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.”

Those who make the law must obey the law

Chinese New Year should be a time for festivities and merry-making. But laws being broken by our own federal government in the name of this auspicious occasion have marred the celebrations.

Consider the case of the illegal banner depicting Dato’ Sri Najib – which the Seberang Prai Municipal Council removed – because it had been put up without a permit. Rather than acknowledge the error, the Barisan Nasional hurled criticism at the state government, the strongest of which came from Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen who vehemently and arrogantly defended this flouting of the law in the name of the PM.

Indeed, BN seemed keen to show it was above the law.  Subsequently, it put up five thousand 1Malaysia-BN flags to welcome the PM who was attending the BN open house in Penang. These flags were not only illegal, they were haphazardly hoisted and posed a danger to motorists. The Penang Municipal Council had approved an application to put up 1000 flags with the BN logo, but no application had been made for the 1Malaysia flags.

Government leaders, of all people, should know that the law must be applied equally to all regardless of position, status or wealth. If we have one set of rules for the common people and another for the elite, societies will become chaotic. MPs and Ministers who say the law can be broken for whatever reason have no business being in Parliament trying to enact laws.

“Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.” – Sophocles

The PM is deaf to law-breaking firecrackers

Has the ban on firecrackers been lifted? Apparently yes, if a recent CNY advertisement is anything to go by. The advertisement portrayed PM Najib literally drumming up support for his coalition with the sound of firecrackers resonating in the background. With the PM playing a key role in the advertisement, some people may take it to mean that this unlawful activity is being sanctioned by the government.

Whether Najib realises it or not, he has inadvertently endorsed the breaking of a law.

Camera trained on AES court case

Was any law broken in the process of implementing the Automated Enforcement System (AES) in Selangor? AES contractor Beta Tegap put up camera poles on the PLUS and SKVE highways, but the Sepang Municipal Council says that is illegal as the company did not apply for approval for putting up cameras on state land. Beta Tegap however, insists the highways are under the jurisdiction of the federal government and no permit is required.

Who is right and who has breached the law? The case is now in the courts and we will soon find out when a ruling is made on Feb 21.

If businesses and municipal councils can interpret laws differently, there must be something wrong about how these laws are presented to the public. It is incumbent upon federal and state governments to ensure that federal and state jurisdictions are spelled out clearly to prevent confusion and the recurrence of such incidents.

Money for Votes

What does the law say about enticing people with money to vote for a particular party? Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says BN may offer RM1000 under BR1M 3 should Malaysians vote the ruling coalition back into power. Does this inducement constitute a bribe? In fact the RM500 given under BR1M 2 following hard on the heels of an impending general election can also be construed as a bribe. Doubling the offer amount sounds generous but can it also be viewed as a sign of desperation?

Under different circumstances, handouts may be considered an act of compassion for the disadvantaged but when it comes with a direct message of who to vote for, it doesn’t sound right. The MACC, police and Election Commission should come out and clarify whether the laws of the country have been contravened.

Laws are enacted for a purpose, and their interpretation must be consistent under any circumstance. When people in power set aside laws to put personal interests first, they are paving the way for anarchy to take root.

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato


[pic credit: gavel – steakpinball@Flickr]


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...