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REFSA Rojak is our weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia. We 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.
Happy, peaceful Malaysians – but not on national TV
The eagerly awaited Home Ministry video on the Bersih 3.0 event is a no show. Apparently the Home Minister wants all the rally footage in its possession to be ‘further investigated’. The DAP is a step ahead of the ministry – its video juxtaposing clear footage of the overwhelmingly festive, peaceful nature of the tens of thousands of participating Malaysians with the inglorious police behaviour is now available.
Obviously this is one video that’s not going to make it to national TV, but do catch it online.
Ever heard of the EAIC?
Complaints of police brutality during Bersih 3.0 hit us from all sides, but, ironically, no one saw fit to lodge any with the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). The Commission was set up in 2009 to ‘investigate the misconduct of all government enforcement agencies’. The EAIC “does not reject any complaint” but CEO Nor Afizah said, “People just don’t trust us”. Which begs the question, should this little-known Commission just be disbanded?
Stick and stones may break my bones, but cartoons hurt even more …
Vicious physical attacks on a person can cause great pain, as many in the Bersih rally can attest to, but a non-physical assault can hurt just as much. The pens wielded by cartoonists have pierced some pompous politicians so much that the Election Commission has decided to place a ban on political cartoons.
Popular cartoonist Zunar however is not deterred. Zunar says cartoons were widely used by BN in the 1986 election to put itself in a good light, so the latest ban merely serves to exemplify the practice of double standards.
We wish the authorities had acted just as swiftly recently when violence and hostility greeted MP Nurul Izzah and her supporters at her Lembah Pantai constituency, causing an elderly man to be seriously injured. Lately, Pakatan Rakyat functions have been marred by violence perpetrated by outsiders, but action from law enforcers has been lukewarm.
Conform, or else…
The ban on cartoons comes hot on the heels of a book-banning blitz by the BN federal government. The most recent ban on Irshad Manji’s Allah, Liberty and Love is just one of many. Other books that don’t see the light of day in Malaysia include Islam by Mathew S Gordon, Lifting the Veil by Trudie Crawford, and The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong.
Banning writings that don’t conform to someone’s idea of right and wrong is so passe. But then again, the BN federal government has shown time and again it values compliance and blind allegiance over diversity.
How will we ever become a high-income, innovative and creative nation if we are forced to think in a regimented manner?
Was Bank Negara gambling?
In the 1980s and 90s, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was a huge player in the foreign exchange market, apparently on the scale of renown hedge-fund manager George Soros. But while Soros made tons of money, BNM incurred massive losses – RM30 billion at the very least.
People implicated then included finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and BNM deputy governor Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who is now a minister in prime minister Najib’s cabinet. At that time, the losses were not investigated as they should be. Dr Rosli Yaakob, a senior manager at BNM during those tumultuous years, last week opened this can of worms, and accused the guilty parties of gambling “recklessly and irresponsibly”.
Once more, we are nastily jolted and reminded that we have suffered decades of BN-federal government mismanagement and scandals. Such mismanagement appears to have been institutionalised. As REFSA is showing in its latest expose, no less than the prime minister’s department via its powerful PEMANDU unit is stealing credit and misrepresenting its performance.
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: Bersih Rally - theborneopost.com]