On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Bad news and more bad news

It was a depressing start to the day. There has been too
much bad news over the past few months, even for seasoned journalists like me
who are seldom shocked by what we see or hear.

On Thursday, we learned that all the seven people on
board the Bell 206 Hornbill Skyways helicopter that crashed at Mount
Murud on July 12 had been confirmed

Just a day earlier, the media reported the gruesome
murder of a young couple, Pok Chua Wen and Chong Pui Wan, near an abandoned
pond in Bahau, Negri Sembilan. It was a senseless killing by two robbers.

Police, meanwhile, have yet to arrest those responsible
for the brutal murder of MCA Youth leader Mah Ann Ann. All five people remanded
over the case were freed last week.

Then there was the murder of final-year law student
Darren Kang at a restaurant in Sri Hartamas. A number of people, including
foreigners, have been arrested and charged in court.

At dinner functions, I have been asked why the media
continued to highlight such tragedies. Readers need cheering up, suggested my
fellow diners, adding that there must be more happy news to make newspapers

I wish there were. Editors and reporters, at least those
in The Star, have agreed to strive for more feel-good reports that would put a
smile on the faces of readers in the morning. One editor even wanted a page to
be devoted to happy news, although he wasn't sure whether there would be enough
of such news.

Surely, there must be more inspiring stories like the
determination of medical student Lennard Lee who swam across the English
Channel. But, in reality, there are more sad stories to tell than
happy ones.

My friend, Datuk Kalimullah Hassan, the group chief
editor of New Straits Times, wrote recently that he, too, asked his fellow
editors for more happy stories.

I often have people telling me that the world is no
longer as safe as it used to be. This is not necessarily so. History students
would tell you that the world was worse before.

In Malaysia,
during the Japanese Occupation and the Emergency, no one could tell whether
family members would return home in the evening after work. Life was that

We now have more access to information. We have watched
in horror on the Internet how Islamic militants beheaded their hostages even as
TV stations banned these visuals because they were too gruesome.

Newspapers have been blamed for reporting the spate of
crime but there is no point in shooting the messengers. We in the media also
feel that enough is enough.

It is time for Malaysians to join hands with the police
in fighting crime. We must be more concerned with the source and the root
causes of these crimes. Besides insisting on the presence of policemen
everywhere, Malaysians need to educate themselves on self-protection.

Bureaucrats and politicians should be more concerned
about solving cases instead of complaining about the media reporting on crime.
We should not sweep our problems under the carpet or pretend they don't exist.

Despite the many reports of snatch thefts and the media
printing pictures of bags women should avoid carrying, how many of these crime
prevention reports have been taken seriously by the people?

We advise our young to stay away from isolated and dark
spots but how many young people would heed such advice? We tell our children to
walk away from a fight but you would often encounter the rage of motorists if
you're a little slow in giving way.

More couples, we are told, have given up the institution
of marriage for career and personal pursuits. Families have broken up while
foreign maids have taken over the role of mothers.

Worse, we never had so many foreigners in Malaysia
before. The sadder part is that many seem to be able to obtain permanent
resident status despite being labourers and maids.

But I am an optimist. The news reports for the past
weeks, I believe, must have shocked many Malaysians. Things can improve if we
pray hard enough.