TIME FOR A CRIME AND VIOLENCE FREE ENVIRONMENT AT OUR LEARNING INSTITUTIONS!
Just when you thought, that the horrific and heinous crime, where 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi, a student who was beaten, abused and died from his injuries, post legs amputation and coma would have sent enough ‘shocks and shivers’ down the spines of all non-brain dead Malaysians, enough to initiate steps to address this form of violence against our young!
But sadly no!
We now have two casualties – National Defence University student, Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain and 18 year old T Nhaveen from Penang.
In Malaysian National Defence University student Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, he was rushed to Hospital Serdang with 80% of his body covered in bruises and burn marks.
He eventually succumbed to his injuries and there was yet another death in our institutions of education!
And public response was so super predictable!
There was a super speedy press statement from Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) which expressed concern over the death of navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman.
And as always, whether it is death on the roads, at constructions sites, road bullying or in this case, at educational institutions they urged the ministry to set up a committee to enable them, to investigate the incident and find ways on how they can prevent incidences of bullying and ragging in institutions of higher learning.
They went further to state that the committee should consist of experts from relevant fields such as the university or college management officers, counselors, psychologists, academicians and the police!
Are you serious MCPF?
I am rather surprised that for an organization, known for the super speed of their press statements, they were unaware that all what they cited or called for was dealt with in 2004!
If I am not mistaken, to refresh everyone one’s memory, obviously unsettled, with the never ending and spirally up of negative issues embarrassing the nation, did not, the then, Education Minister, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, set up a task force at the ministry level to monitor and overcome discipline problems in schools and the installation of a hotline at his office to receive reports or complaints about gangsterism in schools?
Now, whatever happened to that said committee or the alleged work, they may have done or omitted to?
As Malaysia’s ASEAN and APEC lead consumerist, I was among the first, then who lauded that action, which I thought then ‘was proactive and aggressive!’
But, sadly nothing came out of that announcement!
Then, there was again, so much media hype, and blitz, over a report entitled ‘School Violence and Juvenile Delinquency in Malaysia: A Comparative Analysis between Western Perspectives and Islamic Perspectives’ where the research had attempted to discover possible preventative methods in reducing school violence and juvenile delinquency, among children in Malaysia from the Islamic perspective.
This research, I am informed, focused more on the behavioral, biological, social, family, and cognitive as the preventative methods of school violence and juvenile delinquency without paying much attention to the human spirituality and the role of religion and faith as the predictor of adolescents’ behavior.
Based on the analysis, it is suggested that religion and faith, plays important role in prevention of aggressive behavior amongst adolescents.
So much for that study and inexplicably, this followed the then ghastly case of violence and crime, in schools, causing the death of top student Mohd Farid Ibrahim, 16, Fourth Former at the Sekolah Menengah Agama Dato’ Kelana Petra Maamor, Seremban after being assaulted by a group of seniors from the school.
Since then, there have been several horrendous cases of violence and of bullying at Malaysian schools and institutions of education!
Let us fast forward to 2017 – with the death of two more students, from School or educational sites based violence related injuries, one in the north and the other is the center which raises anger, breeds grounds for dissent and reservations about the adequacy of such claims by any quarters to address the rather disturbing rise of school gangsterism, violence and crime!
Despite the rather diligent and hard work of our boys and girls, in high command at Bukit Aman, and PDRM, with a sharp rise in Malaysia’s public safety index, the drop in crime, but has not addressed the fears of Malaysians, over the most fundamental human rights – the right to life and security – and as they rightly or wrongly, still ceased to feel safe for themselves and their loved ones, when out in the streets, public places or even, in the privacy of their homes.
In all humility, I cry out in desperation to the powers-that-be, it is time for the days of setting up committees and task forces or of insensitive press statements to be done away with, and for, more effective transparent process going forward to address the rot!
We cannot deny, the ‘elephant in the room’ that we have as a community and others, as politicians, heads and leaders of government agencies, and support services failed to create a crime-free environment in our communities, in schools and educational institutions, due to the strong presence of foreigners, criminal elements, gangsters and as a result, the frequent cases of gangsterism, violence and crime, something virtually unheard-of in the early decades, of the nation’s independence.
There is no need for another multi million ringgit research study, to be conducted by our so called educational intelligentsia or others, as there are enough material to show without an iota of doubt that there is a serious rise in gangsterism and secret society related crime and violence in schools, and in extension society, and social space, which marks a serious breakdown of school discipline and the students’ social and moral values.
I am certain many of you will remember, that Utusan Malaysia in a report in 2004, stated that according to its record, which I find rather conservative, that there had been more than 35 cases of school crimes and violence, involving student injuries and deaths in the past five years since 1999.
In all fairness, the Education Ministry and school authorities cannot be allowed to pass the buck, for the rising school gangsterism, violence and crime to the police!
It is the failure of the parents, the school principals and teachers, who have a duty of care in maintaining a high standard of student discipline and a crime-free educational environment.
I am certain the professional, no nonsense tolerating Inspector General of Police, would be willing, despite a serious lack of enough resources to assist institutions with issues of student gangsterism, violence and crime, if he is brought into the loop, with updates from our educational institutions!
The IGP is always willing to help in community issues and this, I personally know as CASSA Chief!
And I have no reservations, as well, in calling for the criminalizing of parents, as well, for their failure and a duty of care in such cases.
They cannot and should not ‘outsource” their responsibility towards their children to others!
As I write this piece, I am informed the sad demise of young 18-year-old T Nhaveen from Penang.
All this young lad was doing was, purchasing a burger at a burger stall, with his friend when a group of school students allegedly attacked him with helmets and beat him up.
Though deeply saddened and grieving for his family, I am grateful and encouraged by the statement of Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak, who promised that victim, T Nhaveen, who passed away due those horrific and horrendous beatings, will receive justice.
And I believe this is that moment to seize, for a concerted effort to address incidents of violence and school gangsterism and crime, seeking the co-operation of stakeholders like parents, teachers’ unions, educationists, consumer advocates, the nation’s security agencies, members of the civil society and all political parties, to restore the crime-free environment for all schools and educational institutions as it was pre-independence?