For a mother like me who has sons the same age as the five youths (and one teacher) who perished in the dragon boat tragedy, it is very, very hard for me to endure. But I went nevertheless when I have a reason because there are many things that ran through my mind.
I was there last night because media members were informed by the CM’s office of a press conference. News came in from all sources including fake sms-es and word of mouth. So, I have the need to seek the truth. Being a citizen journalist, I want to use the role to ask the many questions that ran through the Penangites’ mind.
I surprised myself when I broke down and sobbed on the shoulder of my church friend who is with the Befrienders. But I got over it after a while. Still, I was so wary of shooting my video. It was a struggle and a dilemma. I want the public to know the trauma of the parents but without invading into their privacy. So, I took glimpse of each scene.
This morning, I intend NOT to go but instead, attend some heritage event. But I actually lost my way to Leboh Acheh and instead, headed to the tragedy scene. When I got there, they found another body. The situation was filled with so much sadness. Again, I just take a little clip.
Then, I went to see my little boy during breaktime and went back to the scene. This time, the family of one of the boy who was found yesterday were there doing some Taoist rite. Again, it is so heartbreaking because the saikong was blowing a horn (like a ship horn) and the family was calling the boy to ‘come home’. I didn’t film that. But I believe my veteran photographer friends all have that poignant shots in the papers.
After that, another body was found. As a parent, a bereaved mother and one whom had provided grief support to my friends who lost their teenage children, I can see many things that can be improved. Sadly, our society is still not very familiar with dealing with trauma.
One of the thing that made me most angry is why we can provide aircond, covered tent when we have some VIP or celebrity event. Yet, there is no consideration to the waiting, distraught parents feelings. They were place in an open tent and hence, people tend to stare and photographers tend to take photos as it is their duty to report.
The other thing is, in this digital age, the police should have asked for the photos of the missing youths immediately. I am sure with some phone calls and all, their friends would have a recent photo. Identify them before getting the all parents to identify the bodies as they were brought up. I cannot imagine the trauma the last parents felt after viewing four other bodies. Each time a boat arrived, the fathers will rushed to the boat.
We, as a society, need to seriously take proactive steps to note all these details. We will and we can face bigger tragedies. We must be prepared and be better organised. Having said that, I also feel touched with the caring nature of the authorities like the police, fire and rescue and even politicians.
Everyone knows I am not a fan of the Tourism Exco, Danny Law. But he is a man who is in the thick of action. I have never seen a man cried as many times as him. Our CM is probably the man with the heaviest responsibility to shoulder. Angry parents, desperate parents, distraught parents clamoured to seek his help. But what can he offer other than crying along with them? The authorities are doing the best but the waiting was agonising to those parents (before their sons were found).
I believe he will carry out an inquiry because there are many questions left unanswered still. It is not finger pointing but as a parent, I don’t want to see a repeat of this because we had lived in a society where if nothing happens, no one cares.