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.

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.”

Punched, poked or a wee prod?

An interesting week indeed – two assault allegations, neither of which is an open-and-shut case. The first was Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong’s proclamation that he was almost punched at the United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong) rally in Kajang. However, an eyewitness said no punch was thrown and video footage did not show any blow landing on Wee.

He was indeed jeered and booed by the 5000-strong crowd the moment he stepped into the rally premises with about ten armed police personnel, and an an overzealous detractor had come close and given him a thumbs down sign. Perhaps this was the ‘attacker‘ Wee perceived. Nevertheless, Selangor police chief Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah and the rally organisers said that Wee was not assaulted and that he had not lodged any police report.

Lest we get blindsided, let us not allow the media attention on the unverified ‘assault’ divert us from the matter at hand and that is the long-standing issue that has remained unsolved for decades – the shortage of Chinese school teachers. The problem has been brought up countless times with the Education Ministry, but it had been largely ignored. The rally was a result of years of frustration and disillusionment with the Education Ministry.

REFSA does not condone any form of violence, but it is unfortunate that something unconfirmed has been given precedence over a serious matter that has been ignored the last 30-40 years by authorities. It would be spot on to say that Malaysians have long been suffering the silent ‘assault’ of inaction, apathy and indifference by people in government. Many urgent issues stretch unresolved for decades, and this is one of them.

Someone did land a punch, but in Mont Kiara

The second assault charge came from a security supervisor at a high-end condominium in Mont Kiara. The supervisor claimed he was punched by one Mohamad Nedim while being held down by the latter’s bodyguard. It appears that the two men had objected to providing their details prior to entry. Nedim is the son of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz. Nazri has washed his hands of the matter, insisting he is not responsible for his son’s actions.

Unlike Wee’s case, the injured victim did lodge a police report. Apparently the altercation was captured on CCTV. Police were quick to clear Nedim, leading to allegations of favoured treatment. Coincidentally, in 2004, Nedim was also alleged to be involved in a case in nearby Desa Sri Hartamas where 23-year-old law student Darren Kang was beaten to death. Nedim was subsequently cleared, and  a group of workers at a restaurant in the area were later arrested.

Interestingly, Nedim and company came to the condominium in exceptional style.  He drove up in a Porsche whilst his bodyguard came in a luxury MPV. Nazri is now under pressure to explain `the source of his funds’ for the purchase of these very pricey vehicles.

A man with a bodyguard makes us think of celebrities, VIPs, the affluent and royalty. Wonder which category in particular Nedim falls under? Or is it all the above?

Seeing ‘apparitions’ where there are none

When people in power start seeing things, society should start feeling apprehensive. In this case, the Johor Education Department and Johor Mufti Department saw phantoms of Christian fervour reaching out to convert Muslims in Johor. Hence they collaborated to organise a seminar titled Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the Role of Teachers? for religious teachers in 55 national schools. 

The perceived threat of Christianity by these two departments is viewed with concern by many quarters including church leaders. Fair-minded people want to see clear evidence of this accusation and investigations so far show the perception is unfounded. The danger actually lies in Muslim fundamentalists touting this imagined danger, and using it as grounds to push for an agenda ‘to strengthen the faith of Muslims’. It is also perturbing to note that this initiative comes from a department that is supposed to be education-oriented.

Islamic Affairs Minister Jamil Khir Baharom has given the seminar his full support. According to him, this is a means to protect Muslims.  But such seminars can only propagate feelings of mistrust, suspicion and paranoia. Are the authorities oblivious to the fact that this seminar will undoubtedly create some kind of tension in the community? Or does that not matter?

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...