Monday, October 27, 2008

Malaysia: the Dark Side... a land of drug addicts and thieves?

Most mornings we go for a walk. We drive to a park, leave the car by the side of the road and walk inside the park (mostly because there are no footpaths in our housing estate). This morning, during the course of that half hour's walk someone smashed the window of our car and took a small amount of money. I believe someone else's car was broken into as well. The good news is that they cut themselves doing it.*

I just spent two months in the USA, including time in the heart of Los Angeles. I was forever carrying my laptop with me. Whenever we parked the car, I carried it. My daughter said, "Leave it in the car! Why do you want to bring it with you everywhere?" The answer, of course, was because in Malaysia it would be almost certainly stolen and I've gotten paranoid about it.

In the US, I was in numerous homes - and not one was surrounded by a tall fence with a locked gate. Not one had bars on the windows. People go out and leave windows open. They don't have dead locks and alarms. They have glass panels in the doors. They never seem to get robbed. They carry sling bags and never get them snatched.

Here in Malaysia the only homes that don't have bars and padlocks, fences and gates, belong to the excruciatingly poor.

During those 2 months in the USA, no one I was staying with, nor any of their friends or relatives, was robbed.

I come back home from the US to find that while I was away some people had tried to enter our house at night, simultaneously with a neighbour's house. Fortunately, we both have alarms and they ran off. The neighbour's fence was cut. My husband and another family member were in the house at the time and you can bet your life the thieves were armed.
It is now averaging out at one attempt a year to break into our home.

Meantime, the family house in the village had all the wiring stripped by a thief - with extensive damage. Everyone "knows" who did it - a neighbour's grandson. A drug addict. In spite of knowing this, and a police report, nothing is done.

And here is a quote from the Malaysian Psychiatric Association website:

"... the potential numbers of addicts in Malaysia is quite staggering, a possible one million addicts in our country of 25 million, or 4% of the populace! In comparison, some statistics from the United States estimate that the number of addicts there is one in 3,000, or only 0.03% of their population."

The really weird thing about the addicts is that a staggering disproportionate number are Malays and therefore Muslims.**
I wonder what the connection is? (The answer, of course, is usually to suggest more religion and more onerous religious restrictions as the cure-all, although that patently has not worked in the past and may in fact be part of the problem. I guess it's easier than looking for causes...?)

Malaysia loves to present itself as a land of Asian values (whatever they are), full of people who would never cheat on their taxes, let alone be drug addicts and thieves.

Malaysians can't even obey the law on the little things - every time there is a festival of any of the cultural groups, I hear illegal fireworks going off all over the place. The police turn a blind eye. Yep, everyone breaks the law and expects their kids to grow up with respect for the law.
But that's not how it works, mate. You start with the little things.

We have become a land of thieves and drug addicts.
___________________________
* I hope they get gangrene.
**One figure I read was 97%, although I don't know if that is accurate as it was hearsay on a blog, supposedly via a ministry official. Other figures I have heard - in 2005 around 66% of drug addicts arrested were Malays, figures for Kuala Lumpur - a city which has a high population of non-Malays. This figure is often touted as applicable to the whole country. I doubt anyone knows. Malays make up about half the population, although this is also a difficult figure to pinpoint as there are many other non-immigrant people of different but similar ethnicity who are Muslims.
All this has led to a sad joke to explain the sometimes 60-40 ratio of Malay women compared to Malay men in institutions of higher learning: the women are in university, the men in drug rehab.
Yay to Malay women, I say.


3 comments:

hrugaar said...

Interesting article on the MPA website. I notice that the number of addicts registered with the National Drug Agency in July 2006 was 300,000, thus about 1.2% of population, and they're estimating that the actual figure could be up to 4% ... but then even 1.2% is pretty high.

Also, as I'd guessed, the figure covers a whole range of substance abuse including cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines etc. (what here we sometimes refer to as 'recreational drugs', though still illegal) and even glue and solvent-sniffing, as well as the hard opiates. But it's still a worryingly high percentage.

I think you're right that the oppressiveness of relgious and cultural values probably has some contributing effect - especially when there is a direct clash with the emerging wealth and (alleged) 'freedom' of Western cultures in places like KL.

Here on the rock we have les of a problem with drugs becasue the police and customs work jolly hard to thwart the importation. But we still have serious problems with alcohol abuse and eating disorders (obesity more than anorexia) which are kind of inherent within our culture. And just down the road from us a car windscreen was smashed so that the thief could steal the £1 note that was on the dashboard. :\

Satima Flavell said...

Maybe that's what's needed, Glenda - all those clever and sensible women who go to university grandually taking over the government.

Jo said...

Its interesting you found life safer in the US Glenda 'cos I can assure you their jails are just as full as they are here. I would never leave a laptop in a car unless I hid it in the trunk (boot).

Malaysia sounds more like South Africa as far as crime is concerned, I know my two cousins gave up living there and returned to the UK.

So far, we don't have to have bars and alarms where we live and I don't think anywhere in Canada is that unsafe.