Wednesday 26 September 2007

Beware The Faceless Monster

Calls For Nurin alert.

Please read
Princess Journals, Ena Samad, and Tembam.

Nurin's tragic case
had affected me in ways I had never imagined anything could. In my years as a journalist I have covered enough gruesome cases and many had left me reeling with anger and pain. I had spent sleepless nights thinking how the little girl must have suffered before death mercifully took her away, I thought about the anguish of her parents, the what if's and the why's that they must be asking themselves now. And how they must be missing their sweet little girl. It was as if, by feeling just a bit of the pain, I could relieve them of their pain, their sadness and sorrows.

Now, the whole nation, in the wake of the tragedy, is asking for answers and solutions. How do we keep our children safe from these faceless monsters.

I wrote this piece some years ago when Sarah Payne went missing one summer. Needless to say, she was found dead after being sexually abused. Sarah's case caused such a public outrage, not unlike what we are witnessing now.


"SUMMER'S finally here and so is the long awaited summer break. Our little Figos, Zidanes and Beckhams are itching to go to the green and try the feat they had watched their idols perform during the Euro 2000 championship.

Yet nine times out of 10, my own Figo in his dark blue and maroon strip is only allowed to play football on telly with his Play Station even though the sun is finally out and his friends are clamouring at the door.
It is safer that way.

And for the umpteenth time, I've said a firm no to my daughter who wanted to do the newspaper rounds to earn some money. It is safer to collect trays and wash dishes at a restaurant, I said.

The reason for my paranoia is simple. In my 20 years here, I have yet to enjoy a summer without reading stories of little children being snatched just outside their front door or the playground near the house.

Though some are found safe and sound, others were not that fortunate. When news broke out that an eight-year-old schoolgirl had gone missing after playing with her brothers in a cornfield near their grandparents' house, most of us feared the worse. We've read this story before.

Like others, a picture of sweetness and innocence smiles at us from recent school photographs distributed to the media.

In contrast, distraught and tear stained parents struggle before TV cameras to appeal to abductors to release their loved ones. A few days or weeks later, a naked body is found in a ditch or in an undergrowth somewhere, turning a missing person's investigation into a murder hunt. Same storyline. Only the names of the victims and the setting are different.

From Day One of Sarah Payne's disappearance, we shared the agonies and anxieties with her parents we only got to know from watching and listening to their desperate tearful pleas on the telly.

Everytime something like this happens, our own little children are deprived of their freedom because of our fear for their safety. For we know that children like little Sarah went missing not because she wanted space or wanted to join a cult somewhere.

She went missing because there are always some sick monsters looking out for innocent little children enjoying little pleasures in life, like playing in the field.

She went missing because she trusted a kind little stranger who had perhaps offered her a lift home or had asked her for directions.

The sad fact that little Sarah's body was found naked confirmed and in a way narrowed down the search for a culprit whose insatiable lust could only be temporarily satisfied by small defenceless children.

And Britain has a register of 12,000 names of such creatures but many others are still free to reoffend or sometimes unwittingly allowed to work with children.

In the wake of this latest development, a British tabloid recently published a rogues gallery of known perverts with the question, "Does a monster live near you?"

I have never read this tabloid, which is popular for its scantily- attired babes, but the day it published the names and pictures, I couldn't resist scanning through the repulsive faces of those responsible for robbing children of their innocence, not to mention ruining their lives forever.

Like other parents, I wanted to know whether my children are safe playing football in the green or skateboarding down to the shop on their own.

The publication has led to several vigilantes taking the law in their own hands. A man was attacked in his home because he was suspected to be in the list.

Although it was a case of mistaken identity, I suspect other paedophiles must be living in fear. And quite rightly so too.

Because of their very existence, we teach our children fear, suspicion and distrust of everybody. A paedophile does not have his sickening hobbies etched on his forehead. So, how are we to know?

In the meantime, my little Figo implores that he is training to play football organised by the Metropolitan Police. I take comfort that in schools, police are making an effort to gain the trust of children.

Their regular visits to schools are most encouraging. So too are the warning letters from teachers of any unsavoury characters seen loitering at school gates.

Little Sarah's tragedy had affected everyone's lives. Strangers drove from far and wide to leave flowers and toys at the area where she was found.

A sea of flowers 8m deep now lined the narrow lane, the likes of which was only seen outside the gates of Princess Diana's Kensington Palace after her death.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Sarah's killer goes on. Unfortunately, even if he is caught and thrown into jail, we can be sure that there are many others like him out there as we can be sure of another summer, another innocent child and another nightmare for parents. "

Sarah in Britain, Nurin in Malaysia and many more have been victims of these faceless monsters. Something must be done to protect our children. And yes, we must not forget little Madeleine MacCanne, who is still missing. Please keep her away from these monsters and return her to her parents.

Thursday 20 September 2007


Please extend your condolence and salam takziah here.

Its' Nurin. The girl in the bag is Nurin!! I looked at the pictures in The Star which puts both pictures of Nurin and the girl in the bag and I thought how that lifeless one had lost her smile. She was tortured, she was sexually abused by the bastard who is still walking the streets. Find the beast! Please find the beast!

It was not surprising that the parents couldn't identify their beautiful baby. She had lost her original looks, her long hair while in captive. Nurin had been alive until two days ago, while people were searching for her.

Please find this beast before he/she does this beastly inhuman act again.

Please, please find the beast.

Sleep peacefully now, my angel. Al fatehah.

This is the story from The Star:

DNA tests: Body found in bag is Nurin (update 1)

PETALING JAYA: The police have said that DNA tests on the body found stuffed in a sports bag on Monday in Petaling Jaya indicate that it is that of missing girl Nurin Jazlin Jazimin.

Petaling Jaya OCPD ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed on Thursday said that DNA tests have so far indicated that the body found in a shophouse at Jalan PJS1, Petaling Jaya Utama is that of Nurin, 8, who had been missing since Aug 20.

Police are waiting for confirmation of the DNA tests.

At Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Nurin's father Jazimin Abdul Jalil, 33, a taxi driver still denied the body was that of his daughter, reports BERNAMA.

"I am Nurin's father ... I know my daughter better than anyone else. In my heart I know that that is not my daughter.

"If the police ask me to take the body (of that child) home, I will accept it, I will conduct the burial ceremony and I will bury her. But I want the police to continue their efforts to search for Nurin because I know that Nurin is still out there somewhere," he said, speaking to reporters outside the HKL mortuary.

Jazimin added that he was sure the body was not Nurin because of the teeth and the scar that Nurin had.

According to Jazimin, Nurin's teeth did not have gaps between them and she also had a scar on her thigh.

Monday 17 September 2007

Of Mak and Ramadhan

For the third time yesterday I was stirring bubur lambuk on the stove. The aromatic smell of lemon grass and santan coming from the pot was unbearable and we still had two hours to go. The handphone rang and the voice at the other end asked,”What are you cooking, mama?”

“Bubur lambuk”, I answered to be greeted by a triumphant “YES!” and what must have been a punch in the air too.

I successfully negotiated Krispy Kreme Doughnuts from Harrods. My sugar level is dangerously low, I pleaded. It was an easy deal – bubur lambuk and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts!

Mak never failed to deliver what we, her children, craved for during Ramadhan. Or come to think of it – even outside the month of Ramadhan. On days she couldn’t cook bubur lambuk, or what we in Kedah called Kanji, she’d ask us to bring some food over to the mosque and queue up for the kanji prepared by the tok bilal there. And as far as I can remember there’d always be kanji on the table.

There’d be crab sambal for me, sambal belacan and ulam for Lilah and kari kepala ikan for the others. We all had our own cravings and favourites. One thing about Mak, when one child was away, that favourite food would also be missing from the table. She couldn’t bear to cook them and eat them without thinking that her child had been deprived of that food.

As I prepared the crab sambal that my youngest requested, my thoughts turned to Mak. This year, she might not even realise that Ramadhan is here again. She might have been told, she might have attempted to fast, but at the end of the day, she would have forgotten that she was fasting. During the last Ramadhan, she even offered to make drinks for everyone. Her memory is fast going but I am pleased to hear that she has not forgotten people around her. She repeatedly asks the same questions but she doesn’t forget names and people. And I hope and pray that when I return, I will be greeted with the same “Anak Mak dah balik!”.

Last night Nona, who is spending time in Malaysia, said her Tok was coughing in the middle of the night. She thought of bringing her a glass of water but didn’t want to wake her up. If she did, she’d be greeted with the umpteenth, “Bila balik?”

Nona would have been spoilt rotten had Mak been well and steady on her feet. Even with the language barrier, she would have communicated her love to her grandchild through her cooking. She came to London when Nona was born and looked after her for six months. For six months, my kitchen was spotless, my front room was in order and my tattered cushions were mended. My garden was in full bloom. One day, I came home to what looked like a new sofa. She had taken some old curtains and hand sewn them and fitted the sofa nicely and made them more presentable.

My friends moaned when she left for Malaysia for during her stay, the house was always full as she loved to cook for my friends. I cried when I came into the kitchen. She had rearranged everything in the cabinet and I couldnt find a thing!

I admit I had conspired with Kak Cik not to let her know that Ramadhan is here. She has her medications and vitamins to take but she’d be worried sick about missing her fast. She’d worry about when she’d be able to pay back the fast. But the positive take about her forgetfulness is that, yes, she forgets what she was worried about.

I missed Mak’s cooking. And somehow this Ramadhan, I missed her waking me up for sahur.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Selamat Berpuasa dan Al Fatehah

Salam to all. Kak Teh ingin mengucapkan selamat berpuasa kepada pembaca-pembaca Choc-a-Blog pada masa kita menyambut bulan yang mulia ini. Kak Teh juga ingin meminta ampun dan maaf sekiranya ada tersilap kata dan terkasar bahasa. Semoga Allah terima segala ibadat kita pada bulan ini. Amin.

Kak Teh baru mendapat berita daripada seorang kawan lama mengenai pemergian ibu kepada seorang blogger yang Kak Teh sungguh sayang.

Ood telah kehilangan ibunya dua hari lalu. Sudah lama ibu Ood menderita sakit kencing manis tetapi sudah sembuh. Dua hari lalu, Ibu Ood meninggalkan kita dalam lenanya. Marilah kita semua sedekah Al Fatehah kepada ibu Ood, semoga Allah cucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya.


PS Terima kasih Ummi kerana memberitahu Kak Teh. Kak Teh tak akan lupa Ummi.

Friday 7 September 2007

Magical merdeka moments...

As I walked up the sweeping staircase of this magnificent mansion, I allowed my mind to run riot for a bit. Now, did our prince who was to become the father of the nation, skip two steps at a time in excitement anticipating the moment when he was to sign the treaty that proclaimed our independence or did he, as befitting his status and title, walk slowly but surely as he had done throughout the months leading up to the negotiation fifty one years ago? I believe, our beloved Tunku, being the fun guy that he was, judging from the interviews that I had with his friends and those who worked with him, would have skipped a bit, if no one was looking. He would be singing the dondang sayang silently, or do a jig of the ronggeng – his heart bursting with joy.

Last night, I retraced his footsteps as I entered Lancaster House as this early nineteenth century building, in the leafy and secluded corner of St. James’ almost next door to the Queen’s, once again hosted a historic occassion for our country. Lancaster House was the venue for the 50th Merdeka reception, hosted by the Malaysian High Commission in London. I was in awe of the surroundings, the ornate decorations, the opulence and the grandeur – everything that had been witness to the birth of so many new nations.

So, if this is the climax of my hectic schedule running up and down the country during the last few months, then I am happy. Deliriously so. I had just got off the Eurostar from Paris in time for the toastmaster to clear his throat and call out the names of dignitaries attending the reception. I was so exhausted after days of trainhopping from Manchester to Liverpool to Edinburgh to Paris, London and back to Paris. I am so tired of going back to an empty hotel room and living out of a suitcase and I am so tired of going to sleep in a big empty bed with only the TV set speaking to me as I doze off to lalaland. But Lancaster House and all its magnificience and all its history made it worth every single sleep that I had missed.

Earlier I had plans to blog about the the meeting with the Scottish ex-servicemen in Edinburgh who talked of Malaya as if it was their own country. I wanted to write about their passion for the country that they had so much respect and love for, about the people they said were so warm and friendly. I also wanted to write about the eve of the 50th anniversary that I spent with Datin Peggy Taylor, Frederick Lees and his wife Marie, and Jean and Barry Floyd in the beautiful picturesque town of Rye. Frederick and Marie and of course Datin Taylor were there on 31st August 1957 and they could talk about the times they were in Malaya till the Sussex cows come home. jean and Barry, having worked in Malaysia for a long time, know more about our country then we do. Peggy was in her batik baju kurung and Barry in his batik shirt.

Peggy was a close friend of Tunku and had been his confidante on a lot of things, not least his choice of the bunga raya as the national flower. Fred lees, was of course the Englishman who shouted Merdeka from the control room at the Merdeka Stadium. One can sit for hours and listen to Fred. He has a way of telling stories and and make you laugh. Fred, as a young MCS officer worked with the Tunku, Tun Razak and many others. But one very important task that he carried out was organising the programme for the big day. From the copy of his programme, you can see every minute detail was planned with military precision. But, according to Fred, no one anticipated the school bus that went into the monsoon drain nearby!

Fred talked about how Tunku would come up with ideas at the last minute. Walking with the Duke of Gloucester to their seats in the stadium, Tunku popped his head into the control room where Fred was sitting with Syed Jaafar Albar and said:

“Albar, when we are walking back after the ceremony, shout Merdeka into the microphone,” which of course Syed Jaafar Albar did until he lost his voice and the responsibility fell on to the young MCS officer that was Fred. In that joyous and happy atmosphere, no one knew any better whose voice it was that shouted Merdeka into the microphone 50 years ago. Fred will go down in history as the Englishman who shouted Merdeka!

Yes, I wanted to write all that – and now I have. We had a kind of mini celebration eating salmon and salad with fried rice that Marie made. I had brought with me nasi lemak and sambal ikan bilis that Peggy instantly demolished with vigour. We even had a mini Malaysian flag flying on the table. It was a beautiful day – one that I’d like to write about properly, some day.

Rushing back from Rye, both my husband and I fell silent – each with our own thoughts. We had our own agenda. And we scribbled them down. That evening, straight from Fred’s house in Rye, we went to the special doa selamat do at the surau in Malaysia Hall. For the first time, we enjoyed some sajaks that our bilal read, the one that my husband scribbled on the train and the syair that I hastily composed on the 1550 from Rye. Our young talented Ustaz did a nasyid – all of us remembering our beloved nation in our own way.

Then we prayed for the continued safety, peace and prosperity of our country.

The food after the event was like no other!

And of course I wanted also to blog about the celebration in Paris, chatting till late at night with Chef Wan, but I think it is best that I leave that with the celebration that I am about to enjoy in Oslo tomorrow.

Yes, it sounds a little hectic but there were moments when I let my hair down when I enjoyed an evening with Mawi, shared a song with Sharizan Borhan and enjoyed the beautiful Melayu asli songs with the Asika band who made Ala Canggung like I have never heard before!

Will be back after Oslo!

Read the story as appeared in Sunday Times here.