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Crime rate on rise in Singapore: minister

Xinhua. March 9,1999.

MINISTER for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng indicated Tuesday that crime rate in Singapore on sharp rise in 1998 and the outlook for the crime situation this year is "not bright".

In his speech to officiate a police workplan seminar, the minister revealed that the crime rate went up by 5.2 percent last year in Singapore and the crime rate rise has reversed a nine-year consecutive fall in the overall crime rate. Latest data published recently by the police shows that there were 48,260 major criminal cases in 1998 in the city state compared with 45,896 cases in the previous year. It also affirmed that the police arrested 33,537 suspects last year, 3248 more over 1997 .

Wong said that the increase in the crime rate was due in part to a sharp rise in immigration offenses. The crime increase would have been lower at 4.4 percent if immigration offenses are excluded, he noted.

Taking the increase in total population, Wong said, the increase in the crime rate is just slightly over one percent, rising from 1064 per 100, 000 population in 1998 compared with 1054 in 1997. Citing police arrested some 23,000 illegal immigrants or overstayers last year, Wong said the police have stepped up efforts in all checkpoints including the sea around Singapore in a bid to uncover any illegal immigrants.

Underlining that reducing the crime rate in the current economic situation has great significance for the island country, Wong said the police is planning tougher enforcement to address the problem. He also called upon the police to push on with organizational development and to be prepared for possible contingencies in the year ahead to deal with problems such as the Y2K problem which may require police assistance or intervention.

Singapore's crime rate dropped for nine successive years prior to 1998. For 1995 and 1996, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report considered Singapore's crime situation was the best in the world.

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