IT WAS a bright, sunny Saturday evening, and two weeks to Christmas. Sue decided to do a spot of shopping at the neighbourhood mall. As it was close to home, she walked — as she always did every time she shopped for groceries.
Her shopping done, Sue walked home, happy that her children were well and safe and, at the same time, wondering what to cook for dinner. Arriving home, she slipped her key into the padlock. This was a new padlock since the old one — a heavy old-fashioned iron piece that the family was particularly fond of — got stolen two months before.
All of a sudden, while struggling to open the gate, Sue felt a hard blow to her head, causing her to collapse in shock. Blood flowed freely from her wound and as she curled over in pain, a man snatched her handbag before jumping off and riding away with his partner on their motorcyle. Sue screamed for help.
The time was about 6.30pm.
With no help forthcoming from her neighbour, Sue was forced to climb over the gate — she needed help and the blood was flowing too quickly for her to waste more time struggling with the padlock.
Upon entering the house, she immediately grabbed a towel and, while applying it to the wound to stop the bleeding, called her friend, Tang. She also dialed 999, the emergency number — a hopeless attempt, for she was put on hold until the line went dead. So much for police efficiency.
Meanwhile, the blood continued flowing, and more neighbours arrived outside the gate; there was blood everywhere: on the porch and driveway, gate, plants and the corridors of the house. None of the neighbours outside ventured in nor offered to help, preferring to gossip with one another and lament the fate of their neighbourhood.
Tang arrived quickly (Sue had given up on calling the police as well as her neighbours), with Jean, Grace, Patricia and Man — all family friends — shortly after. Jean accompanied Sue to the hospital, while Tang saw to the police report and, later, helped Grace, Patricia and Man clean up the house. Sue was still bleeding.
By 2am, following 12 stitches, an X-ray and further examination, Sue was discharged from the Ipoh General Hospital. She had been bleeding for more than an hour. Sue’s son arrived from Kuala Lumpur at about 2.30am; her daughter arrived the following day — both frantic and worried.
Friends who dropped by over subsequent days said this was not the first such incident in the area. Two days later, Sue’s daughter was informed by a friend that another person was attacked and robbed in the same manner. And just a day later, a snatch theft incident happened — again, in Sue’s neighbourhood.
All the attacks had occurred in broad daylight. Ironically, the police patrol the area, each time only after dark. What, really, is the point then? Should they not be patrolling at random hours to prevent criminals from planning their next hit?
Some three months before Sue’s attack, it was reported in a local newspaper that street crime and overall crime index had dropped 37% and 16.24% respectively compared to August 2009. The article in the Star newspapers dated Sept 14,2010 quoted Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) communications director Alex Iskandar Liew attributing the positive results to several factors including police being present everywhere and diligence at various crime hotspots.
In another article in the Malaysian Insider dated May 18, 2010, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the ministry had successfully reduced crime rate due to the ministry’s initiative at identifying crime hotspots and reasons for increase in crime through the five main principles of the Key Performance Index blah blah blah…
Police being present everywhere and diligence at various crime hotspots??
Excuse me if I don’t agree. The police have been everywhere but where they are supposed to be!
In July last year, a friend and former colleague was beaten up and robbed while walking to his car after an assignment. He was hit in the head by a bunch of youths who tailed him; the wound required four stitches.
When the police officer who attended to Sue’s case learnt that the robbers only made off with 40 bucks in her handbag, his comment was, “Rugilah diorang (they didn’t get lucky)…”
I received an e-mail shortly after Merdeka last year detailing how a bunch of Malay youths had brutally attacked a bunch of Chinese Malaysians who happened to be walking the street to celebrate Merdeka. All because they were Chinese (but still Malaysians wat!!)
Perhaps, Art Harun said it best: “Numbers do not and can never reflect intensity…although crimes have been reduced by 80%, the intensity of the crimes is not reflected in the numbers. And the numbers for sure do not tell and are in fact incapable of telling how safe our streets are. Or how safe we feel.”
As tax-paying Malaysians, it is our right to demand for proper protection. Our police should not be:
a) placed in ridiculous looking tents at odd corners of a neighbourhood where they read newspapers and get sleepy while baking in the heat.
b) patrolling at fixed hours of the day (and having teh tarik the rest of the time or cruising the highways without their seatbelts on and chasing down victims for bribes).
c) leaving the emergency lines unattended.
d) taking bribes and preying on poor foreigners.
The Home Minister should realise that the reality, at the end of the day, is that Malaysians have lost faith in the ministry and the police force (many have even lost faith in the ruling government, but that’s a different story). This was mentioned in a study done by Transparency International Malaysia recently where Malaysians view the police as the most corrupted agency in the country (read article here).
I, for certain, have lost faith in them.
Sue is alright now, but she no longer walks to the nearby mall — regardless of the time of the day — without accompaniment. That little bit of caution could go a long way. It also comforts me because, you see, Sue is my mother.
One thing I have discovered from this whole ordeal is the absence of the spirit of neighbourliness that Malaysia once prided itself on: we have become strangers sharing a piece of land yet preferring to keep to our side of the fence. We have forgotten that the dangers that threaten those living on the other side can easily threaten us, too.
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. I have learnt that true friends will always be there. My thanks, in alphabetical order, to the following:
- Cheng: for getting the herbs for mom.
- Chris: for making sure that the office was notified about my absence and always checking on me.
- Foon: for the contractor’s contact number and things I should discuss with him beforehand.
- Grace: for helping to nurse mom’s head and for graciously letting mom stay over for a few nights after we left.
- Jean: for being with mom at the hospital and making sure the doctor stitched her right. Thanks to your family as well.
- Jo: for being there to help me pack and for saying that prayer.
- June: for also passing me the contractor’s contact number. Thanks to your dad as well.
- Patricia & Man: for being there to help clean up, and accompanying mom after her discharge from the hospital.
- Tang: for always being a constant presence at our family home, for being the first one to show up at the scene, for cleaning up, for settling the police report, and for your hospitality. We are glad you visit often.
- Virata: for your undying support and for taking the first flight out of Singapore just to make sure you were there the entire time we were back.
- and to all the rest, thank you for visiting and asking after mom.
On that note, Happy New Year everyone!!!