“New warden message warns ‘terrorists in final stages of planning of attacks.’ Updates will follow.”
An SMS I received two days ago. I had seen the full warden message online myself, being subscribed to an online newsgroup. I didn’t think much of it because there seemed to be one every month. But this time it is different. The US Embassy will not actually open for two days, signally the potential seriousness of the threat.
A neighbour told me that she had received an sms saying that there has been a shoot out at the road nearby. It’s a long road and I had no way of knowing if the shoot out occurred near our residence.
I told my him about the sms, the warden message I read earlier, and the rumour from the neighbour. It had somehow slipped my mind. And I could see him ruminating. What’s on your mind? I asked him.
I am thinking of sending you home. Where it is much safer.
I was touched, but I don’t think I want to go. Where are we safe now in this world? If its our time to go, we will go, no matter where we will be, I told him.
He kept quiet.
Since I have been here, there had been an attack on a Western compound, a kidnapping and two shootings. I fear that soon I might lose count. Of course there are some who turn their noses down on these incidents. Many more are killed in the streets in the US and more still due to the crime in London, I was told.
Perhaps so. But here, the threat seems real to me.
A Malaysian lady who has been here for 4 years shared the story of how her compound was bombed. It was just before the impeding attack on Iraq. Her family had pleaded for her to come home but she wanted to remain here with her husband. One night, as usual, they lay in bed. And they were awakened by a loud bang. They looked up and they can see the sky. The husband did not realise that they had just been attacked. He thought that the stove had caught on fire. He went to the kitchen to realise that nothing was where it was before he went to bed.
They got dressed, went downstairs and saw that the car has been smashed. Some of their neighbours were drenched in blood. And the houses just in front of them had been destroyed. That household had two young children. She didn’t think they survived the blast.
Ironically, the compound housed not just Westerners but many Arab/Muslim expatriates as well. And many of the casualties were Muslims themselves. Did those who perpetrated the acts actually cared?
The lady and her husband are still here. However, she refused to live in a compound. They now live in a private apartment in downtown. Hopefully reducing the risks of potential attacks which Western compounds seem to have.
Perhaps many of you wonder, why are we still here? Why don’t we just return to Malaysia to work?
No pain, no gain a saying goes. To be able to enjoy some extra perks, one sometimes have to sacrifice some things in life, like proximity to family and familiar environments. In this case, the possibility of compromising some personal safety.
As it is 30% of the Western expatriates have gone home. So much so that the local companies are now recruiting more expatriates from Asia and the middle east. The face of the expatriate community is quickly changing.
Well one of the main factors why we came here is because of the attractiveness of the package. Salaries here are much higher than salaries offered in Malaysia. And tax free too. The other bonus point, the proximity to Makkah and Madinah. But of course, it is still a long drive and we don’t really get to go as often as we want to. But its an attraction nonetheless.
Of course this created some resentment on the locals. Afterall, there is a high percentage of unemployment. But we came here on invitation, because they wanted the skills, the knowledge and the experiences that we had. Somebody had to have the job done.
If anything it makes me realize how important a good national education is for a country. More importantly, good education is available to all levels of society, not just those in the cities but those in the rural areas as well. Makes me appreciate the steps taken by our governments to improve the quality of the education in our home countries better.
Through good, quality education, our youngsters will have the knowledge and the opportunity to be self sufficient in the future.
And hopefully they will have more to occupy themselves with, rather than blaming on the foreigners and involving themselves in terrorist acts.