When the Deputy Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah proposed a midnight curfew for teenagers below 18, various responses were received. While some applauded the effort, quite a number of backlashes were also received. Some of the disagreement must be appreciated and considered when defining the methodology of the curfew, especially when the critical comments came from the viewpoint of teenagers originating from low income or unfortunate families that have a totally different life schedule and life support than any average “luckier” teenager. However, quite a number of the other backlashes were simply mere arguments that lacked substances.
Analyzing the various responses to the midnight curfew proposal highlights the very fact that our society have contradicting demands. And this contradicting demands are also obvious in many other cases.
Take the recent banning of smoking in food premises by the Health Minister as an example. Numerous scientific studies have proven the danger of smokes for both smoker and secondary smoker. Many Malaysians also support the noble effort as it ensures a safer and cleaner environment for the rest of the society especially for children in public food premises. Surprisingly, however, we now have 7 individuals- who can’t resist their inner desire to not smoke within 3 meters from public food premises- who are ready to bring this case to court. What are the interests of these 7 individuals?
Another example; we all want our kids to be safe from hideous sexual acts and secured from being victims of rape. Yet, when calls to limit the level of mingling between boys and girls are made, when boys are told to lower their gaze while girls are taught to dress modestly, when tv shows, movies and concerts that are sexually inappropriate are screened, you will find another portion of society rising up to object all these preventive measures. What are in the interest of these people? Do they not share the same concern to protect our children?
The above are just a few examples to explain the contradicting demands of our society. Everybody seems to have their own interest that they want to protect, and by doing so, they become selfish and could not worry less about the larger risk that would be affecting everyone else. Likewise, in the case of implementing midnight curfew to teenagers below 18, no solution would suffice until everyone share the same objective to really protect our future generations.
And that is what missing in our society today that is hindering us from moving forward; the same secret ingredient that was key to the uprising of any nations in this world – shared, highly respectable, modest and civilized values. The practice of democracy in this country makes it even more important to reach a consensus on these shared values; because if the majority does not share these values, then the future of our nation is at stake.
Cigarettes and drugs are bad for your health and should be banned – this should be our shared value that we uphold as a society. Pornography, be it soft or hard is bad for the society – this should be our shared value that we uphold as a society. Children are our future generation that we should protect and groom to be bright responsible future leaders – this should be our shared value that we uphold as a society.
Alas, what we once thought was common sense and straight forward is no longer common in the liberalized world today. Faking degrees is no longer considered unethical. Bribery and cheating can easily slipped through for as long as you are doing something else that is ‘noble’ for the people. Bizarre ‘psychotic’ ideologies are being proposed and promoted from day to day and labelled progressive while those who chose to stick with the normal, standard and civilized values are labelled fundamentalist, outdated and even to some extend, extreme.
Our nation and society will continue to be in the mess it is today, for as long as we allow this craziness to continue. The solution for the social issues, and raising drug problems with our younger generation will never be solved. We decide what we want to happen to them. It is high time that we as the citizens of Malaysia hold on to shared values in the interest of our future generation and push aside alien ideologies that will hinder us from moving forward as a nation.
Hanan binti Othman
Exco of The International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ) and also Activist of Isma Kuala Lumpur