Thursday, August 21, 2008

EDITORIAL: Keep the candle lit

A YEAR after the abduction and murder of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, we must take pause to observe this sad anniversary in all sympathy for her bereaved family — as indeed for that of Sharlinie Nashar, lost in similar circumstances eight months ago and not yet found.

The contrasting fates of the children in these two cases raised the most awful conundrum: would it be kinder for such families to know their child is dead, to retrieve her remains for a proper burial in a consecrated grave where they might mourn and pray for her, or to never know what became of her, the better for hope to remain? Such unthinkable dilemmas are universal; the cases of Briton Madeleine McCann last year, American Jon- Benet Ramsey in 1996, and even the Azaria Chamberlain “dingo” case in Australia 28 years ago, all strike to the same depth of anguish.

It would be almost as cruel to suggest the police do not feel just as wretched at such cases as Nur in’s and Sharlinie’s. But when they have to admit total failure in their investigations, it’s entirely understandable for Nurin’s father Jazimin Jalil to chastise them for not having at least done what they could against those who so callously leaked his daughter’s autopsy pictures and distributed them over cellphones. The police can and should make an example of those who would draw salacious pleasure from such horrors, as some cold comfort to offset their failure to track down the monster who did what was done to that child.

Let the harsh lessons be learned. In the society we live in today, those who perpetrate the most heinous of crimes against children seem to have ample scope to simply vanish, either into the interstices of our own communities or over borders.

As in the case of the little boy, Mohd Nazrin Shamsul, who wandered away from a department store in Kuala Lumpur in March 2007 and was taken in by a Myanmar family for a fortnight, it is possible for massively publicised searches to go completely unnoticed by many who reside among us.

There was a happy ending for “Yin”, but not for Nurin or Ninie. Jazimin’s wish to set up an organisation to help victims of such crimes is laudable, not least for underscoring that citizens must take responsibility for their own children’s welfare, and not leave their protection entirely to the authorities. These childrenwere taken within metres of their homes. Vigilance, like charity, must therefore begin there.

- New Straits Times

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