People calling for justice during the funeral of T. Nhaveen at the crematorium in George Town on Friday. Pic by RAMDZAN MASIAM

AS I write this, my heart is breaking just like millions of others who have read about the recent torture and murders of navy cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain and student T. Nhaveen.

Within a span of a few weeks, we have had brutal assaults and subsequent deaths of two young boys with bright futures. Who are the ones to be blamed for these tragic deaths?

It’s the teenagers and young adults who are simply regarded as bullies.

Zulfarhan was still a third-year student at the National Defence University of Malaysia, when he was sadistically assaulted by other students who accused him of stealing a laptop.

The poor boy was tortured for hours with a steam iron and suffered second- and third-degree burns on 80 per cent of his body, including his private parts, in an apartment in Bangi, Selangor.

He was then rushed to Serdang Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Nhaveen was a teenager waiting to start college in Kuala Lumpur when he and his friend were attacked by a group of boys, who used to bully them in school.

In the incident, which took place in Gelugor, Penang, his friend, T. Previin, managed to run away, but Nhaveen was taken to a field and tortured by five boys aged between 16 and 18.

He was sexually assaulted and had burns on his back, in addition to being beaten up to a pulp — all because the assailants thought he wasn’t “man enough”.

On arrival at the hospital, he was declared brain dead and died after six days.

These deaths should not have happened.

These incidents should not have taken place.

These inhumane acts should not have occurred.

As much as it is painful to read about, we need to start questioning what lies behind these senseless killings.

The assailants were all youngsters, who are supposed to be focusing on their studies and caring for their parents.

How did they get involved in such cruel and violent acts that make hardened criminals look petty?

All of them had one thing in common: they were all bullies who turned into murderers.

I blame it entirely on their upbringing and mentality. You see, no child is born evil. It is how the child is brought up that makes him or her good or evil.

It’s simple logic, really.

If you feed a child sweets and chocolates all the time, there’s almost a definite certainty that he/she will end up with diabetes someday. If you feed a child healthy food, there’s just an equal amount of assurance on he/she having a healthy life.

In that same sense, if a child is fed with violence and taught that brute force is the solution to all problems, he/she will most definitely grow up believing just that, and these are the same children who will become bullies.

They start small in school, where in most cases, they are not punished for their actions.

As they grow up, they become bolder and it’s a whole new level of bullying when they start torturing and murdering people for fun.

My question is what were the parents doing when they were bringing up these monsters?

What went wrong that these children end up turning into monsters even before reaching adulthood?

I was brought up to respect others around me, and not to resort to violence under any circumstances because it never is, and never will, be a solution.

Weren’t these boys taught the same? Or was it all about “being a man” and the need to bully and hit others to prove their masculinity?

I’ve heard many of my schoolmates and students who use that same line in various languages, where it’s all about having to use physical violence to show how much of a “real man” a person is.

Let me tell you something. Being a real man is not about possessing the ability to beat up and kick someone. It’s about having respect for others who may be different from you, and being able to coexist harmoniously.

The writer, a lecturer at Sunway College, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scottish/Japanese/
Indian lineage. She believes in a tomorrow where there is no existence of racism and hatred

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