RECENTLY a young, white, British male on trial at the Old Bailey in London for child sex offences was found guilty on 71 counts of child molestation.
Its significance to Malaysia? It all happened here with victims ranging from 6 months to 12 years old. This diabolical predator used the church to access victims from poor communities and would not have stopped if he was not, too, a prolific contributor to a paedophile site on the “dark web”, which caught the attention of the Australian police. They notified the British authorities, who arrested the man, Richard Huckle, at the airport on his way home for Christmas. Were it not for a twist of fate, this paedophile would still be preying on young Malaysians having arrived as an expat teacher and photographer in 2006 in his late teens.
Prior to this story breaking, the fear was of paedophilic predators from abroad using the Internet to seduce young Malaysian girls. And, few would have forgotten the case of the Malaysian student, a paedophile, apprehended by the police in London, charged and imprisoned, but now home. To further make murky waters that are well polluted is the controversy over child marriages in many parts of the world, including Malaysia and Indonesia. Furthermore, what is there not to be afraid of when in countries considered civilised there are some groups looking to blur the legal lines of decency, urging a lowering of the age of consent.
At least 20 countries have sex offender registers, among them Britain, Australia, Ireland and the United States, but as long as their whereabouts are known to the police, there are no travel restrictions imposed on these convicted paedophiles. And by all accounts, too, countries are not too keen to trouble themselves about this potential menace even when alerted to their presence. Additionally, that in 2014 the Interpol Green Notice for tracking paedophiles was compromised after the Snowden whistle-blowing incident — because countries were afraid for the privacy of their citizens — is indication enough that for some, securing individual privacy overrules the need to keep children safe. But the British man convicted for the travesty of molesting little children, including babies and toddlers, did not have a previous conviction.
As far as Malaysia is concerned, it faces a dilemma, involving the entry and exit points in the nation. The authorities said the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) was compromised by some of its own officers, ongoing since 2010. How many paedophiles are within our midst as a result is anyone’s guess. Obviously, with regard to foreigner paedophiles, the first objective is to eliminate corruption. Only then can Malaysians be assured of living in a secure, no leaks “fish bowl”. For, the Immigration Department is to the country like the Dutch dykes are to Holland; one breach and everything collapses.