As we were about to leave the house at dawn for our walk, our nextdoor neighbour called us across to the fence to tell us they had been woken up just before five a.m. by the sound of a gas tank being heaved at their locked bedroom door. Before they could do anything, four men rushed into the room and held a knife to the throat of the woman. They were robbed of their handphones, laptop, camera, cash and jewellery. They were then tied up with their son and the thieves left.
They both seem remarkably cool about such a terrifying experience. As the couple are government pensioners, they are hardly rich and one of their concerns during the course of the robbery was whether they would be able to persuade the robbers that they really didn't have scads of dollars and diamonds hidden in some secret place.
Such robberies have become a way of life. Hardly a week goes by that we don't hear of another in our area. The perpetrators often appear to be Indonesian workers who think having a night job is part of the deal of an immigrant worker in Malaysia. We have had two recent unsuccessful robbery attempts during the day at our house (I startled one by coming back, my sister-in-law did the same thing to the other), followed by a devastatingly destructive robbery that resulted in four smashed doors and a cut grille, lost cash, laptop, camera and - because they took the whole dry box - the loss years of irreplaceable digital photographs. I'm just glad that no one was home. We now have an extensive, supposedly foolproof, alarm system.
It seems we pay the price for having a poverty-stricken neighbour across the Straits of Malacca that exports its thieves along with its hard workers.
The other kind of common theft - more probably committed by local drug addicts - is the theft of metal. People come home to find their gates missing; in the street everything goes - the metal covers to drains, signs, poles, fences, guard rails, even electricity pylons have been brought crashing down by such brainfried idiots...
The shame of this is that there must be so many local people willing to deal in stolen goods to make it all worthwhile. We are quick to blame Indonesians, but they are selling the fruits of their robberies to someone. The people who buy the metal, the cheap handphone, the laptop: you are just as guilty as the man who holds the knife to the neck of a terrified child. Be careful, my friend; next time it might by you woken up in the middle of the night, your children threatened with death. Think twice.
On the reading front, I am halfway through Roth's Plot Against America, which leaves me, each time I put the book down, with a deep sense of sadness at the human idiocy of hope. I don't mean the sort of hope that inspires, but rather the kind of hope that people hang onto in place of common sense and wisdom because they don't think. Because it's easier to hope things will turn out all right, than to do something to make it happen.
Just to round out the day, our roof is leaking. I called in someone to fix it. He came, did something, told us our whole roof needs replacing, and left.
Then it rained. Heavily. We now have two leaks instead of one. Or rather, we have the original drip into a bucket in the dining room, and a waterfall down the wall in the family room. What the hell did they do?