The Sunday Star front-paged a story today.
"Concern over teenagers hanging out late at night".Many people who read this story think that the state in trying to protect its actions on the recent police shooting of a 14 year-old boy is, in the words of a commenter, "turn (ing) the table on the shooting to make it a youth problem" now.
My friend, U-En wrote a letter to The Star which they may or may not print. I have his permission to post the letter here. Read and circulate as needed please. Go to U-En's blog HERE
(The Star did not print U-En's letter. They printed this one instead.)
Has civic responsibility failed to such an extent that we do not recognise the idea of subjecting adolescents to a national curfew, with their identity cards to be checked by "social workers or police after 11pm" (Concern over teenagers hanging out late at night, May 2) as reactionary, authoritarian and unconstitutional?
I should have thought it obvious enough that a parent's duty to his or her child includes educating that child in personal responsibility and safety. To relegate even a part of that duty to the state, beyond national education, is a ludicrous admission that Malaysians are on a very basic level unfit to be parents.
Maybe this is so; and maybe we are so morally feeble that our first instinct when faced with children staying out late is to assume it is a "growing phenomenon" -- some kind of crime or anti-social "indulgence" -- and without really proving our case we react in typical knee-jerk fashion by appealing to some form of sweeping national policy.
Why? Is it because we lack the backbone to stand up as good examples for our own young? Are we incapable of discipline?
And who are we really to demand that our children do as we say when we fail so spectacularly to maintain even rudimentary standards of civil behaviour (let alone serve as good examples) on the road, in shopping complexes, other public spaces and even at home?
Really the only way to "police" minors effectively is to have them do it themselves. They must be taught to tell right from wrong and to choose the right path of their own volition: anything else would be fatuous tyranny that does nothing but ridicule authority in general, and the only way we can achieve this is to act responsibly ourselves.
A chief responsibility right now is to recognise that children will undoubtedly make mistakes, as will we -- such is the nature of being human -- but whatever the case no child should have to fear being shot in the head, no matter what time it is.
Ultimately if we treat the young without respect, we lose all right to expect any in return.