for each other
IN THE wake of the abduction and brutal murder of five-year-old Nurul Nadirah the most pressing question is how a helpless little child could have been made the pawn in the games that the adults in her community play.
That feuding parties would blackmail and threaten lives in their hatred for one another seems like the age-old psychological disease of mankind. This is the very stuff of territorial wars among primitive societies and even in the modern-day clashes of civilisations. As much as humans strive for peace, there seems to be an unending occurrence of conflict.
But when individuals, families and neighbours manifest this sick behaviour in the community they should be in harmony with, one wonders what has caused them to go over the brink of sanity to wreak mayhem. One wonders if the families and the neighbourhoods are indeed supportive and harmonious.
For some, eking a decent living places tremendous pressure on their lives. If their families are large, the problems are 10-fold and every day is an endless cycle of making ends meet. This is the stark reality of being at the tail end of the vicious cycle of poverty.
Add to this the phenomenon of low-cost flat-dwelling where nine or 10 members of the extended family are huddled together with little physical space for private relief and peace of mind. Imagine the pressure and hardship borne by the breadwinners.
And compare this with the rural kampung where many of the city migrants come from – where neighbours are either your extended family or your friends who look out for you and mind your business; where the traditional habit of “jaga tepi kain orang” or poking your nose in people’s affairs keeps the community in check and helps to prevent untoward behaviour.
This is where the adage of “charity begins at home” would be observed and the extra bowl of rice would be generously offered to tide you over your rough patch.
Yes – how many of us living in affluent neighbourhoods or in gated residential areas and luxury condominiums of cities can admit to knowing our neighbours or interacting with them?
Apart from the rare occasions when we catch a glimpse of them to nod our heads and wave our hands, do we make a real effort to foster good neighbourliness? Do we really love our neighbours as our holy books implore us to? No – because we are told not to be busybodies and we’re convinced privacy is of the utmost importance.
One can imagine how little Nurul Nadirah’s climbing up and down the four flights of stairs and walking the extra stretch to shop for family groceries would have probably been considered “normal” among her family and the flat dwellers.
After all errands such as this are what children are asked to do in familiar neighbourhoods and friendly communities. What one cannot imagine is that there were unfriendly eyes watching her every move.
So how do we move from this gruesome and heart-wrenching episode that now tugs at the national heart strings? How can society ensure that these despicable crimes are not allowed to penetrate the traditionally safe areas of family and neighbours?
How can the police, Rela and rukun tetangga consolidate their community watch? How can there be better security and surveillance in residential areas be they housing estates, flats or luxury condominiums? How can parents and families be educated to observe the greatest care when managing their young families?
When the abduction of a child or young person has taken place, do we have an effective system to quickly mobilise our resources to prevent the worst from happening. Does Malaysia have an efficient child abduction alert system benchmarked against internationally accredited models like the Amber Alert established in Texas in 1996?
Wikipedia states that:
“AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio (where they are termed “Child Abduction Emergency” or “Amber Alerts”). The alerts are also issued via e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, the LED billboards which are located outside of newer Walgreens locations, along with the LED/LCD signs of billboard companies such as Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor and Lamar, or through wireless device SMS text messages”.
Is our own NUR Alert established by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry in collaboration with the police and other enforcement agencies working efficiently?
Without pointing fingers, can Malaysians just get on with the business of promoting good neighbourliness? Please mind one another’s business.