We have been forced to see gang­ster­ism as the prob­lem it is, and we can­not look away

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer is staff cor­re­spon­dent for NST Shah Alam bureau

is formed by the in­flu­ences that sur­round them; their no­tions of good and evil are the re­sult of the moral at­mos­phere they breathe.”

It ap­pears that so­ci­ety is be­com­ing more in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic. We choose the easy way of com­part­men­tal­is­ing our chil­dren and fam­i­lies ac­cord­ing to what we see as sep­a­rat­ing good from evil. In­stead of com­ing to­gether and cre­at­ing a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment to raise the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion, many only care about pro­tect­ing their own.

The cul­ture of

(mind one’s own busi­ness), as Fed­eral Po­lice Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion De­part­ment di­rec­tor Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh pointed out re­cently, is to blame.

“Fam­i­lies only take care of their own. is be­com­ing a can­cer in so­ci­ety. It is time for us to move away from this.

“We must be busy­bod­ies, have so­cial aware­ness and take note of what is hap­pen­ing around us and help the au­thor­i­ties,” he said.

It’s easy to shun prob­lems, but so­cial ill­ness has the very same ef­fect of un­vac­ci­nated chil­dren; over time, if there is no in­ter­ven­tion, the prob­lem gets worse.

Our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has some­how pushed a wider gap be­tween what ed­u­ca­tors deem as “clever” stu­dents and aca­dem­i­cally weak stu­dents. Many schools sep­a­rate stu­dents ac­cord­ing to their aca­demic grades. This cre­ates seg­re­ga­tion, with the “bright fu­ture” group feel­ing im­por­tant, while the other be­lieve they are un­wanted and doomed to fail.

The modus operandi of se­cret so­ci­eties is very sim­i­lar to that of ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tions. They of­fer those who feel os­tracised a chance to be needed and use­ful. Paired with the youth’s re­bel­lious­ness, it wouldn’t take much for them to turn against so­ci­ety, which had shut the door in their face.

Po­lice had, since the April 20 in­ci­dent, ar­rested 41 peo­ple linked to Gang 24, in­clud­ing 36 teens.

While puni­tive ac­tion would be ef­fec­tive to serve as a les­son to other youth against join­ing gangs, it should not be the only op­tion. Send­ing the young men to prison may do more harm than good.

Teens be­ing re­cruited by se­cret so­ci­eties is not new. The videos are a bless­ing in dis­guise. We are forced to see the prob­lem for what it is, and we can­not, and should not, look away. It is time for us to act and find a so­lu­tion to­gether.

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