Sunday, April 15, 2007

Social Deviance and the Mat Rempits

Social Deviance & The Mat Rempits

By Joe Chelliah D.N.S, A.N.S., P.J.K.

If Chin Peng’s band of communists attacked our police stations in the early Malayan years while other social deviants with deranged minds did about the same in the 1980’s to the Batu Pahat police station, it now appears that the Mat Rempits (illegal racers) have taken over such disruptive behaviour and acts that include rape and robbery. Apa dah jadi? Where have we gone wrong. The education policy perhaps or the NEP as almost 100% of Mat Rempits are Malays.

I am not a sociologist but dare to suggest that the root(s) of the problem may be a sociological one that must be investigated. Merely taking punitive measures against them is not going to help in any significant way to eradicate this national menace. I believe that one of the main reasons for such Mat Rempit behaviour is caused by a lack of attention beginning in the home itself and augmented by poor academic performance later in their school years.

Parents just need to be supportive and involved in their children’s lives. Parents are seldom there for those who do not shine academically. Such children then become potential Mat Motor, Mat Rempits, Bohsiahs and what not. I hope our sociologists will investigate this sort of juvenile delinquency further with case studies and others forms of research procedures. At the risk of over simplification, I dare suggest that a Mat Rempit is a person:

  1. With very high psycho-motor intelligence and skills – like those possessed by a gymnast or sportsman without which one cannot execute any Mat Rempit stunt. This type of intelligence is one of the many that an individual possesses according to Harvard psychologist and educational theorist, Howard Gardner. It must have gone unnoticed or unrewarded in the school years.
  2. Who could have excelled in other areas of human endeavor such as the arts but not the sciences or mathematics and therefore again went unrecognized or rewarded in a societal environment that only glorifies those who do well in science and math.
  3. Who has developed a low self esteem which is then given a temporary boost by peers through the weekend illegal racing activity.
  4. Whose low monthly income level (if any) only permits him to “freak out” with just a tank full of petrol on weekends and other nights.

Parents need to be supportive of all their children irrespective of their academic prowess. Not everyone is gifted in all areas of human intelligence. The child’s self esteem must be developed in a positive way from early childhood itself. Trying to do it later in his/her life may not be the correct time because by then, the damage would already have been done.

Knee jerk reactions and expressions of surprise by Malaysians then fill the newspaper headlines for a few days. The usual Malaysian public outcry comes complete with typical fire-fighting type of solutions such as “torch the guys”, “cane them” or “confiscate their motor bikes or “jail them”. Newspaper reports and the news bulletins then play up the matter and interview roadside laypersons for their views for a couple of days. The fever and fervor then subsides until another similar incident recurs.

However, the silence – both verbal and written – from our country’s community of sociologists populating our numerous universities is at best deafening. It is they who should be foremost in researching for the underlying causes for such social deviance. Instead of lamenting the fact that our universities are dropping in world ranking list it is definitely better to research and more importantly publish their findings on the increasing forms of social deviance amongst Malaysian youth and suggest solutions to the government. This ia surer way to earn better ratings for their university.

Research could start with why most of the current crop of youth show an utter lack of respect for almost any form of authority (parents, teachers, schools, elders, JPJ and now even the police) with a pronounced unwillingness to conform or be taught/ disciplined/advised. What is it that makes them develop this attitude and approach to life?

At the risk of over-simplification again, I believe that the real problem could be more deeply rooted in the education system itself which has a clear over-emphasis on the sciences at the expense of the arts for more than thirty years or so. This dichotomy first started in 1958 itself when the writer himself was placed in Form IV Science. This over-emphasis on the sciences may have created a significant number of disgruntled youth who could have excelled in other areas of human endeavor where their talents and intelligence really lie. Unrewarded and unrecognized talent is a prime mover and motivator for socially deviant behavior. For example, a typical Mat Rempit could have been very talented in the arts but it went unrecognized or unnoticed leading to very low self-esteem that then manifests itself in such acts of socially disruptive behavior patterns.

Each individual must be exposed to and allowed to interact in as many varied areas of human endeavour as possible that are neither entirely too academic nor too similar in nature at school. An equal emphasis with meaningful exposure to all types of sports and the arts must also be done from an early age itself so that the individual develops a healthy and balanced relationship with them all his/her life.

A broader spectrum of education and educational activities in the schools is what the young may need. Achieving academic results by merely regurgitating facts in parrot fashion is not what constitutes good education. It has been said that a child who learns most is the one who asks the most questions and not the one who answers the most questions. We simply cannot go on ignoring the social downslide and the many instances of social deviance among our youth that are making the news almost daily.