In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here.

Here, we bring you another edition of REFSA Rojak, a weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia by Research for Social Advancement. They “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.”

[Original REFSA Rojak issue here]

brought to you by Sandra Rajoo

Psst…it’s the ‘S’ word. 

No sex please, for some Malaysians. Seksualiti Merdeka’s annual festival to help the marginalised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community understand their legal rights was declared illegal.

Police, religious groups, as well as ministers are up in arms over this movement. Stop this ‘free sex’ festival, says mainstream media, in particular TV3.

Such misinformation. Duh! For their obtuseness and inability to differentiate between ‘free sex’ and ‘different sexual orientation’ they got a mouthful from Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir. Datuk S. Ambiga, of Bersih 2.0 fame and former Bar Council president, has no qualms suing TV3 for irresponsible reporting and ‘misleading’ the public. She was due to launch the event but was unceremoniously hauled up by the police for questioning.

“The movement is offensive; we are a moral and righteous society, …. “ are the mantras we hear. Hmm … morality and righteousness? Or hypocrisy? We recall a very public screening of a pornographic video at Carcosa Seri Negara not too long ago. Barely a whimper was heard from the authorities.

Criticism, condemnation, hostility are leveled at a marginalized and minority group.  “We hate you…because you are different” is the message conveyed. And this is from a society that claims to uphold human rights? It is therefore not surprising that Malaysia ranks only 96th out of 110 countries where ‘personal freedom’ is concerned, in think-tank Legatum’s Prosperity Index.

And moving away from sexual orientation …

A different kind of intolerance is brewing in ‘civil’ society.

The Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said that school grounds and institutes of higher learning were not suitable for the slaughtering of cows during Aidil Adha.

Three very vocal Muslim groups then issued a stern warning to MCCBCHST for highlighting a ‘trivial’ problem. Are they not aware the Hindus regard the cow as a sacred animal? Let’s have discussion rather than confrontation, and respect the Malaysia’s multiracial and multicultural student population.

Who’s getting the cream at KR1M?

REFSA was initially dismayed at the inception of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) stores supported by the government as a solution to help low income earners deal with the soaring cost of living. These stores were supposed to sell goods at up to 30 to 50% cheaper than elsewhere, which REFSA believes constitutes unfair competition against other retailers.

But wait a minute, DAP publicity chief Tony Pua and PKR MP Nurul Izzah went shopping and found that not all goods are cheap. In fact, some were downright exorbitant! Sardines cost RM2.49 at Carrefour but RM2.99 at KR1M, bleach available for RM1.29 at Tesco was sold for RM1.90 at KR1M.

It appears the solution has become a problem. REFSA is appalled that the poor are being shortchanged. Tony Pua wants the government taken to task for misleading the public. Notwithstanding that, the PM has ‘gallantly’ pledged RM40 million subsidies to KR1M to lower prices further. That’s like rubbing salt into wound.

Conclusion : A discerning consumer thou shalt be. Bad deals are everywhere – even in government-backed thrift stores.

Reforms first, elections second

Another rally in the works? Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) and Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) will not hesitate to stage one should the 13th general election be held before electoral reforms are completed. Keep your word, Datuk Seri Najib, they warned.

The PM had promised to initiate reforms in the aftermath of the Bersih 2.0 rally. A parliamentary select committee (PSC) was set up and given six months to complete the task.

Won the battle, not the war

No rally held here, but PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) and NGOs who fought to reinstate PPSMI (teaching of Maths and Science in English) tasted success. Kudos! The Minister of Education finally came out of the tunnel and saw the light. All current batches will continue with PPSMI until Form 5. But the fight is not over – PAGE wants the option to be given to 2011 Year One pupils who started studying the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia this year. It’s best to heed the call, MOE. No more tunnel vision please, we are Malaysians.


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!

Click here for previous issues of REFSA Rojak.

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REFSA is an independent, not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable information on social, economic and political issues affecting Malaysians with the aim of promoting open and constructive...