The Information Minister mentioned that culprits could have emulated the violence committed in murder cases or snatch thefts which they see or read about in the newspapers or on television. I seriously wonder whether his remarks were based on a study of the profile of those found guilty of the offences. Is it so simple a situation that merely by reading murder or rape cases, people will get up and try the same? It is a most unfortunate remark from the Information Minister as he seems to be trying to hide away the reality.
As a Malaysian living in Kuala Lumpur, I personally I find that I am not as comfortable walking in certain parts of the city nowadays compared to say, 10 years back. Could it be that being 10 years younger then, I was more carefree and did not care about my personal safety whilst walking on the streets? Maybe yes, maybe not.
I have personally witnessed a snatch theft committed right in front of my own eyes about 5 years back. This is done in a residential area. A woman was carrying her 1 year old in her left arm and her hand bag was slinged in the right arm. A motorcyclist came and snatched away the bag. She fell...her child fell too. Luckily enough, her child was unhurt. She sustained some wounds. I helped to send her to the bank to cancel her accounts. She is, but one of the many victims of snatch theives. Some even lost their life.
We should seriously ask ourself a question : Are these crimes isolated incidents happening at random or are they a manifestation of something more serious with the pressures of living in a developing country?
I think it is the latter. Crime rate has definitely increased. According to Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow on 17th July, 2006 as reported in the Daily Express, the crime rate in the country especially for violent crimes has increased between 11 and 13 percent in the 1st five months of the year. The Deputy Minister mentioned that it is difficult to figure out the reason but suggested that in respect of snatch thefts, it could be due to drug addicts and immigrants. Yes, there may be some statistics to show that immigrants have committed crime in this country but we should also look at ourselves first less we be accused of discrimination.
As simplistic my view may be, I think the root cause may be largely contributed to the degeneration of the family unit. I am no criminologist and do not study the mind of criminals. Neither did I analyse statistics to back up my view. But really, if one were to look around, one will find that many families are breaking up due to various factors. Infidelity is one of them. Solicitors handling divorce cases will surely inform that the number of divorce cases being filed are increasing year by year.
When a family breaks up or is not functioning properly (where members do not experience adequate love and care for one another), it is much easier to seek solace in the arms and shoulders of peers. Unfortunately, this is also where "mixing with the wrong company" may happen. The pressures of keeping up with the Joneses may also contribute to unrealistic materialism where people start purchasing items on credit facilities but find themselves struggling to keep up with the payments. You should just go to any one of the Magistrates Courts in Kuala Lumpur and see the number of judgments taken against credit card defaulters. Some blame the banks for being "heartless" but fail to see that they were not forced to use the card in the first place.
The costs of living has risen no thanks to the rise in fuel prices, electricity tariffs and ordinary goods. Even the humble "economy rice" or "nasi campur" can cost a duke nowadays. Whilst all these prices increase, not many employees obtain a reasonable "raise" in their salary to cushion the effects of inflation. Some are given an annual increment of RM50.00 to RM100.00 a month. That is little consolation to the additional amount which the employees need to spend by reason of the rise in prices of essentials over the last year. Some companies give the excuse of the company not making enough for the year but it is an open secret that the bosses enjoy the profits themselves.
It is no wonder that many people are desperate. Some resort to borrowing from loan sharks but that will probably be suicidal considering the interest rates charged. Some parents disown their children when they could not cope with paying off the loan shark debts of their children.
At the root of it all, I believe everyone must strive to protect their family unit from degenerating. Children should be given a good religious grounding from their parents. They should be taught the fear of God and to live a simple and humble life. Not as hermits, of course. But to live within their means. Parents should display love and affection at home as much as possible and spend as much time as possible with the children. Not necessarily by buying expensive toys or educational aids but to invest time. Even a simple walk down the park can be educational to the child. Check out the flower, the birds, the various types of trees... it can also be a time to appreciate God's creations. The family that prays together stays together. (Motto of Father Patrick Peyton)
We should start examining ourselves and see where our priorities lie. What is our ambition and what will be the end of it all? Parents, do you know where your children are and who they are mixing with? Children, will you be open with your parents about your needs and expectations? What will we do to protect our families and strive to see that none of our family members fail against the pressures of life?
I am still learning myself. But I will leave you with Matthew 6: 25- 34 (NIV)
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."