(Unpublished - Nov 3, 2010)
I learn with disgust Darren Ng Wei Jie's tragic death following an attack by a group of youths at Downtown East.
What was done to Darren is sickening and deplorable.
Several issues have gained greater scrutiny in the wake of the fatal attack. These include, among others, gang violence, youth delinquency and the lack of proper parenting.
Confrontations and altercations stemming from staring incidents are nothing new here. These often escalate when there are more individuals involved.
We need to address these issues in the context of a rapidly changing Singapore. We have to understand the context in which gang aggression and youth aggression are manifested, rather than looking at these items in isolation.
We require more than just education and healthy attention for youths, but also policies and initiatives to ensure they live and grow in environments that foster a healthy sense of social consciousness.
There has to be greater effort from various stakeholders to create positive and nurturing environments for our youths, such that they learn that violence is never a solution to anything.
The law may exercise zero tolerance on gang violence, but it is also up to policy-makers and the public to address the social and economic issues and conditions in which gang violence takes place.
There are worth addressing social and economic dimensions to the reality that some youths appear to have nothing to live for and are thus emboldened in groups and in resolve when committing an act of violence. Why and how are they disconnected and disenfranchised?
Be it the issue of youth violence, juvenile delinquency, gang violence, among others, we have to address these issues in the contexts they exist.
Darren's case is most tragic and unfortunate.
Given the nature of an armed attack, the public could do nothing but alert the authorities, or risk being harmed themselves.
Prevention is key, and this does not merely involve stepping up law enforcement; we need education, policies and initiatives to foster a peaceful society.
We can no longer take a reactive approach to gang violence or violence of any other kind because we do not deserve another unnecessary death after Darren's.
I wish to express my condolences to Darren's family and friends.
Ho Chi Sam