Today I want to share the disgust expressed by a TTDI resident. This article appeared in The Malaysian Insider’s SIDEVIEW:
Rich in your pocket, poor in your soul - A disgusted TTDI resident
Death is never a pleasant subject. Doubly so if the person chooses to take his or her own life in a public manner. On September 11, a foreign migrant worker from Nepal took his own life in the lush and posh neighbourhood of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
The deceased, as was revealed a day later, was one of tens of thousands of migrant workers brought into Malaysia to work as a helper in one of the generic "Kopitiam" chain restaurants which had closed down over the month of Ramadan.
From then on, he had no work, no pay and no way to go back to his beloved family and friends in Nepal. In essence, he was stuck in not only an economic limbo but also a geographic limbo with little way out.
Under the mental strain of having had to pay the eye-watering debt he owed to agents for his journey here, he took his own life in the most public way on a rooftop of one of the shophouses where he lived.
This story unfortunately is a lot more common than we think, what with employers and the system allowing for such migrant workers to be exploited and abused in the worst possible manner. I shall refrain from elaborating on this issue as being a non-expert, I am sure many of you reading this are aware of their problems.
This is, however, about a handful of residents of this so-called posh neighbourhood.
What happened, thanks to social media, was just as shocking, if not more shocking than the suicide itself. TTDI has a community page on Facebook where the residents communicate on lost and found pets, sale of food, restaurant reviews, crimes and traffic problems. If you were to go to the page, you would see a lot of petty postings such as of residents complaining about their neighbours taking over the public nature strips outside their houses. That is to be expected from residents of a posh enclave priding themselves on being educated, well travelled and shall I say sophisticated.
On the morning of September 11, someone posted a picture of the now deceased on the roof, asking for verification that such an event is actually happening. Confirmations came in, with some people reporting that people were shouting at the man, goading him to jump.
This sparked a debate on the Facebook page, which revealed much about the hearts and minds of a few of the residents there. One said he should just jump and get over it, one even said that there was no way he could die from a relatively short height, which was of course proven wrong.
This absolutely disgusted the majority of the residents, me included. I have to caveat this because the most heartening thing that came out of this was that a majority of the residents chided the few who mocked, made fun of and assumed many things about the deceased. One even said that he wished he had actually jumped, instead of rolling off the roof in an undramatic fashion and falling to his death. To be fair, emergency services were there with an air mattress but he evaded it so that death could embrace him, to end his extremely miserable short life on this Earth (he was only 30 years old).
Some said that he was looking for attention and if he indeed was seeking attention, can we blame him?
Some residents even posted the picture of the corpse, uncovered and even videos of the “action”, all in the name of “educating” everyone on this tragedy. The administrators then removed the videos and pictures after an outcry. Of course the next day, some pictures were posted on this event in the newspaper, accompanying the story on the suicide. Of course being that editors are experts at self-censorship, less gory pictures were published. The residents who had their pictures and videos removed from the community page, in all their pompousness declared that if the newspapers could publish it, why not them?
My answer to that is, it’s a question of taste and respect to the deceased. While newspapers are out to sell more newspapers and increase their revenue, are the people who posted it on the community page out to garner a reputation for themselves?
Whilst they were not on-site goading the deceased, the semi-anonymity of posting on Facebook or any social media does not give them any immunity having played a small part in contributing to not only this man's death, but any future would-be suicides. Mocking, bullying and encouraging on social media is as good as them being there. Recent cases in the US and UK have revealed how mass online bullying has encouraged a shockingly high number of teenagers into committing suicide. Be it may that they were troubled children in the first place, one of the rules of humanity which I quote from Hippocrates is, "First, Do No Harm".
For it to come from a community that would help each other look for lost pets, bring lost pets into their homes until their owners were found, hold charity drives (yes, we do have a gaggle of social climbers who hoot and toot about their charity work), have strays medically treated with an ad hoc catch-and-release programme.
This contradiction in the character of a community in itself calls for people to have a long hard look at themselves. I am not asking for my neighbours to have rushed to the site and try to rescue him or try to talk him out of it. None of us are equipped with the necessary skills to do this. I am asking for something that is so simple to be and do. Just be a good human. Refrain from speaking ill of someone who has lost not only his mind, but also everything he has, and much much more.
I hope a lot of my neighbours, and I am targeting the ones who mocked and later tried to aggressively justify why they said what they said, that I hope one day you never have to lose your child in this manner.
I don't have confidence though that this message will get through to such people because they're so firmly ensconced in their luxurious air-conditioned home, lying on their Egyptian cotton bed sheets staring numbly at their 44” flat screen that their world is as far away as it possibly can be from an indentured migrant worker's life. For all their air of sophistication, attempts at writing in English, shopping at designer boutiques and travels to exotic countries that they so proudly display on their Facebook pages, their reactions just tell me how rotten they are inside.
From the good, kind people of TTDI, as most of us are, I would like to extend my condolences and apologies to the family of the Nepalese man. May he rest in peace. - September 12, 2013.