17 July 2012

Thank God I was safe

Crime can happen anytime, anywhere, without warning.

Our government tells us Malaysia is a safe country. They say that our rating in the Global Peace Index is respectable.

But what matters is how the citizen feels.

Do you feel safe? Do you feel that police presence is adequate to reduce street crime such as snatch thefts, muggings and kidnappings? Why are there more resident-initiated security systems being established in housing areas at the expense of, not the government, but out of the pocket of the man on the street?

Hishammuddin would do well to answer these wonderings.

I read that Capital FM will be airing a segment which touches on crime and how to stay safe, especially for women. It has been horrifying to read of the recent spate of deaths caused by senseless and barbaric snatch thieves, and the near kidnapping of a lady in a shopping mall car park in PJ, and of course the kidnap and release of the little Dutch boy in Mont Kiara.

Tears flow: Investigating officer Asst Supt Wong Yeut Oon sharing Lay Yong’s painful loss at the Penang Hospital mortuary. From the Star, 12 July 2012

My own experience happened in PJ.

Coming home around 8.30pm to my parent's house in PJ, I had just driven into the driveway. I was about to close the auto-gate but at the last minute decided not to, as I wasn't sure if there was enough space between my car and the gate, as my brother's car had taken up a fair a bit of the driveway in front of me.

It was dark as the street lights often fail to work, and our porch lights do not illuminate the entire stretch of the driveway. I left my engine running and alighted from my car, still in my work clothes and high heels. I walked to the rear of my car and assessed that there was enough space for the gate to close.

Just then, a motorcycle with 2 men on it, silently cruised by. They wore helmets.My hair stood on end, some instinct telling me danger was close. The motorcycle passed by my parents' gate but made a U-turn back. 

I pressed the gate control that was in my hand at the same moment that the pillion rider jumped off the bike and dashed towards the gate. I was gripped by the knowledge that I was going to be mugged, or worse.

In these moments of danger, things just don't move in normal time. The gate closed ever so slowly with a yawning gap big enough for a buffalo to stride through. The helmeted man was already standing in that very gap and moving towards me. What should I do?

I would not make it in time to the front door in my heels. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to open it fast enough. I didn't want him inside the house with my parents, young children and brother there! The car! I spun on my heels and raced back to my car, hopped into my driver's seat, slammed the door shut and locked it, praying that I made it in time. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the helmeted head bobbing just outside the window of the rear passenger door on the left. I heard him trying the door handle.

I pressed my hand to my car's horn and continued honking it. I saw my brother and dad come to the front door. They were shouting. The helmeted guy hesitated amidst the commotion. With me safe inside my locked car, he turned round and ran back to his waiting partner outside. They rode off in the darkness.

That was a close call. In a worst case scenario, I could have just froze and stood there. The assailant could have just asked for my handbag, perhaps. Or maybe, he could have put a knife to my throat and walk me to the house, and threaten everyone inside. He could have gotten a lot more that way. He could have kidnapped someone. He could have asked to be driven to the nearest ATM for more.

Lots of scenarios.

Since then, I have developed a keen sense of hearing for the sound of motorbikes. I turn and stare at any motorcyclist near me on the streets. I walk further into the pedestrian footpaths on roads. I try to remember to sling my handbag on the shoulder away from the road and I try to remember to walk facing traffic.I look around before I walk to my parked car. I lock the car doors as soon as I get into my car.

Looking back, I now weigh my options. If I hadn't closed the gate and had just run back into my car, with that guy chasing me, I think I should put my car into reverse and run him over. Honest. He had intention to harm. He was trespassing. I would act in self-defence.

I think Malaysian drivers should be more proactive and helpful especially in light of the smash-and-grab robbers who smash car windows at red lights or junctions to grab stuff out of cars. Block off their escape path, nudge them off their bikes. It's true that public apathy has caused these thugs to become more brazen in doing what they do.

~ ~ this story was shared on Capital FM 88.9 on the Talk of the Town: Safety Special on 18 July 2012 by Joanne Kam and Xandria Ooi ~ ~


  1. These events occur so regularly now tht is worrying. I am not sure if due to social media, news such as these spread faster n wider. I worry for family n friends in KL/PJ. Take care n be alert at all times

  2. Thanks Charmaine for your heart felt words. Will try to be alert and stay safe You too!