Saturday, October 06, 2007

Let's Save the Children

Yesterday (Friday, Oct 5), Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced that a Child Protection Policy will be tabled in the Cabinet after Hari Raya Aidlifitri.
The policy is aimed at creating a safe environment for children and to increase alertness on the children's well-being.
Shahrizat, according to Bernama, caters for children-related organisations such as non-governmental organisations, government institutions, schools, kindergartens and hospitals.
She said this when chairing a meeting on violence against women and children at her ministry,
Shahrizat also spoke about getting the Education Ministry to draw up educational and awareness programmes for children on ways to avoid dangerous situations.

Read the story here.

This is good and I am all for the policy and everything that has been said at the meeting. But I believe that we should be going forward and directly address the issue of abducted children in the aftermath of the brutal murder of 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin last month.

Yes, we can minimise the incidents of children being abducted if certain measures are being taken.
Getting the education ministry to play its part is good because teaching children early about protecting their own safety goes a long way in preventing them from being abducted.
Speaking of which, let me tell you that only a few days ago, at about 3pm as I was driving past Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 2, I saw two children - boy and a girl - outside the school gate.
The school faces a stretch of road and the Taman Lembah Kiara and at 3pm, it can be pretty quiet and lonely.
I stopped my car, got out and approached the children.
The school seemed quiet but the gate was open and there were a couple of cars parked, indicating the presence (inside) of a couple of teachers.
I asked the children why they were still around after school hours. The older child (the boy, maybe 8 year-old) said that their van would be late.
They live in Sungai Penchala, he said.
Perhaps, I could send them home -- something I have done several times in my life time.
But I decided that that would not be a good idea because, well, the next time , they might just accept a ride from anyone.
Besides, that will unnecessarily cause undue worry to the van driver.
So, I took them into the school compound, at the guard house which was empty. I did not see the security guard around.
I waited with them for a while until I saw some teachers. I did what any adult would do -- remind the children not to wait outside the school when their van is late.
Maybe I was paranoid. Maybe there were teachers keeping a watch on them from upstairs.
Still, the idea of the kids waiting outside the school gate represented an incident that was waiting to happen.
Now, what if the kids, or one of them were/was abducted?
Will we go back to pointing fingers or act swiftly to get the child back safely?

This is what we should be addressing following the tragedy that befell little Nurin -- to act swiftly to get back children safely in the event of an abduction.
Surely we have realised that there has been one case (of missing children) too many.
Surely we should be working to devise an alert/warning system to save abducted children, to prepare us for that tragic eventuality when another Nurin happens.
Because it will happen. That is something we have to face up with.
No matter how perfect we want our world to be, it will not be. You and I know that.

Yes. Keep on reminding parents to be vigilant. Keep on reminding them that they are responsible for the safety of their kids. Keep doing all that because we can never remind ourselves enough.
But, we have to go beyond that.

Prevention is better than cure, they say. But in cases of child abduction, it is way past prevention because a child has been abducted.

Have we not learnt anything from Nurin's abduction and brutal murder? It is about preventing a child who has been abducted from being brutalised and murdered by putting pressure on the perpetrators to release him/her.

We cannot be going backwards. We have to deal with the problem at hand. I hate to throw a cliche here, but we have to think out of the box. The thing is we don't really have to try hard because we have seen how successful other countries have been in saving the lives of abducted children.

On one hand, we acknowledge the serious problem of child trafficking in this region and across the continents, yet we are not helping to arrest it.

What the ministry should be recommending is a devise akin to AMBER ALERT.
I cannot see why no one who is in position to help introduce this is not doing so.

It sure looks like it will be Citizens For Nurin Alert because those who should be listening and acting are not doing so. Or are they going in a roundabout way of dealing with the problem?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few extra suggestions for people in the Ministry who are drawing up prevention plans:
- rope in respective government departments to tackle problem of child trafficking (as you know, we were recently downgraded by US to worst offenders in human trafficking)
- get the right govt departments to help in controlling web pornography and related crimes
- get a directive for every single TV station and radio to help by donating some short time everyday to publicize pics with info of padeophilles/rapists/murderers on the run, and missing children.
- set up a website with pics and info of convicted child rapists, murderers, even those who molested children. At least some info is available to those seeking them.
- sure, teaching our children to avoid dangerous places is good, but Please get the Police to decrease the number of dangerous places
- need to increase police presence everywhere (something my foreign friends always noted when they visit, no policemen to be seen)
- and can we please secure all children's playgrounds - simple things like clearing of overgrown bushes and fencing.
That's all for today. Thank you Yang Berhormat, if you're reading this blog.
A Malaysian mother

ahiruDin aTTan said...

Spot on, Ena!

You wrote:

"This is good and I am all for the policy and everything that has been said at the meeting. But I believe that we should be going forward and directly address the issue of abducted children in the aftermath of the brutal murder of 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin last month."

I read Bernama's piece on Shahrizat. The people she met would say it's a comprehensive approach. But i say it is too sweeping, too generalised, and sorely lacking focus and direction.

Child Protection Policy? We just merged three pieces of legislation to come up with the Child Protection Act 2001. What would a CP Policy do that the Act won't? Why the need to announce that Internal Security Ministry has role, Education Ministry has role, parents have role, etc?

Why aren't we spelling out the one thing or two that ALL of us should focus on?

Yep, like you said,

"It sure looks like it will be Citizens For Nurin Alert because those who should be listening and acting are not doing so."

Shahrizat is indeed going in a roundabout way of dealing with the problem! She needs help.

Hi&Lo said...

The strategy of prevention is too simple for the smartalecs to recognise. If authorities fail us, then we have to take initiative and proactive. Citizens for Nurin Alert is not an option but a necessity.

Someone's Mommy said...

What has happened to the proposed Register of Sex offenders and Paedophiles?

Warm as chicken shit, it turns cold in no time.

And count me in for Citizens for Nurin Alert!

Frank said...

Nuraina

I am quite cynical about Policy for this and policy for that, especially when it is a reactive response to a disaster.

Child Protection Policy, that's nonsensical. Malaysia, if I am not mistaken is signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of teh Child ( http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm) of Nov. 1989. Malaysia ratified the Convention on 17th Feb 1995, that is a decade ago with the following stated reservations:

"The Government of Malaysia accepts the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child but expresses reservations with respect to articles 1, 2, 7, 13, 14, 15, [...], 28, [paragraph 1 (a)] 37, [...] of the Convention and declares that the said provisions shall be applicable only if they are in conformity with the Constitution, national laws and national policies of the Government of Malaysia."

We should have enacted not only policies, but actions and legal instruments, provision of resources and operational strategies to protect the Malaysian child.

Really, what has this Govt done to date, besides putting its signature on the Convention and doing nothing about it, and the consequence is having victims like Nurin for the tidak-apa attitude by the Ministry concerned.

It is also too little too late.. a jerk-reaction.

Forget about Policy. Enact tough legislations to PROTECT THE CHILD.

This is going to be another Kertas Kerja, and Kertas Perbincangan di Dewan kind of nonsense.

No, what the Ministry bureaucrat got to do is put get off their bums and to do some real work on this issue.

Form a Task Force to enact legislation. You don't need to have rocket scientist to know what to do to protect a child... YOu can always learn from other countries if we have not got our act together. Why reinvent the wheel?

Sorry, I don't buy this intention to have another Policy kind of thing.. a bloody waste of time.

Policy does not fix the problem. Need tough legislation, and focussed resources for enforcement.

What we need is a Policy to change the mindset of the Bukit Aman boys to put their priorities right.

old female fart said...

I agree with HI&LO that if we the citizenry are so sceptical of government policy (which I believe must be in place and worked through before schemes are implemente)or of government efficiency in running effective schemes, then like they do in many developing countries, individuals and small groups must take the initiative and start the ball rolling.

Why just sit around and be critical/cynical if you know better and believe your idea will work? From the little I've read about AMBER ALERT, it shouldn't take much (effort) to approach a Radio Station to start a nation-wide campaign/publicity re the issue of child kidnapping/abduction/abuse. I'm sure out of a sense of social responsibility some big corporations can be persuaded to sponsor the programme.

Why wait for Shahrizat and her Ministry when citizen brilliance and effort can move mountains?

I'd like to suggest that Bloggers United led by Rocky and Nuraina harness their influence and resources, including the legal bloggers, to do their bit for Nurin and the other little children who have been subjected to/will be subjected to these horrendous acts by the most vile and evil of the human species.

I think the Government in general and Shahrizat's Ministry in particular would appreciate this effort. Besides making Malaysian Bloggers more respectible and credible, it will show us to be the truly caring society that we say we are!

Even if it does not take off immediately, the seed of an effort would have been sown. And like most seeds it will bear fruit if nurtured well!

SO HOW ABOUT IT ROCKY & NURAINA?

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Hi OFF,

You know, there is already a movement underway to get this thing going...among the citizens -- actually a couple of unrelated groups of people.

They are doing it without anyone telling them to. they are doing it out of deep concern for the safety of abducted children in the future, the next nurin.

there are ordinary people with no influence or clout.

so, why are those in position to make it happen not making it happen?

People like shahrizat can move it, because she is in position to make it easier for it to happen.

like you said... just get the police, the broadcast media, the corporations to help.

you and i know that that is ewasier said than done, not that in cannot be done, but wouldnt people like shahrizat be able to make it easier?

what does it take for them to see that we need an alert system to save the lives of children who are abducted?

indeed, if you read the blogs, you will find that bloggers are already in the forefront to make this happen. we will make it happen. we will not let the memory of nurin die.
nurin did not die in vain.

old female fart said...

Surprise Surprise! The photofit of the two suspects in the Nurin case is being flashed on RTM!

Has the government/police beaten the citizenry in this case? Or is it the effort of a private group?

Nuraina - does it matter whose effort it is if the objective is a shared one? Does it matter who does it first?

What I'm trying to say is that there is too much of the blame and finger pointing game in this country. We are so confrontational especially lately.

Blogger/bloggers first or NGOs or Ministry or corporation or political party?

Who is corrupt? Government officers, the police, the ACA, judges, MPs, Ministers etc etc - but never the ordinary citizens, never the groups and corporations who offer bribes at any of these levels! And they do it without a thought - let's face it!

If we say the government is corrupt it is we the citizens who must equally take the blame for perpetuating the culture of corruption. We cannot just sit back and pronounce judgements on acts which require takers as well as givers. And in most cases it is the giver who initiates or induces!

What we must do is to eliminate this exclusivity factor in our culture and make it more genuinely inclusive/collaborative
Why can't there be more collaborative efforts between the government and the citizenry? If we are confrontational they will be defensive or aggressive. This is the nature of the animal world.

And humans are but an animal species!!!

PS If NURIN ALERT is on its way to becoming a reality ALHAMDULILLAH. For her parents, this may perhaps be the closure they deserve. And for arwah Nurin, she would not have died in vain! AL FATIHAH

Anonymous said...

Nuraina,

Yes, I'm all for the Citizen for Nurin alert. As a mother, I just want my kids to grow up in a safe (if not safer) environment like I did many many years ago. For once, the politicians should just stop making statements and show some action. Crude this may sound but if the Nurin tragedy happened to the kids of the people up there, we might have already a long list of paedophiles and enactment of legislation in place in no time!

-hb-

A Voice said...

Problem with Shahrizat is she has a tak apa attitude.

In our child abuse case which is relevent to the violence agst women and children issue she chaired, she and her Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat has an attitude of discounting unusual possibility.

Look mem, violence agst women and children occurs becasue of unusual possibiity.

old female fart said...

Dear A VOICE

If you know Shahrizat you will eat humble pie and swallow your words!

SALAMS

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Old Female Fart,

Precisely.... we should stop this blame game.
A child was abducted and brutally murdered.
Pointing fingers will not bring her back.
What happened to Nurin is too terrible to forget. We don;t want another Nurin to happen. So what do we do?
prevent THAT from happening.

OFF...the citizens can start the ball rolling. I agree.They can initiate.
But isn't it sad that when those who can help get it going are not even talking about it?