MOST would agree that it is important to foster good ties with neighbours yet in recent times, the bond of neighbourliness has weakened in Ipoh.
Those who were interviewed by The Star said that getting to know one’s surrounding neighbours could promote beneficial relationships as well as address security issues in the neighbourhood.
Healthcare professional Alicia Chong, 46, said knowing her neighbours and exchanging contact numbers with them could do both parties some good.
“There was once my house gate was not closed and it was basically an accidental invitation for intruders to walk in.
“Thank goodness my neighbour saw it and alerted my husband so he could rush back to close the gate,” she said, adding that her neighbour kept an eye on her house while the gate was open.
On May 20, the case of a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was believed to have been gang-raped over 30 times by more than 10 men allegedly high on drugs in Ketereh, Kelantan has caused an outrage among the public.
What became even more appalling to the police was that no one in the kampung was suspicious and that the closest neighbour was merely 20m away.
Public apathy has now become a major concern because police reported that the villagers nearby were totally unaware of the drug haunt and if they had reported the problem, it would have been addressed immediately.
Chong said these days, people are not aware of their neighbourhood surroundings probably because electronic devices such as the television had kept them occupied.
“They take pleasure in these entertainment sources and stay home often, and it is probably why people are becoming more self-centered and lack sympathy as well,” she said, adding that she felt sad that such a heinous crime could befall the defenceless girl in a kampung where people would supposedly be totally aware of what was going on in their area.
She related that there is a house in her neighbourhood that has been vacant for at least 10 years.
“Sometimes, when my husband and I happen to pass by, we will try to peer in to check if there could be suspicious people lurking around the house.
“My neighbours would also share information with me if they saw any unfamiliar and unsavoury-looking characters passing by our houses so we could be on guard,” she said.
Feeling increasingly fearful for the safety of her four daughters after reading news of the gang-rape was Sarihah Daud, 43.
“People need to make acquaintance with their neighbours so that they could help each other in emergency situations.
“They are the first person you can contact for help if your immediate family does not stay near you,” said the clerk who lives in Gopeng with her family.
With crime cases on the rise yearly in Malaysia, she said security in the neighbourhood could be strengthened if neighbours worked with one another to identify possible crime-prone areas.
“However, times have changed.
“Back when I was young, my neighbours would often greet my family and we were free to communicate with one another.
“Now, I think whenever someone comes to the front of your house to say ‘hello’ to your children, you would probably feel suspicious and tell your children not to speak to strangers,” Sarihah told The Star.
Businessman Kelvin Koh, 45, said in residential areas where every building has built up walls, every house could be a potential crime spot, especially vacant houses.
“It is essential to bring the attention of such structures to the authorities so that steps could be taken to demolish them.
“At the very least, security volunteers or the police could patrol around the area and be on the lookout for crime too,” said the father of two who lives in Gunung Rapat.
He said people now lead a more frantic pace of life due to work, thus leading to them not caring as much as they used to about what could be happening in their neighbourhood, let alone make friends with their neighbours.
“I could only greet them and say a word or two if I happen to see them outside of the house when I am leaving for work.
“But I would make it a point to get to know them more during off days or weekends and even bring them some goodies during festive seasons such as Chinese New Year,” said Koh.