Sunday, September 14, 2008
Missing child warning system facing delay
HOW long does it take to set up a missing child warning system in Malaysia?
One year and counting.
This is not at all surprising, considering there is little concerted effort put together for a machinery to push forward such a plan.
Following the public uproar over Nurin Jazlin Jazimin's disappearance last year, the child's uncle, Jasni Abdul Jalil, and a group of concerned citizens proposed a nationwide urgent response information network alert system, codenamed Nurin Alert.
The idea is to have a mechanism to activate information on missing children so that it reaches the public in the shortest time possible.
Today, the responsibility to make the alert a reality is still being shuttled among the group, the police and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
Jasni wanted the police to take ownership of the system, but the police said it was the ministry's initiative.
The ministry, however, has said the alert doesn't fall "under its hands".
A year ago, the reception wasn't so, Jasni recalled. The proposal was successfully put forward to former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Jasni said it was even incorporated into the drafting of the Child Protection Policy in the section on how to react to a missing child report.
Some ideas under the Nurin Alert were adopted during Sharlinie Mohd Nashar's disappearance, he said.
"When Sharlinie went missing, the authorities took the initiative to highlight the case and disseminate information to the public through TV stations and newspapers.
"If you go back to Nurin's time, that didn't happen. No attention was given. The news came out only after the third day. By then anything could have happened.
"But with Sharlinie, the reaction was instantaneous.
"We want a standard operating procedure on how the issue of missing children should be handled.
"We don't want it to be made based on discretion. It should be clearly laid out."
Part of the suggestions put up by the group is that in the event of a missing child report, the police would have to decide quickly whether to put out a nationwide information alert.
The Nurin Alert could be triggered, without the need for parents to approach the media for their case to be highlighted.
The authorities should act because they are in a better position to tell if the case deserves immediate public notification, said Jasni.
The criteria for raising a national alert, the group suggested, should be when the child is below 15 and when police have determined it has nothing to do with parental disputes and believe there's real danger involved.
Also in the proposal was for radio stations and public address systems in malls or mosques in the area where the child went missing to give a description of the child.
"The public can play their part. Maybe someone saw a child being snatched."
= NST Online