‘Merdeka’ from fear
AUG 31 — Reading the news — especially the recent court ruling on the two statutory rape cases where the rapists were freed — I couldn’t help but feel worried for my students. In this day and age where it is not as easy to monitor their social connections, you never know whether your children are safe or not, be in or out of your home.
Not only that, the recent child kidnapping cases have also been worrying. Despite telling children how they should be careful and always be vigilant of their surroundings, we cannot assume that this is enough and that they will be okay. Their innocence and naiveté mean anyone with ill-intentions can just take advantage of them and do whatever they like with the children.
Things used to be a lot different. My childhood was pretty carefree. I remember spending a lot of time outside, playing with my friends without any supervision from my parents. My friends and I would go to the padi fields and play for hours, despite being told not to because “nanti kena patuk ular!”
We would ride our bicycles all over town and never had to worry about being kidnapped. I used to cycle to school, leaving home as early as 6.30am to make sure I got there on time and not be fined by the stern prefects in their blue “tudung”.
The only thing I had to worry about was getting home before Maghrib prayers so my father wouldn’t cane me, and, of course, keeping my grades up.
Those were the days.
Now my nephews play in their gated homes, often under the watchful eyes of their parents or at least an adult. Kids can no longer go anywhere without fearing they would be snatched away from the familiarity and comfort of their homes.
Parents worry incessantly about their children’s safety, day and night. Even a trip out with the family can turn into a nightmare when they end up being victims of car-jackings or snatch thefts.
What is happening to our country? Are we becoming so lawless with such incidents happening in broad daylight in the view of many people and yet no one can stop them from happening?
The people who are committing these crimes, I don’t know for sure whether they are locals or foreigners. Whoever it is, I just hope they will be caught and punished for the heinous crimes they’ve committed, and for robbing us of our sense of security.
I am of course not happy with how the authorities are responding to these worrying situations.
Saying that crime statistics are exaggerated by social media is not going to build the public’s confidence in them! The public is already scared, so why add onto that fear? Worse still, it sounded like the authorities are pooh-poohing the public’s fear, as if we are being so silly for being worried about such crimes.
A friend once shared how while she was driving, two men on a motorcycle smashed her car window and grabbed her handbag which was on the front seat. Upon reporting the incident, she had one unsympathetic policeman telling her that she “brought it on herself by not hiding the handbag.” Really?!
Yes, I understand, we should take precautions and not take our safety for granted but I do not want to live feeling like this is Gotham, never knowing when trouble will strike and I could end up hurt or, worse, dead. At least Gotham is lucky — they have a multi-billionaire who would fight to protect the city and its people. But us, who do we have? Most of our politicians (bar a few) are more interested in keeping and accumulating more wealth and only care for themselves. Where does that leave us, the everyday Malaysians?
There are so many incidents which mar my belief in the ability of the government to keep us safe. For example, that poor woman in Kelantan who was just getting out of her car to go to a ‘“tudung” shop but ended up having her arm almost severed in a snatch theft last Wednesday. Surely you’re not going to say she brought it on herself too? How? For wanting to buy a “tudung”?
As a Malaysian, I don’t think I am asking too much when I say I want to be able to safely walk the streets without worrying that my arm will be chopped off should some crazy, desperate guy decide to swing a machete at me so he can get hold of my handbag.
So for Merdeka, all I want is to be “merdeka” from these fears, of feeling like I cannot go anywhere without worrying that I might get harmed or, worse, killed. I want the police to be “merdeka” from having to worry about whose foot they will step on when they take certain actions. I want our government to be “merdeka” of corruption. I want our children to have a better Malaysia and “merdeka” from all the hang-ups that we currently have.
May our country be “merdeka” of such heinous crimes and may we live and prosper in peace for many years to come.
Selamat Hari Merdeka daripada Cikgu Tasneem!
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.