ARE we under siege, I was asked by a businessman over the weekend. Not an external siege but rather, an internal one. I would have ignored the question but it was asked with all seriousness and he went on to cite examples reflecting his query.
First, he mentioned the gruesome murder od Nurin Jazimin. And this was preceeded by several other killings of young persons in the recent past. The fact that so many of them are missing and not found triggers fresh fears among parents and society at large.
Second, violent crime appear to be on the rise. Killings appear to be more rampant, he said, arguing that one needs only to go through the newspapers to check that out. The recklessness of road-users too have contributed to many deaths on our roads and highways.
You must have known friends and relatives whose houses and offices have been burgled. A friend had his new house burgled and there wasn't much the Police could do to help! He's decided to get a couple guard dogs instead.
Third, food prices have been increasing steadily. In fact, in some cases, food items are not available. Maybe it's just the festive season but there's going to be a number of festivals between now and early next. Does this mean consumers are going to be deprived of these items for that long period?
Some trade unionists are talking about boycotting some items. This is not the first time they've been talking about this but in the past they were nothing but empty threats.
Fourth, jobs are hard to come by, this chap complained. He asked where are the new jobs being created? And what's wrong in choosing jobs, he said. I told him that jobs are available but our boys and girls are choosy.
Fifth, we now have marching lawyers demanding freedom for the judiciary! This was unheard of before, the businesman said. Not wanting to be an alarmist, he said that the recent march appeared to have sparked renewed interest among members of the legal profession about the state of the judiciary.
I for one would urge restraint on all parties. But the authorities must handle this very carefully. Engaging the thinking public by show of force would not work. Pakistan's Musharaf is sweating when lawyers march and things almost got out of hand.
The monks are marching in Myanmar and nobody knows how this is going to turn out. If the ordinary people in Myanmar were to join the monks, more blood could spill...
Nearer to home, the Batu Burok incident is still fresh in our mind, thanks to the repeated footage on national television. I wonder what impact the violent confrontation has on the local population. And elsewhere too for that matter...
So, you tell me - Are we under siege?