Sunday, January 20, 2008
Spotlight: NURIN (Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network) to protect our children
By : TAN CHOE CHOE and AUDREY VIJAINDREN
The NURIN Alert system for missing children has yet to be implemented but authorities say the efforts undertaken to find Sharlinie over the last few weeks demonstrate how the early alert system would work, write TAN CHOE CHOE and AUDREY VIJAINDREN.
OVER 120 days have passed since the brutal murder of little Nurin Jazlin Jazimin but the early alert system for missing children mooted in the aftermath of the tragedy is yet to be implemented.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry thinks implementation of the alert system is just a matter of formality; that the system is in place and working.
“Actually, I can see the alert system in place, judging by the nationwide efforts to find Sharlinie.
“The response is faster because everyone has learnt the (cost of) delay (in Nur in’s case). Even though there’s no official endorsement of the NURIN Alert yet, I could see the difference — the police acted faster and the NGOs, the public and the media also quickly offered to help,” says its minister, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Ministry parliamentary secretary Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun says the efforts put into the search of 5-year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar in the last few weeks had demonstrated how the early alert system would be like.
Sharlinie went missing on Jan 9 while walking in front of her elder sister, who was on bicycle. The duo were on their way home after spending time at a playground near their home in Petaling Jaya.
They had just turned into a deserted lane near their house when Sharlinie disappeared and the elder sister, Sharliena, only realised her sister was missing when she looked up from her bicycle.
“Once the alert’s fully implemented, it (the emergency response) will be even better and more comprehensive,” says Chew.
The early alert system is named after Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, who was found dead on Oct 25 last year after she was abducted in August. Her body was found stuffed into a sports bag a month later.
NURIN stands for “Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network ” and it was first proposed by her uncle, Jasni Abdul Jalil, who drafted a proposal with some friends and submitted it to Shahrizat’s ministry late last year. (See Footnote). It was modelled after the United States’ AMBER alert — an emergency response system that galvanises the authority and the community via a comprehensive network to locate missing children.
After receiving the proposal, there have been many rounds of meetings with non-governmental organisations, government agencies and media representatives to get their take.
“It’s part of our administrative procedure before we present something formally to the cabinet. We’ve decided to park the alert system under the Child Protection Policy as one of its components — it’ll be the last module because we’re first looking at more preventive measures,” says Shahrizat.
Once finalised, the alert system would involve several key ministries like Internal Security, Information, Education as well as her own ministry, just to name a few, says Shahrizat.
“Now we’re circulating the policy with the NURIN Alert addition to all the ministries for final inputs.”
The policy will be focusing on making public places safe for children — be it open spaces, at schools or even in the home of the child.
It will also look at the training of officers to be entrusted in implementing the policy.
Sharizat was hoping to have the policy finalised by December but had to postpone it as more and more people wanted to give their views.
But human rights body Suhakam thinks the alert should have been implemented immediately after the Nurin tragedy.
“It’s too slow. I think we tend to react to difficult situations by getting all excited and coming up with beautiful suggestions but after that, there’s no follow-up and things die down,” says Commissioner Dr Chiam Heng Keng.
“It’s like after they found the body, all the excitement died down and they’re not doing anything any more, as if there’s no need to react any more - end of story.”
Chiam believes that if the NURIN Alert had been in place at the time of Sharlinie’s disappearance, the probability of recovering the child would have been much higher.
“Although it’s no guarantee that Sharlinie would be found immediately, the chances would have been much higher.
“We can’t wait for another child to be abducted before they (the authorities) take concrete action.”
Dr Farah Nini Dusuki of the Malaysian Association for the Protection of Children said three or four months were hardly enough time for the government to put such a sophisticated system like the NURIN Alert in place.
“But then again, we are not expecting a perfect system here,” she says.
“I am sure people would be happy just to hear that serious efforts are underway to protect our children.
“When it comes to the issue of child safety, I don’t think any of us can afford to wait any longer.”
- New Sunday Times
Credits to the Nurin Alert initiatives should be as follows :-
Farina (of USA) - for first to suggest Malaysia to adopt USA's Amber Alert in Nuraina's Blog
Nuraina Samad - for blogging about Amber Alert and together with Tell Magazine arranged a Roundatable Meeting with Datuk Shahrizat to talk about the proposed Nurin Alert.
Tembam - for aggressively promoting Amber Alert to all other bloggers including me
Rockybru - for giving a new name for the proposed Malaysian Amber Alert as Nurin Alert
Kamal Efendi - for giving meaning to the acronym N.U.R.I.N in Nurin Alert and for agreing to head CFNA
Jasni - for grouping the bloggers for Amber/Nurin Alert and to publicly publicise Nurin Alert in the mainstream press
Members of CFNA - for putting up a formal proposal to the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development