KUALA LUMPUR: Each time local daredevil rooftopper Keow Wee Loong posts a picture of his latest stunt online, the 27-year-old is prepared for a backlash – on the ground!
The climber, who has scaled some of the tallest buildings in the world and even crossed into radioactive zones, says the negative reactions still puzzle him.
“People call me stupid for endangering my own life. First of all, it is not a crime. It’s just a calculated risk to explore.
“When Westerners do it, they will say ‘wow awesome!’,” he said.
The authorities are up in arms over two recent viral videos showing different groups of youngsters climbing and performing risky stunts in Ipoh.
One group climbed up the iconic Ipoh sign perched on a hilltop at the entrance to the town while another recorded himself on top of a crane.
Keow, who has carved a name for himself as Malaysia’s best known “daredevil”, said youths should be allowed to “explore”.
“They are just kids having a good time with their friends.
“We should not threaten them with prison and fines when they are just trying to explore, and discover themselves.
“It’s just like rock climbing, jumping off a plane or scuba diving with sharks ... life is not just about work and nothing else,” Keow said.
Meanwhile, one of the youngsters who was filmed pitching a hammock atop the Ipoh sign last week said she and her friends were cooperating with the police.
Police had taken statements from the group about the stunt, in which selfies of them went viral online.
According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, in the United States, this new extreme form of selfies, tagged “killfies”, had been increasing in popularity since 2013 with grave effects.
The study revealed that 127 people had been killed around the world between 2014 and September last year while performing dangerous stunts just to get that perfect picture.
A majority of those killed while taking a selfie were millennials with 80% of those killed being under the age of 25. India accounted for most of the deaths with 76.
In 2014, Malaysian police recorded six selfie-related deaths.
Psychologist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said daredevil selfies seemed to be gaining popularity as a form of self-expression.
“Ultimately, that perfect selfie is not worth risking one’s life, or that of others,” said the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) deputy president.
He said that while it was natural for youngsters to seek attention and approval from peers, he believes those who resort to “extreme selfies” may be looking to boost their self-esteem.
“In some cases of daredevil selfies, this can be a reflection of narcissistic personality traits of an individual demanding recognition through such unconventional and law-defying antics,” he said.
Malaysian Psychiatric Association committee member Dr Abdul Kadir Abu Bakar believes the wide acceptance of “killfies” could lead to a liberalisation of what youths viewed as appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
“They think this is cool and testing the limits, but it is irresponsible and society should not condone it.
“This shouldn’t be accepted as an idea of fun. It is not funny,” he added.