Sandra Rajoo brings to you another edition of REFSA Rojak, a weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia by Research for Social Advancement (REFSA).
REFSA Rojak – “trawl the newsflow, cut to the core and focus on the really pertinent. Full of flavour, lots of crunch, this is the concise snapshot to help Malaysians keep abreast of the issues of the day.”
Times are changing and Malaysia is transforming, judging from the different manifestations of nationalistic behaviour during the recent Merdeka celebrations. At Dataran Merdeka, on the eve of National Day, thousands turned up dressed in Bersih yellow. National laureate Datuk Samad Said recited his poem Janji Demokrasi which also formed the Merdeka theme for this gathering. For his creativity, he is now wanted for questioning by the police.
Elsewhere, the government’s grand celebration at the Bukit Jalil stadium on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur was marred by accusations that attendance was by invitation only. Here, the Janji Ditepati theme which had been mired in controversy in the run-up to Merdeka captured the imagination of the BN politicians who came out in full force.
Over in the UK, Umno veteran Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah traced the history of our nation from its glory days decades ago to a country now plundered. His words were hard-hitting and a grim reminder of the “transformation we need desperately” given that “the immense wealth generated by our productive people and our vast resources has been looted”. Eloquent words indeed, but empty rhetoric if not followed by actions.
Prompt police action - sometimes
At a time when pride over our independence should take centre stage, displays of anger and aggression in public make headlines instead. The latest hot topic is of picture-stepping, flag-hoisting and flashing of buttocks at pictures of PM Dato’ Sri Najib and his wife during the recent Independence Day celebration at Dataran Merdeka.
Police jumped quickly into action. Photos of the 11 perpetrators were flashed in the media and some were quickly arrested. The swiftness of action taken by the police is admirable. Yet it smacks of a disturbing selective treatment of suspects. The police have been absolutely tardy when similar acts were perpetrated against members of Pakatan Rakyat and NGOs.
Earlier this year, uncivil Malaysians held an ‘exhibition’ of butts for Datuk Ambiga and ‘funeral rites’ for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Pakatan leaders Anwar Ibrahim, Khalid Ibrahim and Lim Guan Eng have all received ‘footprints on their faces’, and uncouth Malaysians had even urinated on pictures of PAS’ Nik Aziz and Abdul Hadi. And in Kelantan, a bus belonging to PKR was vandalised and the bus driver almost hit by a brick thrown by thugs.
Is political affiliation a criterion for the police to consider before taking action?
All that glitters is not gold
‘Gold fever’ holds a completely negative meaning for Bukit Koman residents. The mining of gold by Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM), set up in 2009, has adversely affected their health. Residents within a 2km radius of the plant have been afflicted with “skin rashes, red and watery eyes, throat irritation, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, dizziness” apparently due to cyanide poisoning. The company was accused of using hazardous chemicals – including 400 tons of sodium cyanide every year – carelessly, and putting lives at risk. Its waste disposal treatment was said to have caused “metal-cyanide contamination” which will remain in rivers and underground water for a very long time.
Himpunan Hijau Raub organised a peaceful protest against RAGM in the Bukit Koman village on Sept 2 to protest the use of cyanide, and to demand that the company act more responsibly and adhere to international safety standards.
Selangor did the right thing with Talam, says KPMG
MCA’s Chua Tee Yong didn’t exactly step on Selangor MB Khalid’s ‘face’ but he might as well have when he accused the state government of underhanded dealings in Talam (now Trinity) Corporation. Independent auditors KPMG disagreed with Chua, calling the Selangor government’s RM392 million debt recovery exercise a “sound commercial decision”.
Now that the state government’s actions are established as “legal, ethical” and above board, and Chua’s accusations of irregularities have fallen flat, will the young Chua make a gracious retreat? Only time will tell. Some people have something to prove, even with egg on their faces.
Why ‘Rojak’? Disparate flavours and textures come together in a harmonious mix to make this delicious but underrated concoction. Our Rojak weekly is much like this mix, making sense of the noise of daily newsflow and politicking.
It is also our ultimate dream that our multi-ethnic melange of communities can be made richer within the unique ‘sauce’ that is Malaysia. Let’s take pride in the ‘rojakness’ of our nation!