Henry Yew questions the safety of our own homes today.
Now if you have not read the article “My Chair Is Scared: Are We Living In Fear?” by Glassylicious then I will recommend that you do so here [http://www.recom.org/forum/showthread.php?p=302408&postcount=1]. The article will perhaps give you a clue on what you ought to do when you are out in the streets, that danger can be averted by staying alert and be street smart, and that unfortunate things happen usually when you are at the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe that perhaps the most important message in the article is that while there are many dangers lurking out there, that is no reason to lead a sedentary lifestyle, devoid of any social activities.
So, in a sense, being outside is relatively safe. My eight months of active lifestyle in Kuala Lumpur during my industrial training at the twin towers did not produce any unfortunate episode of me being mugged, kidnapped or assaulted. I should really thank my lucky stars for that, but I believe that ensuring my safety at all times did really help reduce these undesired risks. Indeed, safety is very much in your own hands, and not just as a result of circumstances conspiring against you. This, I opine, is in agreement with what Glassylicious wrote in her article.
Then again, the most important question is: are we really safe at home? While we may agree that the media could have overplayed the notion that the streets in our country are criminals’ playgrounds, the experience that you get through first-hand observation may be a different story altogether.
Just take a look around you, especially at places where new residential areas are built. You see gated communities mushrooming every now and then; at every residential area, there is a guardhouse which restricts movement in and out of the community. While the presence of a guardhouse was common for apartments and condominiums, it is now getting more popular for areas with bungalows and semi-detached houses, too. These gated communities are not only found in Kuala Lumpur, but are also becoming common in Ipoh, too.
And in every gated community, there are guards to patrol the neighbourhood and the people living in such a community will have to pay a monthly maintenance fee.
But here is the one-million-dollar question: why do we still need guards to patrol the neighbourhood if our homes are fenced up and armed with an alarm system and perhaps a dog?
Here is the answer: your home is no longer a safe sanctuary, and the security measures that you place for your home can now be easily breached, or are no match for people who are determined to forcefully take what is rightfully yours.
The community that I currently live in has a mixture of old and new semi-detached houses. The houses opposite mine were built about three years ago, and the people living in there are indeed people of certain wealth, or at least of middle-high income. Directly next to my community are low-cost single-storey terrace houses which have been here for more than thirty years also.
Most of the semi-detached houses here, mine included, are armed with an alarm system that will warn off neighbours should someone dare to break into their homes. Not many had dogs initially. And what happened?
One of those new houses was already broken into seven times. Just about three months ago, the car belonging to a police inspector, who is also my neighbour, had its rear window smashed; nothing was stolen nevertheless. Another of my neighbour’s car also had its rear window smashed a few days later and his collection of CDs was gone. Yet another neighbour was out in the daytime and when she returned, she found her house was broken into and her laptop was stolen.
So, more dogs appeared in every house, and some even installed CCTV cameras to record movement outside the house at all times. Yet, these measures seem to be ineffective against thieves who are nimble and smart enough to gain entry into people’s homes through vacant houses.
Thus, we had to hire patrol guards to provide us with some form of protection. Within three months, the guards produced items like parang knives and even master keys that can unlock many different kinds of doors (I kid you not)! They even related stories of a car stopping in front of a house that they were watching, and when they rode on their motorcycles and got closer to them, the car sped off. And the CCTV cameras recorded images of burglars moving in and out of the houses while the occupants are asleep, sometimes in broad daylight, too!
The patrol guards have been doing a good job and there has not been a successful break-in since. However, having patrol guards was never a need in the first place. Most ironically, the person who suggested to hiring patrol guards was my neighbour the police inspector himself. I am sure he took no pride in making such a suggestion, and it would have put him in such an awkward position.
I had had an experience of telephoning the police station to inform them that my neighbour’s car had its rear window smashed, and that the car belongs to the police inspector, who was away on an official assignment. It took them twenty minutes to arrive at the scene when they could, I am sure, arrive within five to ten minutes due to no traffic in the middle of the night. My other unrelated experience was when a motorcycle crashed into my car when I was at the Ipoh railway station to purchase train tickets to Kuala Lumpur and I telephoned the police station for help. They did not come even after thirty minutes of waiting, and the police station was about 150 metres away.
It has come to the point that the people no longer have trust in the police force for help. After all, by the time the policemen came, the burglar could have broken into another home far, far away. And without so much as combing for fingerprints, all the police could do was just to make a report of the scene and there would be no following up of the case. The burglary just becomes a statistic! I ought to know, for my former house was burgled many years ago and the police did come, but they were of no use.
We can do our part to make our homes safe by installing all the necessary measures, yet the problem persists. Having patrol guards at night would only be a temporary measure before the whole system is breached again. The only way to curb this problem is to send all this menace straight to jail, or to introduce the Islamic system of punishment. Honestly speaking, inhumane as it may seem to be, if the person is convicted and found truly guilty of theft or robbery, then according to Islamic law (correct me if I am mistaken) he will be executed by having his hand amputated. Then let us see how many will still dare to commit heinous acts of burglary, theft, murder, etc.
If we want to send this menace straight to jail, then the police force must step in to investigate and capture the menace. There is no point in having the police to patrol every now and then either, because once they are out of sight, the menace will begin their work. We really need the police to step in and intervene to protect our safety, and not have roadblocks every now and then at the busiest stretch of roads, trying to make a living out of you-know-what.
So, at the end of the day, the question still remains: are you and your belongings really safe at home?
Henry Yew is an engineering student who lives about 40 minutes from the university, and is always required to return home by 12.00 midnight at the latest if he is out with friends, no thanks to all the burglaries that has happened around his house.