Monday, January 30, 2012

All a-Twitter over hostage girl

One Man's Meat


In quiet KL, tweets went flying in Twitterjaya as a hostage drama unfolded when a naked man grabbed a 10-year-old girl from her family home in Kampung Baru.

HOSTAGE drama at Kampung Baru in KL. Mentally ill man has threatened to kill 10-year-old girl.

That was what I tweeted at 1pm on Monday while stabbing into a medium tenderloin steak at Cafe Barbera in Bangsar.

It was the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Water Dragon and I was at the cafe to check whether it was suitable for a tweetup (an organised or impromptu gathering of people who use Twitter).

I was doing a favour for Twitter sensation @tankengliang (Tan Keng Liang, Kedah Gera­kan Youth chief) who was organising a tweetup on Feb 25.

“KL is so dead,” I thought as the only patron in Cafe Barbera was me.

Then my colleague Austin Cameons SMS-ed about an ongoing hostage drama.

I drove to Kampung Baru, a Malay enclave in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the scene of the crime was to take photographs with my Nokia N8 so that I can tweet them.

Fifi Ramadani was held at knife-point in a single-story wooden house with the Petronas Twin Towers in the backdrop. In front of the house were two ambulances, paramedics and policemen (in uniform and “mufti” – slang for civilian attire) who were watched by members of the media and curious onlookers.

Austin interviewed the girl’s 47-year-old father, Shafrudin Marlis, a one-legged Indonesian with Malaysian PR.

“The man, his wife and three children were watching television at about 11am, when a naked man stormed into their home,” he briefed me.

“The man, who might be mentally ill, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and in a matter of seconds took the girl and threatened to kill her if the family approached him.”

At 1.32pm, I tweeted: “Kg Baru hostage drama: Looks like police ready to neutralise mentally ill man who threatened to kill 10-year-old girl. Ambulance waiting.”

Nothing happened.

At 2.06pm, I tweeted: “Waiting game at hostage drama at Kg Baru.”

2.29pm: “Heard at hostage drama scene. Baik juga polis ni. Tak tembak-tembak (The police are being very nice. They have not shot the hostage-taker)”.

In terms of police action, the only thing exciting, which I tweeted, was “Kg Baru hostage drama: Police have sent in 4 packets of iced tea.”

3.04pm: “If this was a movie, Bruce Willis would have saved the day by now. 5 hours long hostage drama.”

3.06pm: “Looks like a female hostage negotiator has arrived at hostage scene. And she ain’t no Jodie Foster.”

3.13pm: “A doctor in white uniform just arrived to give psychiatric help to hostage taker.”

By then my tweets on the hostage drama had generated interest in TwitterJaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twittersphere).

@JohariTeh tweeted: “Society should have seen this (coming). Why let such unstable person roam the streets. Could have been anyone’s child. Learn, man, learn.”

Twitterers were asking for updates. My answers were: “ongoing”, “very calm here” and “still negotiating”.

I received some tweets that cracked me up. For example, @saroki19: “Got female hostage negotiator, send in nasi lemak with sedative.”

And those on TwitterJaya discovered that a real life hostage drama was so unlike that in Hollywood.

@abamjoni tweeted: “Jack Bauer needs 24 hours” in response to SidneyNg: @aliamaricar’s “Bruce Willis/Keanu Reaves would have settled it in 2 hours tops.”

@maketab: “Hancock would also save the day in a few seconds.:-)”

At 3.32pm, in reply to @hajarshamsudin who tweeted: “Will the police just shoot the guy. I can’t stand the thought of the girl harmed! It’s almost 5 hours already!”, I wrote: “I don’t think police will shoot him.”

3.38pm: “Looks like something will happen. We’ve been kicked to yellow line.”

3.46pm: “A woman arrived at the scene. Probably connected to naked hostage taker.”

3.47pm: “No sniper. Not necessary” in reply to @throngz’s query, “Is the sniper there yet?”

4pm: “The official language at hostage scene in kg baru is Indonesian. I hear murmurs of Javanese or Bugis.”

Many people retweeted it. Some even politicised it.

4.08pm: Gun shots.

At 4.09pm, my hands shaking, I tweeted: “Three gun shots and girl rushed out.”

4.11pm: “Frenzy at scene. But girl whisked away in ambulance.”

4.14pm: “Crowd in hostage scene cheers police effort. It is all over.”

4.16pm: “Four shots fired and hostage taker is believed to be alive. He was rushed away in an ambulance.”

Austin reported a police spokesman as saying: “All our attempts failed. We then had to shoot the suspect after he became more aggressive. We fired four shots, which hit him in the rib area.”

At 8pm, @staronline tweeted: “Hostage drama: The mentally ill man who held a 10-yr-old girl hostage and was shot by police has died in hospital.”