Posted: 21 May 2013 02:23 PM PDT
One must wonder if Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat had chosen go after the Bangladeshis because of their smaller numbers and weaker political clout, or whether Anwar made a calculated move to go after the Bangladeshis knowing that there would be a lesser fall-out than if he were to go after the Indonesians.
Malaysia's 13th General Elections must rank as the most heated and disputed ever, even more so than Malaysia's 1969 elections.
For the first time ever, vigilante individuals and groups took it upon themselves to patrol the streets and detain people who they felt were not eligible to vote.
According to the Asia Pacific Human Rights Information Centre, Malaysia a multi-ethnic multi-religious country of about twenty-nine million, has about two million documented migrant workers, and at least two million undocumented migrant workers.
In 2010, it was reported that there was about 1.8 million foreign workers spread across sectors such as manufacturing (688,886), construction (288,722), plantation (256,382), domestic workers (224,544), services (180,890), with the rest being in agriculture. Majority of these workers come from the following countries ranked according to number of workers: Indonesia (917,932), Bangladesh (307,366), Nepal (175,810), Myanmar (140,260), India (113,797), and Vietnam (74,842).
It is common knowledge that the largest bloc of undocumented migrant workers numbering over two million are Indonesians, most probably for the simple reason being that they are our nearest neighbours among the list of undocumented migrant workers.
It would therefore make sense that if the Barisan Nasional wanted to commit fraud through alien voting, they would have turned to the Indonesians, and not Bangladeshis. In fact a lot of Indonesians who have been living in this country probably speak the local language even better than a lot of Malaysians making such a plan if it existed virtually fool proof. It therefore makes little sense that Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Rakyat chose to make scapegoats of the Bangladeshis.
Which begs the questions why, why did Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat go after the Bangladeshis when it would have made more sense to go after the Indonesians.
One must wonder if Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat had chosen go after the Bangladeshis because of their smaller numbers and weaker political clout, or whether Anwar made a calculated move to go after the Bangladeshis knowing that there would be a lesser fall-out than if he were to go after the Indonesians, political repercussions from the Indonesians both in this country and from his carefully cultivated Indonesian friends from abroad.
As it turns out, Parti Keadilan Rakyat's mouthpiece the Suara Keadilan and a DAP politician have been forced to make public apologies to dark skinned Malaysians whom they accused of being Bangladeshis.
KIMMA, the Indian Muslim political party too has made numerous police reports claiming that their members have been harassed by vigilantes across the country because of their skin colour.
In a Post GE13 Forum last week, a panellist who is a local academic recounted how three of his research assistants, all Malaysians of Indian descent were detained for 5 hours in Kuala Trengganu by vigilantes who accused them of being Bangladeshis and trying to vote; they subsequently lodged police reports because they were not able to vote as they were only released after 5pm.
So far, despite all these revelations, neither BERSIH the self-appointed polls watch dog nor the Bar Council which often speaks up on behalf of the Malaysian Bar on matters related to human rights abuses have failed to make any comment with regards to this criminal targeting of a migrant community.
They have been quick to add their voice to that of the Pakatan Rakyat in claiming that there have been allegations of fraud in the last elections, but nothing so far on the issue of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.
Lest we forget, Article 8 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia provides that "All persons are equal before the law and is entitled to equal protection of the law." By using the term "person," as opposed to "citizen," the constitutional provision makes it most clear that this guarantee of rights extends to all persons, including migrant workers.
Stephen Doss is political observer, Advisor to the Social Media Chambers of Malaysia and can be found on tweeter @stephendoss
Posted: 21 May 2013 12:42 PM PDT
We hear stories of crimes committed by foreign workers. The Bangladeshis formed the 2nd largest contingent of foreign workers at one time but their numbers involved in crime were disproportionately lower than the biggest group - no ice creams for guessing correctly.
Ice Cream Seller
We have been hearing far too many negative stories about the Bangladeshis in the run up to and post GE13. Many Malaysians have freely vented their feelings and I can't help but notice the enormous amount of ignorance being demonstrated in the process.
How many actually know that their country was formerly East Pakistan? How many know that it has a secular constitution? Do you know that the nationals are called BANGLADESHIS (as opposed to what has become a derogatory term here - BANGLA) Do you know that they are 98% Bengalis? (Our dumb history books teach our kids that Bengalis are the people with turbans - referring instead to the Sikhs who are Punjabis.) Do they know that their (Bangladeshi) language is Bengali - probably centuries older than our BM and with a script of their own? Do our history books teach and our bigots know that Punjabis have various faiths - mainly Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims (as amongst Pakistani Punjabis)?
We have many foreign workers here - and I have seen them all on the payroll. Indonesians, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Thais, Indians, Bangladeshis, Burmese, Pakistanis. We hear stories of crimes committed by foreign workers. The Bangladeshis formed the 2nd largest contingent of foreign workers at one time but their numbers involved in crime were disproportionately lower than the biggest group - no ice creams for guessing correctly.
Many employers will tell you that they got their money's worth employing Bangladeshi workers compared to many others (for the relevant sectors).
In my humble operation in Australia, I had the good fortune to employ 2 of them - a young couple. Rima approached me out of the blue when I was idling in a mall and asked for a job. She had just arrived with her husband who was doing his Master in Engineering at a leading university. I had no vacancies at the time. She still came regularly. Almost 3 times a week. On one of her later visits , she brought her husband, Atif - the 2 would not have looked out of place in Bollywood.
Rima herself was a graduate in Electrical Engineering - like her husband. When there eventually was an opening, I took in Atif instead. The vacancy suited a male better but eventually, I was able to hire them both. They worked well with the other staff - Aussies, Koreans, Japanese, Singaporeans, Indonesians, French and a few others.
During the fasting month, he continued as usual. I remember an incident once when he said he could not taste the ice cream while it was being made because of Ramadan. I related to him an incident in the past where I had an Indonesian Production Manager who said that it was alright to taste it as that was part of the job - he would just rinse his mouth after that. He said he was not consuming it for pleasure (half a teaspoonful). Atif thought about it, and thereafter did exactly that.
They were like children of my own to me. He would come in at 7am in the dead of winter on some days and run off at 9am - to catch the bus for lectures. Whenever I was out of town, they collected the cash and banked in every cent. When I gave them money for taxis (on days when they worked nights), they would take the bus and return the money - without deducting bus fare. I gave them both my credit card to use when they went to buy supplies for me.
Some customers thought that we were family - true in a sense. She sent food for me once in a while. We shared meals often at work. They were both popular with customers - she for her warmth and he for his neatness and efficiency. When my late brother was hospitalised, they went frequently to visit him - despite having to prepare for exams and juggling work shifts.
What also set them apart in comparison to many of our own spoilt kids was that THEY NEEDN'T HAVE DONE IT. Rima's father was a professor in a university back home. Atif's father was one of the most senior officers in the air force - post retirement, he was still provided with a driver and bodyguard. They could have just relaxed on their parents' provisions but chose not to.
When Atif graduated with his Masters degree, he brought the certificate to the workplace after convocation and had a photograph taken with me. On their return from Australia, they stopped in KL - and we had the opportunity to bring them home and go sightseeing.
Rima refers to me as her Malaysian father and I call her my Bengali daughter. I am sometimes father and sometimes father-in-law to Atif - depending on the situation!
So, the issue before us is that we not paint them all with the same broad brush. I can relate very similar situations with the various other nationalities I have had the good fortune to have interacted with over the last 30 years.
The fact that foreigners were used by unscrupulous politicians during GE13 should not be their cross to bear in isolation. Instead of going after them alone, we should go after the hidden hands behind all these shenanigans - even if the trails lead to Kerala.
Posted: 21 May 2013 11:52 AM PDT
Don't choose to be blind over abolishing vernacular schools.
Having a one education system is a good platform to cultivate real multiracialism for kids from the beginning and not during the teenage years (13) where commonly they prefer to mix among their own community. It is worse when they have to enrol into remove class (Peralihan - a discrimination for kids who couldn't master Bahasa Malaysia after 6 years).
Most parents or scholars prefer the upcoming generation to master certain languages according to demand. This is not a wrong perception but 'taraf apa' to know your own mother tongue. The mindset should be tuned; learning a language isn't to help the economy but you risk losing one's identity. They will fail to know the history of their own ancestors, the culture, the morale, the scriptures about god; all these are mostly available in their own mother tongue language. Yes, no doubt all these are available in English but how original can it be? Can you get 100% chicken curry taste in vegetarian chicken curry?
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