There Have Been 50 Gruesome Murders Including 18 Cases Of Throats Slit In Penang This Year

What's going on in Penang?

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Earlier this year, the reported crime rate in Penang was 15.4% lower compared to 2013. Back then, on the 207th Police Day celebrations, Penang Police Chief Senior Commissioner Wira Abdul Rahim had promised to continue to give his best so that everyone in Penang can live in a peaceful and safe environment.

In this 15 February 2014 image, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail (front) and Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim checking out visuals from the closed circuit televisions (CCTV) installed around Penang island under the newly-launched phase two of MPPP's CCTV system at Komtar.

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But has the Senior Commissioner lived up to the promise he made? Going by the string of gruesome murders so far, (Penang has seen about 50 murder cases, 31 of these involved foreign victims, with 18 of whose throats were slit), it hardly seems so.

Senior Commissioner Abdul Rahim (third left) at the scene of a crime in Simpang Ampat on 27 October 2014

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While the situation is bordering on crisis level, there have been no increased efforts by the police and the government to tackle this crisis. Recently, after this year's most gruesome murder, the Senior Commissioner, while claiming to media that the situation is under control, dismissed fears that a serial killer was on the prowl.

About 65% of the murder cases in Penang this year involved foreigners, with Myanmar nationals topping the list

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With regular cases of dismembered body parts and decapitated heads being found by locals, the police must provide a greater assurance of security to the people in Penang than just mere statements in the media. As suggested by MKini, police patrolling, especially the motorcycle patrol squad, must be increased.

So what's going on? Is a serial killer really on the prowl in Penang?

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It wasn't long when Lonely Planet editor bestowed Penang, famed for its old world charm and street food, with THE culinary hot spot of the world tag, it seems though Penang is now slowly but surely turning out to be a killing field.

The killing spree started this year and the victims have at least two things in common:

1. They are found dead in the most gruesome manner with their throats slit open and in isolated locations.
2. Most of the murders occurred on the mainland or Seberang Perai - in scattered sites or dark alleys.

While Penang Police Chief Senior Deputy Commissioner Wira Abdul Rahim has refuted the claims of a serial killer on the prowl here, stating that it's a far-fetched theory, the discovery of two headless female bodies in the space of three days has raised fears of a serial killer on the loose among the locals here.

Given the nature of the murders and how the bodies of the victims have been discovered - in some cases, the victims had their throats slit and their bodies dumped in dark alleys or by the roadside or some canal, etc., the gruesome murders have dominated coffee shop talk, with several theories, including the possibility of a serial killer on the prowl.

While police here continue to offer a cold shoulder to anxious queries from the media in the state, the lack of information flow concerning the series of murders, two theories have surfaced in the media who are following the cases closely, notes The Ant Daily. One is that there is indeed a serial killer on the prowl, the other is that the murders have occurred due to a homeland communal clash between two ethnic groups in Myanmar.

So far, even though there have been gruesome murders of 18 Myanmar nationals in Penang, Senior Deputy Comm. Abdul Rahim has denied the claims that the murders are related to the ethnic strife in Myanmar, saying "there is no evidence to indicate this"

Penang police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim

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But if Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist Dr. P. Sundramoorthy, Associate Professor, is to be believed then nothing can be ruled out, not even the possibility of a serial killer. "Whether it's ritualistic, serial, non-serial or crime of passion, we cannot rule out anything," the professor said earlier in November.

Dr Sundramoorthy: Crime is colourblind

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In response to the murders, which has shaken Penangites; the Penang police has set up special task force to investigate. But is that really enough? In light of this crisis, as Bukit Mertajam MP notes, it's high time the government recognises the need to beef up our police force in the Criminal Investigation Department.

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim

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There are many lingering questions, including if there is a rise in gang activities involving foreign nationals. If yes, what is the police doing about it? It is only a matter of time when these gangs, who now seem to be targeting foreigners, will target locals, if not already.

Also the spate of murders involving beheading and slitting of throats is reminiscent of IS-style modus operandi, sparking questions whether religious enmity in their home country especially Myanmar is now brought to Malaysia.

This not only endangers the people here, but will also aggravate the already tense religious situation in Malaysia.

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