Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Missing children alert system ready

By : Evangeline Majawat

KUALA LUMPUR: The early alert system for missing children is already in place but it is not called Nurin Alert, after Nurin Jazlin Jazimin who was found brutally murdered last year.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said a mechanism similar to Nurin Alert was already in place.

"I've said it clearly that the name 'Nurin Alert' is not in our programme or part of our plans on child protection. But the whole mechanism and processes from A to Z have been discussed and is already in place," she said.

The so-called "Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network" (Nurin Alert) was first mooted last year, four months after the broken body of 8-year-old Nurin was found.

She had been sexually assaulted, murdered and her body stuffed into a gym bag.

The mechanism was modelled after the United States' Amber alert -- an emergency response system that galvanises the authorities and the community to locate missing children.

Dr Ng said the yet to be named emergency response mechanism was a major component of the proposed Child Protection Policy.

"We didn't use the name Nurin Alert. America used Amber Alert. We have not decided."

Dr Ng stressed that numerous meetings between her ministry, the police and non-governmental organisations had been held to realise the mechanism.

However, she pointed out that it was up to the police to act first in a missing child case.

"In our intense desire to save children, we must know what is the best mechanism to do so. The first thing to do when a child goes missing is to make a police report.

"We can't instruct the police on what to do. It is a police matter and they know how to handle it."

Dr Ng said it was inappropriate to "splash the news of a missing child in newspapers for the first few hours".

"This creates panic and they (kidnappers) may kill the child," she said.

On the task force investigating the alleged abuse of Penan women and girls, she said the outcome of the investigation would be made public next month.

"We'll leave no stone unturned. There is nothing to hide in this case.

"I will even go to the extent of saying that if we need to test the DNA of the child to find out who the father is, we will do that."

- New Straits Times

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A mother's agony

The New Straits Times carried the following article on 14th September 2008. Dearth of latest developements on Sharlinie and Asmawi, perhaps this article can remind us that there are more than the two missing children in Malaysia currently. One of them is Syed Ahmad Kushairi Syed Jamal.

FOUR years have passed since her son's disappearance but a 47-year-old hospital attendant doesn't let each black cross on the calendar break her spirits.

Mum Taj Bagam Ab Razak still hopes to see her son.

"Yes, I believe if he's alive, he will come back. I'm waiting for that day."

Casting a glance out of the window of her low-cost flat in Ampang, Mum Taj recounted the Saturday when her youngest son got lost.

"That time, it was like today. Raining. He was riding his bicycle."

The family, among the last to move out of the squatter area in Lembah Jaya Selatan, Ampang, was busy packing up when at 3pm, they realised something amiss.

Eight-year-old Syed Ahmad Kushairi Syed Jamal didn't respond to calls.

His eldest sister went out in search for him, only to find the boy's bicycle lying by a monsoon drain.

Kushairi was cycling a few metres away from home for half an hour. That was the last his family saw of him.

A missing child report was lodged, the Fire and Rescue Services Department came and went, and Mum Taj has seen more than 30 bomoh.

A rescue officer told Mum Taj that from his experience, the boy didn't fall into a drain.

"I believe him, because Kushairi is afraid of water. Even in Sunway Lagoon, he didn't want to mandi. He'd hold on tight to us when he had to cross over some drains.

"I also know my son didn't follow a stranger because he's shy. He doesn't talk, play or go near any stranger."

All the shamans, said Mum Taj, told her that her son is alive.

"They told me, saudara ambik. Saudara sakit hati. Budak itu di tangan orang. Siapa takde anak."

(A relative took him away because of angst. The child is in someone's hands. Someone who is childless.)

Even before this revelation, Mum Taj's instinct told her the same.

A few more reports were lodged, the case was reclassified as abduction. Mum Taj has provided fresh information from time to time.

Calls to the police for updates all these years were always met with the response that they are too busy to meet us.

"People tell me not to worry since the bomoh said my son is being taken care of by someone. It's easy for people to say that. But I cannot live like that."

Mum Taj, who has four other children, is constantly worried about her son's welfare.

She doesn't know how well her son is treated, whether he has enough to eat.

"There's nothing much we can do but wait.

"In my dreams, my son hugs us and cries. He scolds us, asking why we never came and looked for him. It breaks my heart."
- New Straits Times