Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Finding Sharlinie is most important
By LOONG MENG YEE
LAST year in September, we were determined never to forget Nurin Jazlin Jazimin as we laid the battered and murdered child to rest.
We vowed to keep our children safe and never let another suffer the horrible nightmare Nurin went through.
But just 100 days on, the nation is again reliving the anguish of looking for another abducted child.
This time, we are praying, searching and hoping for the safe return of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar, the five-year-old who went missing about 200m near her house in Taman Medan last week.
Be strong: Jazimin (right) giving words of encouragement to Mohd Nashar at the latter’s house in Taman Medan last Friday.
One father knows exactly how wrenching the waiting can be. Nurin’s dad, Jazimin Abdul Jalil, has been a pillar of support to Mohd Nashar Mat Hussain. Jazimin has made at least two trips to Mohd Nashar’s double-storey link house in Taman Medan.
The first time last Friday, he spent nearly four hours huddled with Mohd Nashar, his wife and other relatives in the kitchen, offering words of encouragement and, more importantly, advising the worried parents on ways to deal with the painful situation.
“Pray, pray hard. God will give you the strength. Keep strong, don’t crumble under pressure and ignore the vicious talk, focus on the effort to find Sharlinie,” Jazimin told the family.
The part about ignoring vicious words was particularly personal to Jazimin. He and the wife faced all sorts of unkind allegations while the search for Nurin went on.
Some people actually called and verbally abused them, accusing them of being unfit parents for letting their child roam unattended. (The fact is: it was the first time Nurin had ever gone to the night market alone. The mother had assumed Nurin was with her sister.)
Some media also dug into Jazimin’s past, alleging he owed money to Ah Longs, when in reality, he had taken a legitimate loan of a few thousand ringgit to settle an accident involving his taxi. He had fully repaid the loan.
When the press met up with Jazimin at Mohd Nashar’s home, he was obviously wary of reporters. He only relented and agreed to speak to the press after much persuasion.
Even then, he kept reminding the media to be fair to Mohd Nashar, not print unfounded allegations or keep harping on the fact that Sharlinie’s parents had been negligent.
Jazimin had a point when he said “the focus should be on finding Sharlinie”.
“All other angles can be pursued once she is found. If the media keep insisting the parents were negligent, or print untrue allegations, kind-hearted Samaritans might be put off from helping,” he said.
Mohd Nashar seemed to have taken Jazimin’s advice. Right after Jazimin left his house at about 4pm on Friday, Mohd Nashar held an impromptu press conference denying his other daughter’s account of a woman with shoulder-length hair luring Sharlinie away.
“This is a matter of life and death for Sharlinie. I urge the media not to publish misleading facts about my daughter,” said Mohd Nashar, adding his police report never mentioned such a woman.
Just as Jazimin was trying to rise above the pain of losing his daughter, his elder brother, Jasni, was working tirelessly since the death of his niece to set up a national response system to help look for abducted children.
Working with a group of concerned citizens, Jasni was determined to implement Nurin Alert, an emergency response system galvanising the authorities, the press, the community and the nation to help save abducted children.
The system is modelled after the successful Amber Alert in America. Amber is the acronym for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency System”. Amber Alert was set up in memory of Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.
“Some mechanism in the Nurin Alert has been acted upon. For instance, it was three days before the media publicised Nurin’s disappearance.
“In Sharlinie’s case, she was mentioned on television the day she went missing. Newspapers swung into action the very next day.
“Speed is crucial because it has been proven that the first 48 hours are the most critical in getting back abducted children,” he said.
Jasni said Nurin Alert advocators were also pleased with the swift and serious action taken by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil in appealing to the mass media to flash and print news about Sharlinie as often as possible.
Jasni and other Nurin Alert members have blogged about Sharlinie and put up the photofit of the alleged abductor in their respective blogs as well.
He has also set up a blog in memory of Nurin. It is nurinjazlin. blogspot.com. It has since become an information centre in cyberspace dedicated to find abducted children.
“It is comforting to know we have learnt from our past mistakes. Action by the authorities, the community, the media and other concerned parties has been swift,” said Jasni.
Hopefully, it is swift enough to help save Sharlinie.
- The Star