Sandra Rajoo brings 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.”

AES’ long and winding road

The federal government is finding lots of potholes on the road leading to the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES).

In Lumut, NGOs and residents demonstrated near Transport Minister and Lumut MP Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha’s service centre in the hope of getting their message across. Unfortunately, the message was lost as the minister gave in to emotion and expressed anger at the protestors for causing a traffic jam.

In Selangor, an ultimatum was issued to the Transport Ministry to remove the two AES cameras installed in Kajang. The state government said the installation had contravened municipal council regulations.

However for Kong, retracting the AES is not an option. He is adamant about going ahead with what has been planned and stays oblivious to all objections. Instead of getting all hot and bothered, why not listen to and understand the people’s grouses first? Go ahead only after addressing the concerns raised, ironing out the kinks and plugging all the loopholes.

Will a new slogan help Umno win the election?

Umno hopes its new ‘motto’, ABATA, will spur its members to win back the seats it lost in 2008, said Information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan in the run-up to the Umno general assembly from Nov 27 to Dec 1. ABATA stands for ‘agama, bangsa, tanah air’ and serves to remind members not to put their “own interests above the party’s”. Barring sabotage, Umno is confident BN will win the two-thirds majority it had lost.

Political observers, however, cautioned Umno against swinging “inwards and to the far right”, thus losing the support of minorities, if it wants to stay relevant. PM Dato’ Sri Najib’s “more reconciliatory” approach and propagation of multi-racialism seem to be lost on the party. The danger of Umno becoming a victim of its own self-imposed importance is very real. MCA and MIC no longer form equal parts of the BN coalition equation but instead have become subservient to a dominant and domineering UMNO.

If Umno continues to choose “the narrow path of racial politics”, will ABATA be able broaden its appeal among all Malays and minority groups?

Setback not stopping SMSL

Is this the end of the road for Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL)? They lost their case against Lynas when the government granted the company a temporary operating licence (TOL) to start operations at the rare earth plant. Now, their appeal for the suspension of the TOL has been rejected by the courts.

Perhaps we will come to know the final outcome of this long-drawn stand-off on Nov 30 when “two judicial review cases challenging the government’s decision” will be heard. But no matter how bleak the situation, SMSL’s resolve appears to remain strong. The fight is far from over.

Police officers above the law

Beating up people, raping women etc. are normally the work of thugs and gangsters – or so one would think. But in a number of shocking cases, it was found that police officers are behaving in the manner of criminals. One case involves two police officers from the Crime Investigation Department of Kuching Police District who were alleged to have brutally beaten up a 29-year-old suspected snatch thief. The victim is now in critical condition at the Sarawak general hospital. The second involves three police officers who allegedly gang-raped an Indonesian migrant worker in Prai. What makes it even more outrageous is that the rape took place at a police station. How this escaped the eyes of other officers defies logic.

Disgraceful and shameful don’t even begin to describe what happened. When will the police force start giving people reasons to trust and feel safe around our men in blue again?


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!

[pic credit – road: alison.hare@flickr]

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...