There has to be an urgent improvement in the National Urgent Response Alert (NUR Alert) to make it more accessible when it comes to finding missing children.
This is to ensure that the alert is sent out fast, and has the widest outreach to hasten the investigation process and increase the chances of missing children being rescued.
This is in view of the latest missing child report involving a 4-year-old boy who has not been seen since he went missing on March 7, 2022, from his house in Taman Riverview, Bintawa.
This is a serious matter, and I am disappointed that awareness about the missing child is not widespread, even among the residents of that area.
The NUR Alert can supposedly spread information quickly through SMS or MMS to help trace missing children (below 12 years of age), who could be victims of crime or abuse.
When it comes to missing children, time is of the essence, and a widespread alert is important to increase chances of the child to be found quickly.
It will also enable law enforcement agencies to carry out their investigations more efficiently.
Such an alert is also important to inform the public, which is the best mechanism to limit the movements of any abductors, and even deter anyone from planning any abductions.
However, the accessibility of the Nur Alert is very limited. For this case, I have double checked with people who live in the area, and they told me that they have not received any such alert.
Based on the announcement by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), cellular users must first go through official procedures and choose to accept the NUR Alert announcement before it is sent out.
This will create all kinds of barriers and limits the outreach of this alert, which is the most important factor for it to be effective.
Instead, we receive all kinds of unnecessary SMS messages from the the National Security Council (MKN), especially during the pandemic, with some even promoting Keluarga Malaysia events.
When it comes to saving children’s lives, they create barriers, but when it comes to government propaganda and unnecessary SMS messages, they will send without our consent.
That is why there must be a significant improvement to the NUR alert system. We cannot just rely on enforcement officers sticking photocopied missing person posters at public places.
First and foremost, there must be a single platform where all important information can be accessed directly, not just by different enforcement agencies, but also by shopping malls, banks, elected representatives’ office, cinemas, and the public.
Any obstacles in obtaining such alerts, especially all kinds of confusing consent procedures, should be removed.
Once such information is obtained, it can be transmitted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Whatsapp, and even sent via SMS or MMS to residents in that area.
For example, malls can show it on their digital noticeboards, or banks can show it on ATM screens for a few seconds before customers perform their transactions. There are many ways to spread the message in an effective manner.
A dedicated platform should also be created, where the public can inform the authorities if they happen to see the missing child.
This will speed up the reporting and the investigation processes, thereby increasing the chances of the child to be found.
I strongly believe that the public will be understanding, and be receptive to receiving such an alert on their phones, rather than all kinds of unnecessary spam and government propaganda.
This is why the NUR Alert system must be significantly improved, as every second counts when it comes to saving a child’s life.
Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.