19 January 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.
Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday January 17, 2007

Equip our cops to do the job

Musing by Marin Mahathir

IN the space of just one week, two friends of mine, Adeeba and Annie, had their homes broken into. In both cases, men wielding parang entered their homes in the early hours of the morning.

In the first case, they tied up Adeeba, her husband, two children and a maid and spent 45 leisurely minutes ransacking the house. In the second case, they were surprised by Annie’s screams and ran off but not before managing to grab some valuables.

Both these cases, happening so soon one after the other to people we know well, have shaken my husband and me to the core.

One of our friends had no security system, while the other had a guard and closed-circuit TV. Yet, they both got hit. It seems that there isn’t a lot you can do, if people are determined to enter your home.

This merely adds to a growing sense that we are all less safe both in the streets and in our own homes. My fellow columnist Dina Zaman has also just written about the same subject. But why is this happening?

In order to work her feelings through after the trauma of the robbery, Adeeba decided to pen some observations. She described the ordeal that she and her family went through as the robbers tied them up, as they turned over everything in the house, as her children bravely sat quietly even as they trembled in fear.

And she also described how even though squads of police came after she had called them, she did get a sense that they “have been there and done that” many times before. That they too are overwhelmed by the sheer number of these robberies and break-ins.

As she sat in the police station talking to the Chief Inspector, she was astonished at the working conditions of the police, forced to spend time in offices so bleak that no human could be expected to function properly.

And then, they are expected to investigate robberies at homes, while not necessarily lavish, that are still so much larger and more comfortable than they can ever hope to afford.

Another friend talked about how someone she knew had to attend an identification parade at a police station after the police had caught two out of five people accused of beating him up.

Unlike American TV cop dramas where the accused are identified through a one-way mirror, in Malaysia the accuser actually has to place his hand on the accused’s shoulder to identify him. Even rape victims apparently have to do this!

We can imagine how many people decline to do so, as the person in this case did, which means perpetrators have to be let go.

Our police do not have the money to install one-way mirrors because they cost RM10,000 each, and in the entire country, there are only 10 police stations with this facility.

When we talk about fighting crime, so much responsibility is still placed on victims and potential victims. Don’t go out at night, don’t carry handbags, don’t dress a certain way, use grilles and locks.

We may do all this and still things happen, after which the law enforcement system is supposed to kick in to find perpetrators and obtain justice and redress for the victims.

But these days, we feel unsafe not only because we feel we cannot protect ourselves but also because we know these cases do not get solved. Not because the police do not try, but because they cannot go all the way for lack of facilities, equipment and yes, motivation in the form of salaries that reflect society’s appreciation of their work.

Additionally, we should look hard at our society and think about why robberies and snatch thefts happen. There must be a correlation between the economic environment and crime levels.

As Adeeba succinctly observed, while she is angry with the robbers, “I am less angry with them than I am with the whole system that has allowed this lawlessness and disorder to take place time after time after time. A system that has led to the pursuit of economic wealth at all costs. A system that glorifies greed and material wealth. A system that has watched moral and societal decay and increased economic inequalities go by with no discernible actions to put it right. A system that puts more emphasis and priorities on billboards touting this and that rather than spending those ringgit on paying our policeman better and making their work environment more pleasant.”

My husband and I are pondering what security systems to put in place. But as if to prove the futility of it all, Annie’s security company has recommended only one thing: a blue police box outside her gate. Should I laugh or cry?

04 January 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.
Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday January 3, 2007

What’s a girl to do when the Net goes down and the rain keeps pouring?


WHAT a singularly annoying way to end the Old Year, by being cut off from everyone. To be precise, cut off from the cyberworld, which these days, IS everyone.

For one so dependent on the Internet to communicate with, such as me, this disruption of the Internet has proven to be a major irritation, though perhaps not quite a catastrophe.

It just goes to show even more how vast the digital divide is. While I complain endlessly about not being able to access the Net, Doddy, who drives me around in Jakarta, doesn’t care at all.

He cares more about whether the rains are going to make going home even more arduous than it already is. Which also affects me. This means therefore that abundant rain is the bigger problem since it affects more people than disruption of the Internet.

Admittedly, I did cheer briefly when the Net went down. It meant that I might have had an excuse not to email in my column. Then I remembered that my computer still works, I can still write it, print it out and (ohmigosh, how quaint) fax it over!

The bit of me still resisting envisioned my editors being unable to read the fax clearly and then mistyping my column, leading me into all sorts of trouble. Not that I haven’t gotten into trouble before even with clearly transmitted soft copy.

I could however always wiggle out of trouble by saying that they misread my article and I never said whatever scandalous thing I did. There might yet be a silver lining to this!

Then it transpired that if I reverted to my old non-web-based, spam-choked email programme, I could still send my column in. Drat, and double drat! Can’t a girl take a holiday from criticizing people?

It must be a conspiracy. I am spending the holidays abroad and the only way to get material to get annoyed about is to read the papers online, which I can’t do for the moment. Blissfully unaware of any politician-inspired inaneness or scandal, it makes for a successful vacation but uninspired column-writing. All my usual targets must be gleeful.

There is still the mobile phone however, through which, as we saw last year, communications can be rightly or wrongly exceedingly fast. This was the way that appeals for help in the floods got broadcast fastest.

What was wondrous is that because people keep their mobiles on wherever they are. We managed to reach the consciences of people who were far from home and who then mobilised help by calling back. Hail the mighty handphone!

Which leads me to some musings about communication. It would be nice to end 2006, not the best of years for most of us, on a humble note and to begin 2007 the same way. Thus, when faced with offers of help in an emergency situation, refusing them because of pride may be misplaced at best, arrogant at worst.

What do we communicate by such ungraciousness? That when people reach their hands out in friendship, we are ungrateful?

We have been lucky in being able to extend our help to less fortunate neighbours and friends for a long time. In such a fortunate position, it behoves us to be humble because we never know when tables will be turned.

Help offered sincerely should always be accepted sincerely as well. In any case, it is only those in comfortable positions who can afford to refuse help. To those on the ground feeling wet and miserable, anything that would alleviate the discomfort is welcome, no matter where it comes from.

Imagine if, in the wake of the tsunami, the Acehnese were particular about where help came from, that it had to come only from Muslim countries or whatever other conditions.

So many more people might have died if they had put such conditions on offers of help. As it is, while so much still needs to be done in Aceh two years after the tsunami, they are also now suffering from floods. Misery on top of misery. I doubt if they are going to examine too closely where the next bag of food and dry clothes come from.

Disasters, natural or otherwise, are levelling factors. They reveal what any community or country is prepared for and capable of.

In 1992, when the Highland Towers collapsed, we received help from the Japanese and the French. Without us having to ask, they mobilised their disaster recovery experts almost as soon as they heard about the tragedy. If nothing else, it helped to know that somebody else cared.

Let us therefore wish each other very humbly a very happy new year, one that is peaceful, calm and harmonious, spared the grandiosity and grandstanding of 2006.