Still Missing after One Month
Published: 23 September 2015
It's been a month now that the 7 Temiar children have gone missing. Despite the search by the parents and villagers, as well as by the Army and the local volunteer reserve corps (RELA), there has been no positive evidence of them having been lost or moving around in the forests surrounding their school at Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang.
Getting the story right
The general consensus is that the search effort had a number of shortcomings and weaknesses. Even some of the reportage had been inaccurate or else exposes the myths some still have about the Orang Asli.
For example, the Sun recently headlined a (Bernama) story as: "40 bomohs and witch-doctors engaged in search for missing children".
Never mind the fact that the 40 'bomohs' were actually members of the Senoi Praaq from Bidor who attended the 3-day sewang ritual presided over by two Temiar shamans. And the fact that this elite Orang Asli unit of the PoliceGeneral Operations Force (PGA) were not called to participate in the search for the missing children.
But witch-doctors among the Orang Asli?
Also, these 7 children were not the ones who were caught swimming in the river by the teacher. It was their elder brothers and sisters. The 7 had chosen to run away with them but the others were discovered and brought back to the school. The 7, for reasons which we can only speculate now, chose to go ahead with their plan to run away from school.
Consider the kidnap scenario
After one month, it is only reasonable that the parents are beginning to lose hope of ever seeing their children again.
Ayel Ajip, the father of 9-year-old Ika, feels this way. However, he does not reject the probability that the children were kidnapped on the first day itself.
"Kalau mereka lari ke hutan sudah tentu mereka ditemui oleh pihak yang menjalankan operasi mencari. Ini langsung tiada kesan."
(If they had run into the forest, for sure they would have been found by those conducting the search. As it is, there has been absolutely no trace at all.)
Change the search's scope
Ayel further feels that the case should be given more publicity so that the general public can help search for the missing children over a new search zone -- the rural and urban centers, and even at the international borders.
He hopes that the police and the public will distribute and display photos of the missing children so that members of the public can look out for them. Or see if they remember seeing anything unusual a month ago, involving the children so pictured.
He knows that this is not a new idea. The Malaysian public is usually quick to rally behind the distraught parents of a missing child in town, resorting to social media and printed posters, sometimes with success.
Given that the kidnap theory seems a probable reason for their disappearance, this now seems a reasonable course of action to take.
Nasir Dollah | CN | COAC
23 September 2015