There are three very unfortunate incidents which took place in Malaysia in the past 10 days. No, I am not talking about cows or politicians.
All of them involved very young children. And all of them involved death. Even a gruesome one!
Nurul Nadirah Abdullah was 5 years old. She was asked to go to a store located a block away from her flats. She was never seen again. Until her burnt body was found some days later, that is.
Around the same time Nurul’s body was discovered, an 18 year old mother was having a picnic at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. She was oblivious to the whereabouts of her 2 year old toddler son. The next morning, his body was found in the lake. Breathless, having obviously drowned a day earlier.
While the 2 year old was grappling for air in the lake, a 22 year old mother in Kota Baru was washing clothes. Her 15 month old son, Nik Mohd Iqbal Azim Nik Roslan slipped out of her house unnoticed. Later, his body too, was found floating in Sungai Kuala Besar. Do I need to say whether he was breathing?
It is a worrying trend. And if I may be permitted to say so, these incidents are reflective of our society’s lackadaisical attitudes towards what we perceive as “small matters” (pun not intended).
Each festive season, hundreds of us, Malaysians, die on the roads. We take traffic safety for granted. We do not give a second thought on whether or not to beat the traffic light, jump queue, drive in the emergency lanes, speed, hog the right lane, ride motorcycles without wearing a helmet or tailgate others. It is almost a culture of lawlessness in itself. Those who follow traffic laws are considered either as a moron or a selfish no-gooder. We are almost expected to break traffic laws in this country.
That lackadaisical attitudes cost numerous lives. And not to mention untold grief and difficulties to many. Ultimately, it cost millions to the government every year.
Now, we are showing symptoms of complete and utter disregard for the safety of our kids.
I have always advocated a scientific analysis of traffic offenders and accidents in this country. That way, we could possibly see a trend. What car do these people normally drive? What income group do they belong to? What kind of homes do they live in? What work do they do? What kind of work/family environment do they have?
These data may be compiled and studied. Then we would know the exact target group of whatever safety campaign we wish to launch.
The same thing could be done in respect of the three cases.
The three incidents above involved very young kids. The parents obviously belong to the lower income group. They are all Malays. And the one most glaring fact from all three cases is the fact that all the mothers involved are very young.
For instance, the mother of the 2 year old found at Tasik Titiwangsa is only 18 years of age! Which means she had had a baby at the age of 16. One wonders at what age she got married. And where was the father when the incident happened?
There must be a serious re-look at the age of marital consent in this country. Granted, in Islam, a girl as young as 11 could arguably be given to marriage. In a country where young marriages make front-page news, one wonders whether our society is getting a little bit wonkers in matters concerning marital responsibilities; parental responsibilities and the suitability of young-aged marriages.
A girl of 15 years of age is still grappling with hormonal changes in her body. She gets married. She gets pregnant. She has her marriage and husband to take care of. She stops schooling. What income can she be earning? Her 20 year old husband is finding it hard to keep a job. Then she gets a baby at 16. What kind of life is she having? What kind of life can she give her baby? A picnic at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. And a body found floating.
I may be stereotyping. But three cases in a week are far from mere coincidences.
Oh, there was another piece of news last week. Over the radio I heard the Animals Act 1953 was going to be amended. Currently, the penalty for cruelty to animals, under section 44 of the Act, is a fine of RM200 or six month imprisonment or both.
Consider this. Under the Act, any person who, among others, wantonly or unreasonably do or omit to do any act, which in turn causes any unnecessary pain or suffering, or, being the owner, permits any unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal is regarded as having committed cruelty to animals.
That Act is now proposed to be amended in order to carry a stiffer penalty.
Now, tell me, if a person had left a cat in a car under the hot sun to die while he/she goes shopping at Tesco, wouldn’t she be found guilty under section 44 of the Animals Act?
Susbtitute a 15 month old baby for the cat. He/she wouldn’t be guilty, right?
Why? Because the 15 month old baby is not an animal.