Sunday, December 9, 2007
The Nurin Alert
8th December, 2007
Due to human nature, we’ll never agree on a lot of issues. Society is such. Opinions are constantly aplenty and will always differ, from the profound to the superficial.
But one thing that brings about a level of unison across a broad spectrum of any community is the dismay at the sharp increase of child murders. However the pathos for anger at this appalling fact is totally valid. This year alone saw precedents being set for crimes against children so violent they were beyond comprehension.
On September 17th, the naked body of 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin was found stuffed in a sports bag at a shop lot in Petaling Jaya, 28 days after she went missing. She was believed to have been snatched while on her way to the night market near her home. A victim of horrendous sexual and physical abuse, Nurin died of an infection due to a ruptured intestine.
On November 4th, 9-year-old Preeshena Varshiny was beaten, raped, sodomized and thrown from the balcony of a high rise apartment block to her death in Kuala Lumpur. She was believed to have been attacked while she was home alone.
When it was confirmed that the tiny, broken body in the bag was indeed Nurin the country grieved. Less than two months after Nurin’s body was found, Preeshena was killed. There was an extremely high level of outrage and anger as Malaysians worried about the safety of their children. Two deaths in such an uncomfortably short timespan made for a lot of questions.
Given these inhumane abominations that have been happening of late, people have had a lot to say. Bloggers in particular have been extremely vocal in their opinions. They raised the alarm and put up alerts when 12-year-old Chin Kha Mun went missing by posting her photograph and details on their blogs, urging readers to help find her and asking for information if anyone had seen her. In a sad turn of events, Kha Mun’s body was found floating in a river 4 days later. The cause of death was due to drowning.
More than a few bloggers also openly stated that they cried when they found out about Preeshena’s violent and senseless end. Those like Marina Mahathir, Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi, just to name a few, used their high readership to highlight these issues with their readers for the greater good. Needless to say there was a strong outpouring of emotion evident in nearly all the comments left on their blogs by readers. People wanted discourse. It was time to ask what was being done to prevent these things from happening .
When Nurin disappeared on August 20th, Jasni Abdul Jalil, Nurin’s paternal uncle, started a blog called “In Search Of Nurin Jazlin”. Its original aim was to reach out to a larger base of people informing them about the current situation at the time. The blog is now named “In Memory of Nurin Jazlin”.
Jasni, a company secretary with a Kuala Lumpur based legal firm, decided to change the focus of the blog to promote the introduction of NURIN Alert, an effort pioneered by a group of bloggers calling themselves the Citizens for NURIN Alert (CFNA). Jasni himself is the Deputy Chairman of the group. NURIN, or Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network, aims to broadcast information on missing children out in the shortest amount of time possible, to facilitate awareness amongst the general public.
“NURIN Alert is an idea tailored from the successful implementation of AMBER Alert in the USA. Similar programs are also carried out in the UK and Australia. It is a defined mechanism in handling cases of missing children,” states Jasni.
“It is a centre where information on missing children is disseminated to the public via mass media channels like television, radio, internet, billboards and so on. NURIN Alert would be the reference point for any matters relating to the progress of finding missing children. Conceptually, NURIN Alert is to be operated by the authorities, i.e. the police as the main coordinators. No one should be allowed to issue the NURIN Alert unless authorized to do so and this has to be in accordance to a set criteria and operating procedures.
NURIN Alert is designed to assist search and rescue efforts by getting the public involved in helping the authorities. It is also designed to highlight these cases so that the public is aware.
Parents of missing children will no longer have to approach the media themselves as it will be co-ordinated by the NURIN Alert Centre. This would certainly be helpful to all parents, especially those located in rural and remote locations where access to media channels are either limited or non-existent. The blog “In Memory of Nurin Jazlin”, initially known as “In Search of Nurin Jazlin” was set up a couple of days after Nurin Jazlin went missing. The idea of setting up the blog was to disseminate information on the missing child to a greater span of the public through internet surfers.
Along the way, the blog was utilized to compile news reports in order for the public to keep abreast with the incident. The blog was also used to convey messages directly from the victim’s family.
The first such message was on what had actually transpired on the day the DNA results of the child was made public without the parents having prior knowledge of it. This blog entry was then referred to by most media to correct the false perception that had been created by them.
While the blog continues its function to report information and progresses on Nurin’s tragedy, it has also found a new role upon the inception of the NURIN Alert initiative. The blog promotes and seeks public support for the introduction of NURIN Alert. The feedback it receives so far for NURIN Alert is a great success. Hundreds of internet surfers registered themselves as supporters of the initiative and making themselves available for any voluntary services that might be required to see the project through.
The primary media even started quoting entries from the blog when making their own reports on the NURIN Alert initiative. Other bloggers joined the bandwagon by publicly stating their support for the cause and started to link the blog to theirs. NURIN Alert is perhaps the most widely discussed topic in the Malaysian blogsphere after issues relating to political matters.”
When asked about his thoughts on what the authorities are doing to improve this situation, Jasni stated “The government, i.e. the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is very receptive of this initiative. After meeting the Minister concerned, the Social Welfare Department was assigned to incorporate the NURIN Alert mechanism into the currently drafted “Child Protection Policy”.
The Child Protection Policy Committee consisting of various relevant bodies, including the police would be tasked to co-ordinate the incorporation of NURIN Alert. Representatives from the CFNA has been invited to work along with the Child Protection Policy Committee in addressing the technical and co-ordination direction.”
The blog gets some very strong support from all walks of life around the country and beyond, and Jasni confirmed this. “The blog has been receiving various and numerous comments from parents. Concerns ranging from the fateful tragedy, the progress of the police investigations on the murder and the unauthorized distribution of the autopsy pictures as well NURIN Alert itself were duly registered and widely discussed.”
America has Megan’s Law, otherwise known as The Sexual Offenders Act, which makes it mandatory for authorities to inform the public if a registered sex offender lives in the vicinity. They also have AMBER Alert. AMBER or “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response” kicks in when a child goes missing in the United States or Canada and as many details as possible are posted by the media.
Radio, television, the internet and SMS texts are some of the avenues utilized in getting information about the missing child out to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. AMBER Alert is named after Amber Hagerman who was abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996.
As a highly concerned citizen and someone who realizes that the innocence of simple days are long gone, I will readily admit to being shocked and appalled. A growing number of children in Malaysia are being abused violently on a daily basis. I personally believe that the longer indifference and apathy are prevalent, we will see more incidents of this nature. Apathy towards a crime, reasoning that these things happen and that there may be nothing one can do about it, should be treated as a felony in itself.
Remember other innocents who were preyed upon. 20 years ago, 8-year-old Ang May Hong was found dead, violated with a piece of wood embedded with nails that eventually punctured her intestines, stomach and heart. In 1999, 17-year-old Audrey Melissa Bathinathan was raped and murdered in an underpass on her way home from school.
6-year-old Nushuhada Burak was raped and murdered in 2000. Her body was found on top of a water tank in a residential area. 2004 saw the deaths of Harirawati Saridi here in Sabah and Nurul Huda Abdul Ghani in Johor. Both were 10 years old and both had been raped and murdered within 2 weeks of each other. Out of all the children listed in this article, Nurul Huda was the only victim who’s killer was apprehended. Please do not allow these victims to simply become statistics. Let us ensure that their deaths were not in vain. Visit www.nurinjazlin.blogspot.com
- New Sabah Times