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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.”
Money makes money is something the rich are familiar with. Civil servants have just discovered it applies to them as well. The ‘windfall’ for civil servants under the newly proposed Public Service Remuneration Scheme (SBPA) falls into the laps of privileged groups who are already on big salaries. Those in the top tier – the ‘Premier Service’ category – will earn as much as RM80,000 per month! Not surprisingly, CUEPACS is strongly protesting as those in the lower rungs are already struggling to keep their heads above water. Wonder what those receiving this incredible remuneration are feeling? Will they think it’s their due or will they agree that such sums are obscene compared to the pittance their subordinates are getting?
All civil servants are equal but some are more equal than others.
Inequality and racism
Claims of inequality have also being raised on another platform – a forum that saw the attendance of speakers from the Human Rights party, academicians and concerned individuals. The contentious issue was Article 153 of the Constitution which establishes ‘quotas for entry into the civil service, public scholarships and public education’ to favour certain groups. The forum participants believe the said Article encourages ‘institutionalised racism’. Lawyer and academician Azmi Sharom from Universiti Malaya believes that people can question the implementation of Article 153 and that the subject should be debated openly.
Hindraf leader P. Waythamoorthy alleged that Article 153 was a brand of apartheid. Think South Africa at one time! The party has taken out a petition urging the government to repeal Article 153 and ‘dismantle all racist policies’. Equity is important in a country like Malaysia, and anything that smacks of racism should be condemned.
A different kind of discontent
Over in Sabah, signs of discontent are surfacing. United Borneo Front (UBF) President Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan did not mince words when he fired a salvo at Peninsular politicians. He took offence to Sabah being called a ‘fixed deposit’. The term is insulting and leaves a bad taste in the mouth; people are not numbers to help win votes, he asserts. Datuk Jeffrey is incensed that Sabahans remain poor despite the state’s abundant resources. Its people have been manipulated, fooled and cheated for the last 48 years, he says. He urged Sabahans to reclaim their rights and decide their own fate. Is a ‘Sabahan Spring’ in the making?
Suhakam inquiry: shocking revelations
Bersih chief Datuk S. Ambiga claimed that the police were trying to harm peaceful protestors in the Bersih 2.0 rally on 9 July last year. She revealed this during the Suhakam inquiry into police brutality at the rally. She also feared for her life in the run-up to the rally and alleged that PM Najib was guilty of endorsing the threats against her – she was labelled a threat to Islam and accused of being a front for foreign groups. Perkasa had burnt pictures of her, and Umno bloggers had even called for her to be raped.
Going round and round in circles
What’s the latest beef on the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal? Police and MACC are already investigating NFC but the government wants to appoint an accounting consultant firm to audit the project again. This is as good as saying the Auditor-General’s report is not convincing enough.
Also, calls for Datuk Shahrizat (whose family runs NFC) to resign are getting louder. If she succumbs to the pressure, she’ll probably drag down a few other Cabinet ministers with her. This will not augur well for BN. As it stands, financial discrepancies involving Datuk Seri Jamil Khir and Datuk Awang Adek are making the ruling party look bad.
Anything to declare?
We are used to hearing these words at airport customs but they may no longer be the prerogative of custom officers now that the declaration of assets by assemblymen has become the in thing. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and the Selangor government had declared their assets a few years back. Recently, Penang’s CM and his executive councilors started the ball rolling again with their open declaration. Now, the judiciary is about to do the same. Mindful citizens are waiting for PM Najib to do what’s right too. Will he? Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Aziz says ‘No’, as revealing assets may endanger ministers and their families. Amazing logic!
New Year greetings from REFSA
With Chinese New Year round the corner, and the water dragon swishing its tail in anticipation, REFSA would like to wish everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai! The going’s good apparently for those born in the year of the Pig, Goat, Ox and Snake. To the others, we say: “Where there’s life, there’s hope”!
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.
More on this topic when you check out the following articles:
(Featured image accompanying article on the main page courtesy of stu_spivack, source: www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/509433165/)