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Last updated at 14:58 BST, Wednesday, 05 August 2009

Malaysian crimefighters: fit/fat?

Summary

5 August 2009

A bid to reduce street crime in Malaysia has hit a stumbling block after dozens of volunteers were turned down because they were overweight. Fewer than a third of those who wanted to join the police were accepted.

Reporter:
Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian police tackling a street protest

Malaysian police tackling a street protest

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Report

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Razak, announced ambitious targets last week to tackle street crime. He wants a 20% fall by this time next year. Retired policemen are being brought back and members of Malaysia's people's volunteer corps are being enlisted to fight on the frontline. They'll join police on street patrols.

The problem is though, most of the first batch were not considered up to it. Of 500 volunteers who were sent for assessment, just 142 were fit enough. The rest were too fat, unfit or had what the head of the corps told an English language newspaper was 'poor overall presentation and grooming'. Corps members wear military uniforms but most of them are unpaid volunteers with limited powers.

Street crime, particularly mugging, is seen as a serious problem in Malaysia's major cities. The opposition has called for the country's top policeman to be replaced because of the failure to tackle the issue.

Robin Brant, BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

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Vocabulary

ambitious targets

aims or goals which need a great amount of effort to be achieved or be successful

to tackle

to deal with, to fight; to resolve

by this time next year

this common phrase and its variations are used to refer to the same point in time during a future period of time - here, the beginning of August of the year 2010 (other examples: by this time next week/next month/tomorrow etc.)

corps

a military unit trained to perform a particular duty

enlisted

enrolled/registered for service in the armed forces

batch

here, group of people

considered up to it

thought capable of patrolling the streets

volunteers

people who do something willingly/of their own accord, without being forced or paid to do it

overall presentation and grooming

combination of upbringing, education and training that informs your looks and behaviour, often determining how other people perceive you

mugging

attacking and robbing somebody in a public place

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