Monday, May 03, 2010

Teen shooting, will we ever learn?

Discouraging a culture of staying out late

The death of teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah in the police shooting was indeed a tragic incidence that has saddened the nation. Instead of consoling the parents and reassuring the public of a proper investigation into the incident, the IGP had reacted in a rather strange manner that smacks of arrogance and indifference to the emotions of the people.

It is unfortunate that the IGP has chosen a confrontational attitude towards the people especially those who criticize the police force for the mishap. It is not a question as to whether or not the people want the police to be taken off the streets. On the contrary the people want an increased presence a people-friendly police on the streets to ensure their safety at all times, which undeniably is their primary duty.Threatening to pull out when the people criticize whenever something goes wrong is an irresponsible act that goes against the very purpose of having the police force.

As expected the shooting of 15-year-old Aminulrasyid, like all such incidences before, has been made into a political issue that would hamper a truly independent investigations into it. Such politicization has left many earlier police misadventures without definite solutions and as such no lessons have been learnt from them. We hope at least this case would be handled more professionally so as to restore the people’s confidence in the government and police.

In this regard the government should be commended for acting swiftly to set up a panel to probe the circumstances that led to the tragic death of Amirulrasyid .The panel must be transparent and open in getting to the truth. Did the police open fire on the teenager after he was forced to stop? Were their lives threatened in any way that led them to open fire? Were proper procedures followed when they discharged their firearms?

We tend to forget that the issue here is the untimely and tragic death of a young boy which by itself generates a lot of anxiety, emotion and anger among the public. Moreover the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear and clouded in mystery. Such mishaps are inevitable at times but the authorities must ensure that the police did adhere to all set guidelines regarding anti-crime operations. There should be no attempts to cover up if indeed any breach of such laws is obvious.

The police must not be too defensive but help to diffuse the situation by showing its willingness to scrutinize its own weaknesses so as to reduce such mishaps in the future. The police may not be solely to blame as their duties of crime busting are very dangerous and life-threatening. They should not doubt the people’s appreciation for the extremely risky operations they undertake in protecting innocent people from hardcore criminals.

The parents also should play a more effective role in ensuring the safety of their young children. A number of questions remain unanswered. How did a 15-year old boy get hold of a car? Why was he allowed to drive at that age? What was he doing on the streets at 2am when he should be in bed as the next day was a school day? These are some of the issues that need to be addressed before pointing a finger of blame to the police.

This incident brings to surface an important national problem of increasing number of teenagers hanging out late at night. Not only it subjects them to unnecessary risks but it also predisposes them to various vices,crime and immoral activities that have become very rampant these days. In fact it has become a major concern for parents, educators and enforcement agencies.

Why the need for round the clock entertainment outlets, like 24-hour eateries, cybercafes and other late-night activities, which these teenagers frequent? What type of culture are we promoting to our young by encouraging these round the clock entertainment?

Parents and to an extent teachers may be failing in their duty to instill discipline and civic-mindedness in the children. It has become extremely difficult for parents and educators to discipline their teenage children as they are working against a culture that encourages such late night activities in the name of individual freedom and economic and social progress.

As we share the sorrow of the unnecessary death of a young boy, let us all, as responsible parents, educators and the law enforcers resolve to do our part in preventing such tragic deaths in the future.There is a need for a concerted effort by all including family and educational experts to formulate measures to check this culture that is threatening to disrupt the basic fabric of our Malaysian way of life.

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