TAKE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Lackadaisical attitude of Malaysians a bane of authorities
FEB 6: A couple and their two sons, aged between 17 and 58, killed in a house fire in USJ 2, Subang Jaya;
Feb 14: Two girls aged 7 and 10, and their family’s 29-year-old maid killed in another house blaze in Kepong; and,
Feb 18: Eight children between 8 and 16 years old killed when a car ploughed into them while cycling along the Middle Ring Road in Johor Baru, Johor.
In just a span of 12 days, 15 lives were lost in three separate tragedies, leaving their families to mourn their loss. These are memories too painful to forget. The abrupt passing of loved ones just does that. I, too, had lost a dear uncle in a hit-and-run accident, and several friends in road tragedies.
As a Muslim, I believe that our lives, and when and how we go are in God’s hands. But, with all due respect to those who perished and their families, those who share the sentiment that these incidents are rather fated, as well as authorities investigating the cases, the human factor behind these incidents should be a lesson for us all.
The lackadaisical attitude of Malaysians towards safety is something that has been a bane of authorities, who have campaigned relentlessly to create awareness so that the public will take precautions for the sake of their safety and security. While I was covering the Feb 14 tragedy, the Federal Fire and Rescue Department assistant director-general (Investigation Division) Edwin Galan Teruki had, without directly disclosing their early findings into the fires, advised the public on electrical appliance safety and the crucial need for home owners to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
“A cheap one would suffice,” he said, referring to the smoke alarm, which was an aspect, he said, many Malaysians overlooked when it came to home safety. But, having all this said by a fire investigator, how many of us would actually take heed and buy them?
A 3kg powder-type fire extinguisher, the last time I checked, costs around RM150, while a basic smoke detector costs only RM20. I consider this cheap, compared to how much our lives and valuables are worth in the event of a fire.
Most Malaysians have this attitude where they believe that such a tragedy would never happen to them, until it does. Be they fire, road crashes, snatch thefts and so on, many take safety and security measures for granted.
During my years in this newspaper’s crime desk, I had come across many cases where victims of crime and mishaps had incidents befall them due to their own ignorance.
Examples of this attitude are easy to spot. We see them every day — from not wearing seat belts and crash helmets, texting while driving, driving in a dangerous manner, leaving electrical appliances switched on at all times, carrying valuables while walking close to the road and leaving
areas dirty and just right for Aedes mosquitoes to happily breed around our houses. The same goes in the “mosquito bicycle” tragedy.
While police have cleared the female car driver of allegations that she was on the phone or driving under the influence when her car ploughed into the victims, eight lives had been lost nonetheless. There should not be any excuse for this. If the road there was dark, one should not speed in such conditions. Parents and the community must also play their roles to ensure that our children are safe. There must be coordinated efforts to steer our younger generation towards a healthy lifestyle and activities, and, while we’re at it, undertake these activities safely.
We must return to the old practice of being concerned about each other.
The busybody or jaga tepi kain
orang stigma, is something that we can do with when it comes to safety and security. The Malaysian community must look out for each other. If not us, who?
Having said this, while we believe that what is fated by God is bound to happen no matter what, we must not forget that God also wants us to take care of ourselves.