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Has violence become a mark of our culture?

 | June 14, 2017

Recent cases involving young people should prompt us to look for the root cause of anger and cruelty.

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Why are so many of our young people becoming victims of so much senseless violence and even ending up dead?

This month alone, we’ve heard two cases of suspected torture, one leading to death and another to brain death. And these happened even as the tragedy of 11-year-old Thaqif was still fresh in our memory.

Early this month, Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, a student at the Malaysian National Defence University, died of wounds sustained from what is suspected to have been torture at the hands of colleagues who accused him of stealing a laptop computer. It is alleged that he was bound and physically tormented for two days with a belt, a rubber hose, a steam iron and a clothes hanger.

His friends took him to a clinic in Bangi on May 27, six days after the alleged torture, and again on May 31. When he took a turn for the worse, on 1 June, he was rushed to Serdang Hospital but died from his injuries, two hours after being admitted. Eighty percent of his body was covered in bruises and scald marks.

In Penang, an 18-year-old student, T Nhaveen, now lies brain dead in hospital. News reports say his assailants were disaffected youths who were his former classmates. They had allegedly sodomised and beaten him. Apparently, before beating him senseless, they had teased him for being effeminate.

Less than two months ago, Mohd Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi died from wounds sustained in an alleged beating by an assistant warden at the hostel where he was a boarder. The alleged culprit has been released on police bail.

Thaqif’s body was exhumed last month for further tests in the investigation into his death. The results have not been released despite an earlier promise. Why do his parents have to go through another heartache?

Is there a culture of violence in our society? Are parents, schools and community leaders failing our youths?

What is the root cause of such anger and violent behaviour?

In the case of Zulfarhan, didn’t the clinic suspect anything from the way his body was wounded? Those were no ordinary injuries. Why didn’t the doctor alert the police?

Was there no warden at the university lodgings to check on the welfare of the students? Zulfarhan must have been in considerable pain. Had no one, not even his lecturers, noticed?

In Thaqif’s case, why did no other member of the school staff censure the culprit responsible for his wounds?

Were there no witnesses when Nhaveen was beaten, practically in public? Did the residents of the area close their doors and windows and ignore his screams for help?

And now we have the Ministry of Health organising a competition in the production of videos about LGBTs. Isn’t that dangerous? Wouldn’t it give some people the feeling of being morally entitled to attack those displaying LGBT tendencies?

The Minister of Defence, Hishammuddin Hussein, deserves our nod of approval for saying he will get to the bottom of Zulfarhan’s death.

The recent deaths all involved students. The ministry needs to wake up and tighten processes and procedures in schools and universities.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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