With two high-profile kidnapping cases along with perception of high crime rate, the Malaysian authority is advocating mass installation of closed circuit TV to fight crime. Advocates of CCTVs are convinced that the device will help in bringing crime rate down. While that may be so — there are debates on whether presence of CCTVs reduces or merely displaces crime — I am not too keen on the plan. Given authority’s reputation in disrespecting individual liberty, I fear that the authority will misuse the cameras installed in public spaces for other purposes.

I would imagine that self-proclaimed moral police would be the first to celebrate mass installation of CCTVs. With it, they could more effectively enforce their moral standard on others. No more would the moral police as well as vigilantes need to make rounds to catch those that reject certain moral standard. It happened before and it will happen again if the plan to install CCTVs in public face goes through.

With CCTVs sprouting like mushrooms after the rain, gone would be the days when one could sit on the bench alone to savor the evening. Deep in one’s heart, there is knowledge that somebody is watching him diligently, trying to catch the smallest of mistakes in the name of some questionable order.

The religious right would like to believe that god watches each one of us. It maybe absurd but with CCTVs everywhere, that would not be too absurd at all anymore. God is now equipped with cameras and lots of them. God now is omnipresent, wherever CCTV is available.

God is a dictator and mortal dictators love to be gods. These gods employ dogs to do their biddings and this has been true for the longest time. Gods want to know everything that private citizens do for they are jealous. While it was hard to do so in the past, cameras CCTV cameras lift godly burden off the gods.

Unchecked conflict of interest occurs widely in our government. We have seen how public fund is being used to tighten the incumbents’ grip on power without the slightest of shame. Extrapolating that trend, it is not at all too remote for the government to misuse the CCTVs for purposes other than fighting crime like theft or murder. The facilities could be use to fight “crime” such as practicing liberty.

From a terminal connected to a wide network of CCTVs, the state would be able to keep an eye anybody for whatever reasons, be it a tyrant scheming to force all into obedience or simply peeping-tom the dog running his own errands while the gods sleep soundly in their thrones far abovenaway from the wretched earth.

But surely, they would not do that. CCTVs are for fighting crime!

And maybe my liberty should be sacrifice for Sharlinie and in honor of Nurin. How selfish of me to not to sacrifice my liberty for the two children. Never mind that the parents made mistakes that cost them their children. Never mind that a lot more parents never learn from that mistakes and when somebody points out that they need to change, they fiercely bark back at that somebody. Never mind that. Forgive me. It is now the responsibility of the police, the state, to keep children safe, not parents anymore. Forgive me to not noticing that changing zeitgeist. I suppose personal responsibility is outdated.

Maybe we need the CCTVs after all. Maybe, we need the gods to install those CCTVs in our bedroom to protect us from the monsters that lurk under our beds, outside our windows at night. We need to be assured that somebody is watching us, keeping us safe all the time so that we could sleep well at night, away from the boogeyman.

Or maybe just for those whom are too scared to have personal responsibility.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

A version of this article was first published at Bolehland.

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