Today I saw the New Straits Times featured the nominees of the Pingat Hang Tuah on its front page. Pingat Hang Tuah is an accolade bestowed upon a kid that has displayed an act of sheer bravery. Hang Tuah features prominently in the Malay legend as the most unselfish warrior of Malacca of the past — too unselfish for my taste, in fact, but that would be a different story. I did not realize that Pingat Hang Tuah has only now been revived after it was cancelled for some 20 odd years. No wonder the last time I could recall hearing about this Pingat was during my childhood days. While Hang Tuah was my hero then, I did not harbour the desire of ever getting it, let alone becoming one of the nominees, because I was not really a brave kid.
I think it is about time the kids of our time being taken seriously. However, if you were to read what these 8 kids have done to be nominated, you could not help but notice that all of their stories involved kids and water. Invariably, they involved a kid trying to save their friends or siblings from drowning. In fact, three of the nominees drowned trying to save someone. I have no problem saluting these kids for their bravery. But as a parent of two lovely kids, I could not help but think that we have not done enough to teach our kids the danger of water and, more importantly in my view, the need for self-preservation. What is worse, I, as a parent, do not even know how to swim. I was the product of the same culture like these kids and, in this respect, we have not improved much after all this time.
Another question that I have in my mind is whether I would want my children to become heroes when the situation demands it. I would prefer self-preservation because being heroes is risky business. But then, would I want a hero to be around when my kid’s life is in danger? I think everybody knows the answer to that question.
Later today, I learned that the Pingat went to Muhammad Firdaus Haris from Gombak who saved a 4 year old unknown to him who had slipped from the kiddy pool into the adult pool. I believe he really deserved it for that unselfish act. But the rest of the nominated kids are no less a hero in my eyes.