Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Shock and horror on 2nd January 2007

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Read on. It's self explanatory. Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, her husband, and her two boys are close friends.

If you agree with her sentiments, please paste and copy in your blog too.


The start to the New Year has been anything but happy for my family and I. As we settled down for the evening of January 2nd after a lovely dinner with some good friends and in readiness for work after the long Hari Raya and New Year weekend, little did we suspect the terror and horror that we were to endure only hours later .

At approximately 0300 on the morning of January 3rd, I was awoken by the blood-curdling scream of my maid from her bedroom down the corridor. At that instant I was sure that she would be dead. I opened my eyes to find two men, one brandishing a cleaver and the other a foot long knife at the end of my bed shouting “Bangun, diam, kalau tidak aku bunuh engkau semua”. My initial reaction was that this was a nightmare, these are things that you read about in newspapers, that it could not possibly be happening to us. But at the sound of my seven year old who was sleeping next to me saying “Mum, what is happening, who are these people?”, I knew that this was real, that our lives were in danger. At the same instant, my husband who was also awoken by my maid’s scream rushed out the bedroom door only to be confronted by the other two robbers. I was initially left frozen in fear with my two sons in our bed as the robbers proceeded to tie my husband up. They then came back to me and asked me to come out of the bedroom and proceeded to tie my hands up as well, all the time reminding us to be quiet or they would kill us. I was subsequently asked to get my maid out from her room where upon initially sighting the robbers in the house she had locked herself in.

From then they proceeded to ransack the house. My elderly mother in-law who was visiting from overseas was also held at knife point as they proceeded to ransack her suitcase. In there the robbers found a bounty as she had returned for the 75th birthday celebration of her sister and had some jewellery for the special occasion. Incredulous that I did not possess the same amount of valuables in my bedroom the robbers proceeded to ransack every nook and cranny of the room and repeatedly asked me for them. The brazenness of these robbers can be gleaned by the fact that apart from one who wore a scarf over his mouth the other three made no attempts at disguising their identities. Furthermore they were in the house for approximately 45 minutes, showing no fear of being caught as they satisfied themselves to the contents of our house.

As we sat there terrified but quiet as they went about their “job” a recurring thought that came to my mind was that yes I need to be able to identify these people. But I was also constantly reminded of my nine year old son’s advise whenever we get invaded by monkeys (of the macaque kind) at the house “Mum, never look at the monkeys in the eyes or they think you are challenging them”. And that was exactly how I felt then – these people who had invaded and entered our house that morning were no longer human beings. They were no different to the packs of macaques that regularly invade our house looking for food. They only left after finding my diamond wedding and engagement ring which I had slipped off my finger initially and placed under my pillow. It was literally a scene out of the Malay saying “macam kera dapat bunga” – for upon discovering the ring they converged and consulted one another and agreed that it was time to leave.

Syukur alhamdullilah in the end none of us were harmed. My two young sons whose childhood innocence was shattered that night were nothing but heroes. They did not utter a peep nor cried for if they had done that I am certain the rest of us adults would not have been able to remain as calm as we did – which I believed was what saved the day. Visibly trembling with fear as they sat on their bed I can only imagine what was going through their minds as they saw us adults being tied up and the robbers walking around the house, all the time brandishing weapons in their hands.

The police came shortly after we called 999. Several divisions of the police force came in succession over the course of the morning. Much as I am grateful to them, I did get a sense that they had “been there and done that” many times before. That they too were overwhelmed by the sheer number of these robberies and break ins. I have always suspected that by and large the police have had a raw deal in terms of their pay and work environment. But it is only when you see it with your own eyes do you realise that yes they have been having a raw deal for a long time. In an interview with me for The Edge early last year, the journalist remarked that my office surrounding at the University Malaya Medical Centre was austere for someone who was a President of this and Chairman of that. I wish this same journalist could visit the office of the Chief Inspector and the forensic department of the PJ police station (and I suspect the Chief Inspector has one of the better offices in the complex) – suffice to say that the general condition of the office was not where you would want to spend most of your working day in.

Having experienced an ordeal such as this one goes through a whole range of emotions. After the initial fear had settled down, the first emotion to set in was guilt – why did we not make our house more secure? However in talking to various people who have had similar experience, it became clear that even the best systems in the world were not going to prevent this from happening. Am I angry with the robbers? Of course I am angry. But I am less angry with them than I am with the whole system that has allowed this lawlessness and disorder to take place time after time after time. A system that has led to the pursuit of economic wealth at all cost. A system that glorifies and often times reward greed and material wealth. A system that has watched moral and societal decay and increased economic inequalities go by with no discernible actions to put it right. A system that puts more emphasis and priorities on billboards touting this and that rather than spending those dollars on paying our policeman better and making their work environment more pleasant for instance. To be honest I do not even care if these robbers are caught and sent to prison or not. For if these four are caught there are thousands more like them already planning and waiting to strike on the next neighbourhood, the next family.

When my husband and I made a conscious decision to return to Malaysia after many years of studying and working overseas it was to return to our families and to contribute our skills and expertise to the country. This episode has made us rethink if this was indeed the correct decision, not perhaps for us, for yes we have enjoyed enormous satisfaction from returning up until this sorry event, but for our two young children. Will they have to grow up in this increasingly violent country where they will not be able to go to sleep at night without worrying if they are going to wake up to a knife pointed at their throats?

As we celebrate the 50th year of Merdeka and spend lavishly on attracting tourists to the country, is it too much for this citizen (and every other citizen for that matter) who chose to make Malaysia home and partake in another 10-20 years of nation building to ask that we may go about our lives knowing that we will be safe and protected?

Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman

Petaling Jaya


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