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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.”

Why is our government so keen on being Australia’s dumping ground?

First it was the refugee swap arrangement with Australia. Now we have the prospect of radioactive waste in our backyard. Kuantan residents and MP Fuziah Salleh and Malaysian environmentalists are alarmed that this will happen with Australia’s Lynas Corp’s proposed rare earth processing plant in Pahang.

Rare earth metals are integral to the production of smart phones and hybrid cars. The Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board has already granted Lynas a temporary operating licence. So Lynas can now operate, even before it has presented a detailed plan on how it will dispose of the radioactive waste. The temporary licence gives Lynas 10 months to do so.

REFSA wonders what will happen if Lynas fails to deliver the plan. The Australian government has already declared it will not accept any waste produced by Lynas. The company has downplayed radiation fears but we wonder at the rush.

10 months wait is nothing compared to the lifespan of radioactive waste which spans thousands of years. Why can’t the government and Lynas wait until all plans are concrete and properly vetted? Why the rush to create a potential radioactive waste time bomb?

Like waving a red flag in front of a bull

Another ‘fight’ involves colour or the lack of it. Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali took the expression ‘colour blind’ a little too literally recently. The infamous Perkasa leader gave out white packets of money instead of the traditional red at his Chinese New Year open house. Most Malaysians know this is a big no-no. White packets of money are given only at funerals.

This latest debacle has finally moved BN component parties away from their deafening silence towards his many controversial antics. PM Najib has distanced himself, Gerakan vice-president Datuk Mah Siew Keong called him insensitive and insincere, while MCA Youth secretary-general Chai Kim Sen said the gesture was ‘disrespectful’. A pity that there are people, leaders no less, who know so little and care even less for the sensitivities of other cultures.

Red packets would have saved Ibrahim Ali being red in the face.

Don’t take our land

A cry for justice in Sabah is finally heard. Many cases involving native land rights have never been resolved; some have been pending more than five years. To rub salt into wound, crooked courts purportedly give foreigners ‘native status’ which enabled them to buy land titles that rightly belong to natives. Now, in a bold and unprecedented move, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum suggests that the authorities set up a land tribunal to hear native land-related cases, and do right by the natives. Members of the tribunal must be independently appointed and be well versed in the ‘adat and culture’ of the land.

1 Care scheme: proceed with care

If the many unresolved issues are keeping us on tenterhooks, here’s something that may give us palpitations. The new 1Care healthcare scheme initiated by the Health Ministry is getting people all riled up. Apparently Malaysians will have to contribute 10 per cent of their monthly income to this scheme, which includes many unfavourable conditions. Like an overdose of medicine, this scheme looks ‘detrimental’ to health. A group of concerned Malaysians have set up the Citizens Healthcare Coalition (CHC) and launched a #taknak1care campaign through social media.

The Ministry has defended the scheme, saying it is still at a conceptual stage. Nevertheless, we wonder why so little thought went into developing this concept. It was the same with the Public Service Remuneration Scheme (SBPA) which is now under review because of the many discrepancies. Here’s a thought – if we get the right people to do the job, we may get things right from the start. Then there won’t be this entire hullabaloo.

Keeping wealth well hidden

So many calls for BN party members to declare their assets, yet they have gone unanswered. The latest came from Tan Sri Datuk Robert Phang, once a member of the MACC advisory panel, who came out with all guns blazing, condemning BN’s non-compliance. Having something to hide makes one afraid, according to him. His condemnation lends credence to DAP’s publicity chief, Tony Pua who made no bones about denouncing the astronomical profits of BN’s ‘corrupt leaders and politically-connected cronies’ made through unfair policies and economic mismanagement.

No more excuses, no more hiding; the BN government must not put this off any longer. Unless of course, it fears opening a whole new can of worms.


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...