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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 Foong Li Mei

Cleaning up continues

The massive spillage of Bersih 2.0 marchers onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9 wasn’t spilt milk after all. Four months later, the election watchdog is making some headway.

The Auditor-General has cleared the path for the use of indelible ink to curb multiple voting – which was one of  Bersih’s  eight demands. Apparently only a minor change in electoral rules is needed, which “can be done anytime”.

On another  two  Bersih demands – automatic voter registration and allowing Malaysians abroad to vote – the A-G  said that a constitutional amendment is necessary for the former, while the latter is attracting debate. MCA believes Malaysians living abroad have lost touch with the country, but Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin believes that every Malaysian is entitled to their democratic rights.

The air is crackling with impending election vibes, with more electricity provided by a PKR poll showing prime minister Najib as more popular than opposition leader Anwar. Another poll by International Islamic University also recorded a rise in Najib’s popularity, while the ratings of Anwar, Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng fell.

But another force is entering the picture, one that we all grew up learning to fear – senior citizens with little tolerance for any mess.

“Aunty Bersih” Annie Ooi, the 65-year-old retired school teacher dubbed the “Malaysian Lady of Liberty” and Rosni Malan, the 55-year old widow denied an inquest into her husband Baharudin Ahmad’s death during the Bersih rally have teamed up to launch a petition to the Yang diPertuan Agung, requesting that the Ruler invoke his constitutional powers to ensure electoral reforms precede the polls.

Frail-looking but firm “Aunty Bersih” also boldly stood up against the parliamentary select committee (PSC), stunning the nine-man panel.

Cowed by public criticism?

PKR has dug out more dirt on the “beef valley” project producing beef that is more expensive than Wagyu.

PKR says the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) has been feeding, alright – but into questionable mouths. It alleged that hefty donations of cattle were made to two ministers, and sizable funds were used to pay for the expenses of Women, Family and Community Development minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat, whose family runs the cattle business.

Earlier, the NFC came under fire when it was revealed that funds from its loan to sister company National Livestock and Meats Corporation (NLMC) had been used to purchase a RM9.8 million condominium. Khairy Jamaludin defended the purchase, extolling it as a strategic move by the corporation to offset the cost of NFC production delays. PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli dismissed Khairy’s explanation as “crazy“.

Calls have been made for Shahrizat to resign. However,deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyidin defended her, saying that she need not quit as she is not directly involved in the running of the NFC. It is her family who should answer for the cattle scandal, not her.

Creaming each other over KR1M

After revealing that some KR1M goods were more expensive than their equivalents in hypermarkets, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua now alleges that fresh milk sold at KR1M is  E Coli tainted, and that its Growing Up milk powder has over eight times the legal limit of Vitamin A. He also claimed that other 1Malaysia products were “inferior in quality“.

Ameer Ali Mydin, director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Berhad, the operator of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M), dismissed Pua’s allegations as unfounded and “half true”.

Nonetheless, a lab test discovered excessive mercury and lead in KR1M chilli sauce, according to Malaysian Association of Standards Users.

But it’s business as usual at KR1M. Regulars of the thrift store shrugged off the controversies and continued to shop there.

REFSA believes KRIM is a flawed solution to help the poor. Tax money is pumped into a store that is open to all and sundry, whether rich or poor. Isn’t it better to target the funds at those in dire need of aid? Along the way, one retailer is handed an unfair edge that is crippling other small and already struggling local businesses, which do not have the benefit of government handouts.


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...