Saturday, January 12, 2008

di mana sharlinie...


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Saturday January 12, 2008

Change can only happen when residents shed ‘village mentality’

Comment by D. RAJ

PETALING Jaya Commercial Centre, the Lake City, the signboard screams. Behind it, a large area is cleared for a modern development. A high-rise apartment block is already up and more are coming.

Across the road, children in rather shabby clothes play, mostly unsupervised. They come out of tiny low-cost houses, some of which though have been extensively renovated.

Motorcyclists zip by, most without helmets, oblivious to the nearby pondok Polis and the policemen in it.

Welcome to Taman Medan.

Nestled between the affluent residential areas of Jalan Gasing and swanky Bandar Sunway, this is the place that shot to fame – or infamy – during the “riots” of 2001.

It was also near here that Canny Ong was raped, murdered and burnt in the construction site of what is now the New Pantai Expressway. It is here that the body of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin was dumped after the child was brutally killed last year.

Now, it is in the limelight again. Sharlinie Mohd Nashar is missing. And a monster could be roaming this area.

Taman Medan actually is a misnomer. It is used to describe a far larger area that includes Kampung Gandhi, Kampung Datuk Harun, Kampung Hijrah, Taman Medan Baru, Medan Maju Jaya and Taman Sri Manja, among others.

Sharlinie lived in Taman Datuk Harun. Like the nearby areas, poverty and lawlessness are commonplace here. Houses are cramped and roads are narrow although there are some that have become “mini-bungalows”.

A stone's throw away in Taman Sri Manja, there is more affluence, bigger houses and bigger roads. But the lawlessness remains. Snatch thefts and motorcycle thefts are rampant. Scrap metal dealers dot the area, snapping up goods, many of them stolen.

Children roam the streets at all hours. Some can be seen visiting Internet cafes even after midnight. Boys, some barely in primary school, ride motorcycles with even younger siblings riding pillion.

Even the police are at a loss. At a meeting with residents, new OCPD ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed was stumped. It was not just children, he said, who had no respect for the law. The adults were just as bad.

When police set up a roadblock near a school here, he said, attendance dropped drastically.

Parents, many refusing to wear helmets or without licences or road tax, just stopped taking their children to school.

To them, the place is just one big kampung.

Therein lies the problem.

It's a bit like Mowgli – you get the boy out of the jungle but not the jungle out of the boy. In much of Taman Medan, a largely Malay and Indian area, the “kampung and estate mentality” still prevails.

Respect for the law, traffic law at least, is at such a low ebb, that even the policemen and postmen take off their helmets when riding their bikes here.

There have been efforts to improve things. The roads have been widened, there are traffic lights – which few obey anyway – and Rukun Tetangga branches have been set up in many parts of Taman Medan.

Their job? To maintain security and harmony.

But there's little they can do about the children on the streets.

Cases like Sharlinie and Nurin cannot be prevented if such attitudes do not change.

In kampungs and estates, people watched out for other folk's children.

Here, a perpetrator can mingle and become part of the “landscape.” No one would notice. One has to be on guard always.

The parents must understand that in the city – PJ or KL – city rules must apply. More so, if you are planning a Lake City within the city.

D. Raj is production editor at The Star. He has been a resident of Taman Medan for more than 12 years and is also chairman of the Rukun Tetangga at Taman Medan Perdana.

1/15/2008 04:16:00 PM  

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