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Archive for February, 2008

I was surfing YouTube for AlleyCats when I stumbled upon this extremely shocking videoclip that had this message:

See undercover video taken by police, better understand why it happens, and who is doing it. It highlights the heartbreaking reality of child trafficking around the world. Women and children in poverty are at an extremely high risk of exploitation. This is why World Concern, http://www.worldconcern.org , makes child trafficking prevention a major component of its aid programs, especially in Asia.

CREDITS: Originally produced by the Viva Network and the Asha Forum in association with Fat America Films, and was sponsored by World Emergency Relief. Read Asha’s Story from this website here about a little girl who was sold by her father to a brothel where she was abused for seven years until rescued.

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News update:

Still no good news yet and the British media are getting pretty creative with the kinds of stories they are coming up with. Try reading this story “I Find Dead People – A Day in the Life of a Human Remains (Cadaver) Detection Dog” that appeared in K9 Magazine Issue 5. There are stories expressing sympathy for Shannon’s family here and from city councillors here. The community have come forward in full force dropping leaflets here, showing massive support here, hold a march and a vigil here and turn out in droves to search for her here. Yet, there is no sign of this sad little girl who just wanted to be with her dad! It took her mysterious disappearance, to only God knows what fate, to make us all realise how vulnerable children can be. Will we ever learn? 

Since finding out about nine-year-old Shannon Matthews disappearance from Kak Teh, I make a point of checking Google news for news of her rescue as well as that of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar and Madeleine McCann. Alas, each day passes and I am bereft of good news on all three counts. Sitting here in front of this computer that connects me to the borderless world where the good, the bad, the ugly and the utterly disgusting mingle in uncensored freedom, I ponder why should it matter the loss of Shannon way over there in West Yorkshire when our own Sharlinie is still missing here?

For me, I am keeping track of the media coverage for Shannon and it has been quite an educational experience indeed. Only a week after her disappearance have the West Yorkshire police finally declared that she may have been abducted as reported here, here, here, and here. Like us in the search for Sharlinie here, hope is all the police have left in the search for Shannon here, amidst fears for the worst here. The community too has pulled together to help in the search here and here, with 500 calls received here.

The UK police even do strange things like trawl a pond here and here, quiz 1,500 motorists here, dig up the uncle’s garden here, search CCTV footage here, search house to house here leaving no stone unturned here. The cops also rummage rubbish bins and dive into sewers here and use sniffer dogs that trace the remains of a dead child in a fomer children’s home here and lists all their efforts here. Alas, to no avail! Interesting articles include talking about grief here and stories of survivors of child abduction and rape here and one asking readers who may feel troubled by the stories and in need of counselling to contact someone but I can’t find that article. Will update you if I find it again.

Anyway, like many people, I await good news on either of these girls and for many more missing children out there. Will those candidates going house to house to campaign in the run up to 8 March, 2008 please also be on the lookout for Sharlinie. The rakyat could sure use some good news that no one can dispute right now!

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Feeling wicked on spotting gazillion campaign posters, even of ‘almost candidates’ not in the running, sprouting all over on the way home this evening, I searched for political satire on YouTube. Of the hilariously funny and truly inspired madness, it was the Made-in-Malaysia-by-Malaysians videoclips that filled me with dread, despair and doom. Is there really no dawn unless…..???!!!  Then, I found this videoclip of the Free Hugs Campaign started by Juan Mann whose, as this official website here says, “sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives“. Read Juan’s story and tell me what is the purpose of your campaign, to make me feel better or just because of you?:

I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown. Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me. So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words “Free Hugs” on both sides. And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling. Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven’t compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.               

Dubbed a phenomenon by Wiki here, the Free Hugs Campaign began in June 2004 and became widely publicised in YouTube by an Australian band named Sickpuppies. The random act of kindness as simple as a free hug made many people feel better and the campaign continues. So spread the message!   

Message on YouTube: 

The response to this video has been nothing short of overwhelming and touching. Hugs to every single one of you who messaged. There has been thousands of emails from all over the world by people seeking to participate in the Free Hugs campaign and asking for permission. You do not need permission. This is the peoples movement, this is *your* movement. With nothing but your bare hands you can make THE difference. Imagine all the people.

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I couldn’t believe it but there is a Blame Society Productions in YouTube and these guys produce a really hilarious take on Star War’s Darth Vader’s fictitious younger brother Chad Vader. Even Wiki has a writeup here and the Blame website here or is it here? Get the Chad Vader DVD here. Watch out for upcoming Season Two! For lack of any intelligent news on our local TV stations already saturated with election campaign news, you might want to watch all eight episodes in Season One of Chad Vader. If we are going to watch mindless TV, we might as well watch these guys and I thought “blame” was a Malaysian original!

Life is hard when you’re Darth Vader’s less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother and you manage a grocery store.

This episode: Chad goes on a date, and senses a disturbance in the store.

THIS EPISODE: Chad returns after being demoted. Will the denizens of the creepy night shift prevent his plans to take back the dayshift from becoming fully operational?

THIS EPISODE: Major changes for Chad.

A tipsy Chad faces a lameness crisis. He gets help from an unexpected friend.

Chad Vader is back. He battles many obstacles in his search for meaningful employment. Meanwhile back at the store Clint is letting his newfound authority go to his head. Special cameo appearance by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

Chad and Commander Wickstrom hatch a plan to get Chad’s job back. Customers beware!

The long awaited battle between Clint and Chad is finally here. Episode 8, the last episode of Chad Vader: Season 1.

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News Update:

This intro to an article in UK’s The Independent here and the appeal for more information here is reminiscent of the questions we have been asking about Sharlinie since her disappearance in broad daylight more than a month ago. Where is Sharlinie?

Last night, in the town being combed day and night for missing nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, they were beginning to ask the question to which there is no comfortable answer: how come, in the most electronically scrutinised nation on earth and with a quarry wearing such distinctive clothing, there has been not a single CCTV image or sighting of her since she left her Dewsbury school on Tuesday afternoon?

……For since then the massive search of this West Yorkshire town has failed to yield a single clue to where Shannon can be. More than 250 police officers, plus volunteers, have spent four days and five nights in freezing temperatures searching the alleys, streets, wastelands and moors. Shannon’s face is on front pages, websites, posters, even T-shirts, and on television. But nothing…..(Read more here.)

While the whole country is abuzz with election fever, I searched the Net in the hope of good news and with half a mind to find out how the media in UK handled the search for the still missing nine-year-old girl Shannon Matthews. Alas, no good news was forthcoming and it struck me that, unlike the US, the UK did not launch what would be considered an Amber Alert or Child Rescue Alert for Shannon. However, the police have been using the media to the fullest to get information on the missing girl. She went missing on 19 Feb 2008 and the BBC news footage shows West Yorkshire police went on TV to appeal for information but already 48 hours after she went missing. The police officer interviewed did say that his officers had been working on her case within the first 24 hours of the report of her going missing. The West Yorkshire Police Department also keeps the public updated through their website here

Since then, CCTV footage of Shannon taken just hours before she went missing have been released to the public in the hope that someone would have seen her. It has been six days since her disappearance and the latest news is that there are fears that she may have been murdered here as police trawl the bottom of a pond for clues. I wonder why an Amber Alert was not triggered? Was it because the police had suspected that she is a runaway? Surely, a nine year old would never be safe alone no matter how streetwise she might be. I do appreciate though that the UK charity Missing People, published information and a poster of Shannon on their website here and were also invited on BBC’s Newsround to make an appeal to Shannon to call the Runaway Helpline. It is quite obvious that everyone concerned is focused on finding this child, hoping she is safe and, noticeably, they are not passing judgement nor blaming her parents.

I hope there will be good news soon for Shannon while we here in Malaysia will not have any news on the search for Sharlinie with the newspapers filled with election campaign stories in the run up to the March 8, 2008 polling date. Unfortunately for Sharlinie, though her name will be oft repeated in the same breath as Nurin Jazlin by political hopefuls, I wonder if the political aspirants would be just as eager to search for her in the midst of their door to door campaigning. Imagine if one of them found Sharlinie still alive and safe, the entire country would vote for that candidate and their party hands down! But would they really care to do that? No, other than blaming the police for the rise in crime rate, her parents for being negligent and the Government for everything under the sun, the political aspirants would be just as stumped as the West Yorkshire Police. Watch the following videoclips, a chronology of reports on BBC World News channel in YouTube:

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Surfing YouTube for videoclips I chanced upon this classic performance by the late Zainal Alam singing a song to urge citizens to cast their vote during the first general elections of 27th July, 1955. His jaunty and somewhat simplistic jingle gave handy tips on how to vote and a friendly reminder to bring along their identity cards. That got me off on a nostalgic trip down memory lane as I searched for another Zainal Alam classic song titled “Undilah” the only line that I can remember is “Undilah, kita semua……”. Alas I could not find it, that more catchy song that I used to hear all the time on radio and later, on black and white TV every general elections. For me General Elections has always meant Zainal Alam singing “Undilah”, my dad getting all dressed up to go voting and the posters and flags going up all over Kuala Lumpur. When it was my turn to vote on turning 21, I remember general elections always as a fun time, a carnival like atmosphere with the entire Taman calling out to their neighbours “Dah mengundi ke?”. Of course, the people in my neighbourhood are mostly retired civil servants who, come rain or shine, on wheelchairs or walking frame, they will make their way to the voting station. I sometimes wonder why there are still so many people young and old who are not registered and have never voted. Like the Ghanaian philosophy of Sankofa, I like to look back in time to remind myself that the right to vote did not come easy and that freedom is sancrosanct, never to be taken for granted. To remind me of how precious independence is and how much it meant to my late father, I also add these YouTube clips of a Filem Negara Malaysia documentary on Merdeka. Undilah!

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News Update:

If anyone is interested to watch previous episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, please visit this blog ( http://www.svuvids.blogspot.com/ ) or this YouTube channel svuvids .So far the blogger has posted 14 episodes of Season 1 on his blog.
For those trigger happy police (and others) who are quick to blame the parents when a child goes missing, you might want to read this report that the detective who originally led the hunt for Madeleine McCann is now facing trial over his conduct in another missing child case.

Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral – who was in charge of the Madeleine case when her parents were made the prime suspects – will appear in court accused of covering up the torture of a suspect during questioning in the other case. Amaral, 48, will stand trial along with four other officers – three of whom are alleged to have attacked Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter Joana vanished in 2004. The little girl disappeared from her home in Figueira, 11 kilometres from Praia da Luz where Madeleine was abducted last May.

While researching about the SVU, I came across the case of Trenton Duckett, a two-year-old who went missing in August 10, 2006. His mother, Melinda, was named a prime suspect on TV bringing inbearable pressure that eventually led to her suicide and a note left behind addressed to the “public”. The family of Melinda Duckett is reported here as having sued CNN and the Headline News Nancy Grace. The official search website for Trenton is here. This is such a sad case. How far can the police, the media and the public push the parents of missing children close to the edge? Who gives the media the right to play the role of judge, jury and executioner? Videoclips of Melinda’s interview here:

Farina’s latest comment prompted a salvo of searches on the Special Victims Unit (SVU) :

Tembam, with all these rising cases of missing, murdered, raped and/or abused children in Malaysia, I think its high time that our police force have their own SVU which specialises in them. that way, comes GE or wht ever else, these force would not be affected since their sole responsibility is on the children-related cases only.

Indeed, I could not find any reference to such a unit in our Royal Malaysian Police Force. I did find a recent Country Report in Malaysia here submitted to the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) based in Japan. (PS I accidentally clicked publish before I was done. More to come……)

Inevitably I found a reference to the TV drama programme Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in Wikipedia here. This series has already been aired in Malaysia but, like many things before Nurin, I never really took any interest. This series was based on the real life NYPD and Wiki says this about their SVU:

Special Victims Unit

The Special Victims Unit is housed in the detective borough commands of the NYPD. The Special Victims Unit is part of the Detective Bureau and investigates the following types of cases:

* Any child under 13 years of age that is the victim of any sex crime or attempted sex crime by any person.

  • Any child under 11 years of age who is the victim of abuse by a parent or person legally responsible for the care of the child.
  • Any victim of Rape (all degrees) or Attempted Rape (all degrees)
  • Any victim of Criminal Sexual Act (all degrees) or Attempted Criminal Sexual Act (all degrees)
  • Victims of Aggravated Sexual Abuse (all degrees)
  • Victims of sexual abuse 1st Degree

I stumbled upon the website of the Oakland Police and they have this to say about their SVU:

The Special Victims Unit performs the following functions:
• Investigates all cases involving the physical abuse of children.
• Investigates all cases involving the sexual abuse of children.
• Investigates all cases involving the sexual exploitation of children.

The sexual exploitation of children includes child prostitution, child pornography, child sex rings, internet crimes against children, and sexual tourism of children.

• Investigates all sexual assaults involving adults
• Monitors and coordinates compliance checks on registered sex offenders in the City of Oakland.
• Investigates registration violations by registered sex offenders in the City of Oakland.
• Monitors and responds to all calls received on the Sexual Assault/ Child Abuse “Tip Line.”

The Sexual Assault/Child Abuse “Tip Line” affords the public the ability to report sexual assault and child abuse crimes and/or receive personal police service regarding crimes that are very sensitive. The Sexual Assault/Child Abuse “Tip Line” is 510-637-0298. All messages received are addressed within 24 hours during normal business days.

The Special Victims Unit direct phone line is 510-238-7910.

This is the website of the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit here that have posted photos and sketches of suspects they are seeking in connection with reported crimes with a note: “Please take a moment to study the photos. If you think you recognize any of them, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or by completing our online tip form.”

It is quite obvious that the RMP does not have a special unit for this because I remember they just established a task force under the special unit for sexual offences against women and children as a result of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. Rakancop should consider using their approach to highlight photofits of suspects. There is obviously so much more that the RMP needs to address because the crime rate is on the rise and either the criminals are getting smarter and getting away or the police really are becoming dumber. I’d rather not believe the latter is the case because the safety of this nation and its citizens would be greatly at risk.

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