The High Court sentence of six years’ jail on Sam Ke Ting in the ‘basikal lajak’ case came after she had been acquitted and discharged twice in the magistrate’s court.
Some people are now trying to fan the case into a racial issue, but in fairness we must see the outcome objectively.
There are no winners in this case. While we may not be privy to the exact circumstances, we must not overlook the fact that the accident took eight lives and left eight others injured.
While the aggrieved parents may feel justice has been done for the loss of their children, there will be no real justice if the authorities do not pay attention to the problems of the young.
Young people now have the additional responsibility of voting in a government after turning 18.
But how well has the younger generation fared after being given privileges under the New Economic Policy? Many questions arise.
One would have thought that scholarships and education, and bumiputera equity, would have created a better society, where one would be able to distinguish right from wrong and have high moral values. Instead, our education system has created a restless and rebellious youth. Bored Malay youth are roaming the streets without parental supervision or policing.
Why is this happening? Before the ‘basikal lajak’ case arose, the hot topic used to be ‘Mat Rempit’. If you research the definition of ‘Mat Rempit’ you will probably get this kind of description, “Mat Rempit is a Malaysian term for an individual who participates in activities such as illegal street racing, bike stunt performance, petty crime and public disturbance using a motorcycle”.
Not a very nice description. There is even a movie made called “Remp-It”, a 2006 Malaysian action film that focuses on the lifestyle of Malaysian motorcycle street racers.
The “Rempit” have created their own street culture and cult, hero-worshipping like the ‘bossku’ idea, where crime and breaking the laws are seen as heroic occupations.
Drug abuse is a menace. Crime statistics from 2018-19 indicate that Kedah and Kelantan are the states with the highest number of drug addicts.
A 2016 article in a scholarly journal, entitled ‘Emerging Drug Use Trends in Kelantan, Malaysia’, reported that “the primarily rural and agrarian Kelantan province of Malaysia has high rates of drug use and is characterised by unique sociocultural factors”.
Focus group discussions have reported drug use beginning at an early age out of peer influence, to relieve boredom, to cope with problems, and high saturation of villages with other people who use drugs. A trend of drug use initiation at younger ages and increased drug use among females has been reported.
Kelantan is run by PAS, which has insisted on passing hudud law for the whole of Malaysia. Yet it has been proven that religion has not solved the problems of the youth even in rural communities which do not have the additional challenges of the urban youth living in concrete jungles.
In the heart of an Islamic state, even religion cannot help youth escape boredom and to cope with their own problems. The harsher punishment proposed by PAS in its bill to enhance shariah court powers will not solve anything, if the root cause is not tackled.
We now have another tragedy of the Malay youth in the form of ‘basikal lajak’, modified bicycles without brakes ridden by young people on major roads past midnight, risking the lives of other road users.
The sight of one or two truants can be blamed on bad parenting. But many questions arise when hordes of youths are barreling down public roads late at night, without parents knowing their whereabouts and in plain sight of the authorities.
The first to be blamed should be the parents for not knowing or even ignoring what their children are up to. Why do you allow your children to go out late at night breaking the law and putting their life and other motorists in danger?
Putting the blame wholly on Sam Ke Ting is probably the easiest route, but to absolve oneself of parental responsibility is also a crime.
In 2015 a global MTV study of 26 countries showed that Malaysia is home to the world’s most bored young people despite having access to the internet and social media. Young Malaysians reported the highest levels of ennui, a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
A 2021 survey by Merdeka Center showed financial constraints and unemployment as the main problem facing the youth of today. But such a study does not cover the early school-going teens who have their own set of problems. Parental guidance is critical at this tender age.
Where do the ‘basikal lajak’ gang get their money to modify their bicycles? Why does life seem cheap for these youths? Surely parents living under the same roof would notice the goings-on – or are they too becoming indifferent?
The 2022 budget allocation of RM956 million for the Islamic development department is an eye-popper. Jakim’s role is also to educate the youth on being good citizens but it has failed in those aspects.
Looking at “Rempits”, drug abuse in the Muslim heartland of Kelantan, and ‘basikal lajak,’ we can see that Jakim and poor parental guidance have failed the youth.
We can’t heap the blame on just one person in the decadent society we created.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.