What can be done to curb Missing Children issue?

When will the last case of missing and brutally murdered children be? What are the measures taken by the government, the society and parents to curb them? The recent murder of a girl whose half-naked body was found in a pond on Tuesday, was not the first case of its kind but will it be the last?

By RTC Wenn, Selangor

How many of us are aware of the missing children’s statistics in Malaysia? Let me share with you the statistics for the past 6 years. The source is 23rd September 2007, New Sunday Times and http://www.cybertraveltips.com/asia/malaysia/Statistic-Of-Missing-Child-In-Malaysia.html viewed on 24th December 2009. Back in 2004, there were 2,405 children missing and 1,803 the next year. Then we have 1,485 children went missing in 2006 and 759 in 2007 (from January to July). From January 2008 to 8th November 2009, there were 4,968 cases and 1,859 are still missing.

The rate has indeed dropped, probably because the police force are putting in a lot of effort in curbing the issue or parents have started to “tighten the security level” to ensure the safety of their children or both. As I was searching for the latest missing children statistics nationwide, I found a legislation related to missing children in the INTERPOL website. It was mentioned the categories of missing children and national legislation which said “There is no specific law in Malaysia that governs the reporting and handling of cases of missing children. However, the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) make enquiries on missing person under section 3 and 20 of the Police Act.” I was shocked to read this. Does that mean that there is no specific task force assigned to solve the thousands of missing children cases?

In The Sun 24th August 2009 issue, child trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation has become a multimillion-ringgit trade in Malaysia fuelled not only by international but domestic demand as well according to End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (Ecpat International) East Asia and the Pacific. From the marketing perspective, we can understand that when there is demand, there is supply and that is reflecting in missing children nationwide cases. Are we living in a civilised country or we are living in a concrete jungle? How are we going to achieve vision 2020? What about being a developed nation in the next few years? What are the actions taken by the parents, society and government? Or are we going to just blame the government again?

“Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye blamed the availability of pornographic materials for the increase in gruesome child murders.” quoted from The Star newspaper 25th December 2009. It is true as it is like giving an idea to the potential insanity outbreak. But this is just one of the causes and the authorities have been putting their efforts in clearing their nests for some years already.

All parties involved have to work together in curbing the gruesome situation in the country. First, parents need to make up their minds before giving birth as to whether they are ready to take the commitment of being a responsible parent. It is not just as easy as the 9 seconds of pleasure. I have seen many irresponsible parents out there giving many opportunities to the prey. A very common example would be leaving their children out of sight in the supermarket or letting little children go to the night market alone or with their young siblings. Parents take things for granted in many situations and later blame others for their carelessness when things go wrong. Where is their conscience? Or as the saying goes “it will not happen to me” apply all the time?

Second, is the selfish society that care less for others’ welfare. When we live among people who ‘see but don’t see’ we are always at a disadvantage. Are we a caring society or merely a busybody for the wrong things? If we see irresponsible acts of parents on the street or in the supermarket, do we tolerate that because it is none of our business or should we start handling it differently from now onwards?

Third, the police force needs to reconsider the need for forming a special task force for missing children and not to give hundred percent attention to arresting of prostitutes unless they are those involved in these cases. There is indeed a need to get qualified ethical professionals to be part of the task force in order to curb this serious issue. This is the part where both government and the opposition should get together and do something that makes Malaysia a better place to stay. For how long have we competed for personal benefits? What about the rakyat? Is that all we deserve? Living in fear and risking the lives of the innocents?

Finally is the role of the Media on the need to powerfully educate the society on respect for others. Let us put aside the big thing on human rights first. How many of us know and realize that every human being is somebody’s child or somebody’s sister or somebody’s future parent? No point waiting for the education ministry to confirm the teaching of security/safety measures in schools. The media can start to educate the society on the right mentality and attitude towards these unless it is not allowed to in the printing acts.

If and if all these parties come together and work hand in hand, don’t you think there will be bigger hope and chances of solving more missing children’s cases than how it is done now? Or does anyone else have a better idea on how to curb this serious situation? One good way to share our ideas on issues like this is to write to the media and hope it will get published as usually when there is an invitation to go to a certain venue to share it, the timing of the event is always unfavourable to most of us as it is usually during most people’s working hours. Thank you.