Atchafalaya Swamp

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Malaysia The Arrogant

© Gatra

On the cusp of turning 50, Malaysia rears its ugly, arrogant head

Sorry for being tardy in updating my blog. Have been a bit busy lately, and I'm sure, so have you. What with celebrating Merdeka and busy pondering over the bujet.

Working in Indonesia I had the unenviable task of fending off criticisms (and still coming in, I assure you) over the "Wasit Donald" incident. Just to refresh you a bit, Wasit (referee) Donald, the Indonesian karate referee who was ignominiously waylaid and beaten up by four plainclothes policemen outside the Allson Klana Resort in Nilai, Negri Sembilan a week before our so-called "50 th"
Merdeka celebrations.

This had created a furore of sorts in Indonesia.

And the cries of Ganyang Malaysia are still heard in some venerable hot spots across this vast archipelago of close to a quarter billion people.

Gatra, the influential weekly newsmagazine, chose to do a front cover piece on the relations between Indonesia and Malaysia in its latest September 6th edition.

Malaysians need to be reminded that Indonesia’s press is truly free, and they can choose to highlight whatever they like – no “4th Floor” pseudo-editors to whip the Malaysian press and shape the Nation’s news. Therefore it is prudent for Malaysia to mind their bigger tetangga.

Although the press in Malaysia chose not to carry news of Pak Lah’s personal telephone call to President SBY apologizing over the incident, that event was fortunately given a lot of prominence here. So was IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan’s personal letter of apology (in English) read by Malaysia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Dato’ Zainal Abidin to Donald Kolopita at his bedside at Jakarta’s Pertamina hospital.

I say “fortunate” because perhaps the apology helped douse some of the raging fire of discontent of its citizens. However, some quarters here simply think that ‘Sorry, for the incident – we promise to investigate and deal with the culprits in accordance with Malaysian laws’ – simply isn’t enough. They want justice to be seen and done swiftly.

Even seating Indonesia's VP Yusuf Kalla (a Bugisman too, I might add) in the guest of honor position flanking PM Pak Lah and fellow DPM-cum-Bugisman at the recent Merdeka morning parade didn't help to cool things down. In fact, speculation abounds as to why SBY spurned the invitation to attend and sent his deputy instead was to placate his critics. But this could all be "spin", eh?

There were reports of Petronas petrol stations in Jakarta being blockaded although I can’t confirm this.

There were reports of marauding youths attempting to harass visiting Malaysian badminton players at a hotel in Surabaya.

In Bogor last week, three Malaysian Chinese were expelled for allegedly "working" in Indonesia, thus violating express conditions stipulated on their tourist visas. The knee jerk tit-for-tat response, I suppose.

I now carry my Indonesian Residency Permit (KITAS) on my person at all times if I happen to be in town. Even the once free-wheeling Mat Salo is getting paranoid.

(Like the rules arbritarily enforced on Indonesian guest workers at the whims and fancies of RELA personnel, pehaps carrying just the KITAS alone isn't enough. One can get detained for not carrying the passport AND the work permit too, for example.)

I was also alerted by my Indonesian friends and colleagues here on the sudden proliferation of emails telling other instances of abuses by Malaysian authorities (read: PDRM / RELA) meted on their citizens (especially bona fide Indonesian tourist's tales-of-woe) while visiting Malaysia.

In Tempo’s editorial - another popular and influential weekly newsmagazine -it even highlighted our penchant for calling them by the derogatory term Indon.

Just last week, about 50-stong GOLKAR’s Pemuda Pancasila (PP) - Komite Nasional Pemuda Indonesia (KNPI) - sort of their version of Malaysia’s infamous Pemuda UMNO's Gerak Gempur battalion (who, for some, have likened the group to thugs) descended upon Balikpapan’s Malaysia military attaché office to “demo” and hand over a memorandum. Fortunately, our liason officer here, a Mejar, and a close friend of mine, managed to persuade the protesters to calm down and accepted their memorandum with promises to hand the memo over to our embassy in Jakarta.

The Mejar lamented that I wasn't around to lend him moral support when his compound was besieged. On the drilling barge I was already held in a state of siege myself.

The next day, Balikpapan Post reported on the incident with the headline Arogansi Bukan Budan Melayu (Arrogance is not part of the Malay psyche).

Frankly, being the sole Malaysian in a floating barge surrounded by over 100 seething Indonesians makes me a wee bit jittery.

But really, I have no fear of what can personally befall me. I can deal with that. After all I have dealt with rebel leaders in war-torn Southern Sudan before. Back in ’98 I was chased by Burmese military policemen as I tried to enter the street where Nobel Laureate Daw Aung Sang Syu Kii lives (she was – and still is - under house arrest). I wanted to see what her house looked like. And did I tell you I once had the unfortunate experience of being an overnight guest in a US prison? But all that pales in comparison to the shame I’m feeling now. Shame is something hard for me to take. I’ll take fear over shame any day.

Oh, how can we, as Malaysians, have become so arrogant?

© Antara News Agency

© Antara News Agency

My heartfelt appreciation to fellow Malaysian bloggers Rocky Brew, Elizabeth Wong, Mob 1900, Tokasid and Nathaniel Tan for bringing the issue into the Malaysian conciousness. Please click on the respective links to their blogs for a more comprehensve view.

Finally I will leave you to ponder this Indonesian (written in English) blog that I happened to have chanced upon recently.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hard to say I am sorry

You know, people say in politics you can spin anything. Not this time, eh Malaysia. It looks bad whichever angle you look at it. Come on.

Background story, read here.

How do you spin a news about policemen beating up a civilian (who is a foreigner) for no obvious reason?

This, of course does not mean we are saying that Indonesian police is better. But you know, with all the news we read about Malaysia, the economic successes (in relative comparison to Indonesia), we thought things would be better there than here. And many things are: Indonesian GNI per capita for example, is USD 1,280, while Malaysia is USD 4,970. Life expectancy at birth, Indonesia 68 years, Malaysia 74 years [1].

But apparently some things remain the same: Read the comments on Malaysia Today [2] regarding the news. We assume it is written mostly by Malaysians, and you'll see that despite the economy, some things just won't change. Like corrupt public officials. Or abusive policemen.

Some of the comments that attracted our attention (just in case it is censored later on by the Malaysian government):

"Bpk harus beri duit kopi dan polisi akan memberi persembahan lagu dan tarian "namawee".Semuanya salah bpk kerane tidak tahu budaya polisi Malaysia"

"The only difference between thugs/muggers and the PDRM is that the former is unlicensed, while the latter is free to hassle the general public. Infact, I truly believe in Malaysia, the PDRM is guilty of more crimes that the criminals. We were taught in school that actually a policeman's role is suppose to be preventive, but somehow that is not the case in Bolehland."

"Don't tell me these policemen thinking that this guy is a foreigner is a good game for robbing (policemen have been known to rob the illegals)"
"In Malaysia we are in constant fear of two groups of people, The Criminals and The Police."

"Years back, the Thomas Cup finals in Jakarta was marred by the unruly crowd. But today, Malaysia has sunk below Indonesia in fairplay & gamesmanship...and the Polis is implicated. IF the Govt. does not stop the rot (at 'the guardians of the law'), the country will be avoided by investors & tourists."

"If Anwar Ibrahim who was then the DPM can be beaten up by the police, who else cannot be beaten?"

We say no more.

Source:[1] World Bank Key Development & Statistics [2] Malaysia-today.net



Daphne Ling said...

Hi Abang Mat,

Lama tak jumpa yeah!

Anyway, any one will be angry with this kind of news...Not just to a foreigner, but to any human being for that matter...

And really, does it hurt to say a sorry? A sorry for causing hurt? I will respect you more if you said sorry...

And to think that this has caused so much strife and disrest in Indonesia...An apology would have not only made our Indonesian friends 'happier', it would have also made our own Malaysian friends feel safer, no?

And the question of 'why?' remains...

Mat Salo said...

Hi Daphne!

Ya lorr long time no see. Actually Pak Lah did say sorry but to a lot of Indonesians here, in light of other incidents happening to their citizens - saying sorry alone just wont cut it. They want to see the culprits brought to book.

The point is their perception of Malaysia's "arrogance". This image needs to be changed if we need to have a fruitful long term relationship with our neighbors.

Yes, Daphne, the question of "why" remains. That's why they call us arrogant.

Pi Bani said...

Allo brader, long time no hear... :)

To me frankly, it's the same everywhere. Something happens to an Indonesian in Malaysia, BIG news in Indonesia, not so big news in Malaysia. Something happens to a Malaysian in Indonesia, BIG news in Malaysia, not so big news in Indonesia. Or anywhere else for that matter... US, Australia or mana-mana sajalah. Things tend to get swept under the carpet by the "guilty" country... apologise they do when they get pressured, but what next? Talk, talk and more talk but no action. Sigh...

galadriel said...

ello brader!!!

I've been askin around wot happened to u. Ancient Mariner said u have Blogger's Block. Thank god u came back.

What u said remind me of a story a friend of mine told me.

Back in the 80s, my friend was in Bandar Muazzam Shah working a a harvester (oil palm). He was walking with his worker along a construction site. His worker told him, "This police station is being built by Indonesian workers. But after they finish, the will put Indonesian workers inside it."
That roadside prophecy came true less than a year later.

We depend on them so much, yet we treat them like dirt. Indonesians, who are more steeped in culture and have a greater sense of national identity than us. Yeah, I pun malu.

Kata Tak Nak said...

I am still in the dark why those bastard police whack the wasit? I could only speculate. Could it be some of our samsengs under police protection wanted the wasit to favour a certain exponent on him they had betted heavily and the wasit did not so these goons were sent to reach him a lesson? What else could I do but speculate.

Glad you are back and take care of yourself will you.

jaflam said...

MS, Arrogance is a bad trait and sign.... that leads to downfall and failure. Even suttle arrogance is not acceptable nowadays.... I remember few years ago one of Malaysian top CEO used to brag he practices suttle arrogance ..... but now he realized humanity and humbleness will take him and the organization on much higher ground.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

ello bang, looks like i'm the only one here cannot say 'long time no see' to u..hahha...

i just cant imagine how malaysians living in and around the 'hotspots' getting into their daily lives. fear is the order of the day surely. lets hope our 'big brother' from seberang will forgive us very soon.

and the culprits involved, they must not be let off the hook. bikin susah Malaysia je.

Mat Salo said...

Pi - Yalah, "talk, talk but no action" is what I'm afraid off. The Indo's here want the culprits brought to book soon!

Galadriel - I not kena blogger's block daa, but something akin to fear and loathing in Nilai, heh-heh. Damn, that roadside phrophecy in Bdr Muazzam is funny but at the same time sad. Imagine asking people to build to a sangkar and ask the very same people who built it to get locked inside. If they know, surely they cabut lari... Yeah, sometimes I don't know where to put my face...

Chegu - I am also curious as to the real story why the wasit kena whack. Man, they handcuffed him first, it is alleged, THEN only whack him. Karate or no Karate...How to fight back?

Bang Jaflam - arrogance will surely cause a downfall - be it person or country. It's only a matter of time...Being humble is definitely better for sure.

Kerp - "bikin susah saja", you said -how apt. Memang kasi susah habis. Tak care bro'. Me here, hard to hold my head up high (hari2 kena bedal) but I manage...

Raden Galoh said...

Bro MatSalo...finally I see around...risau gak ni sebenonya..yelah call tak angkat, sms tak reply, ke marah kat saya?

What you wrote here sound alarming...especially for you guys there, so please, please.... watch your back okay?

Selamat berpuasa, semoga Ramadhan ini menjadikan ibadah kita sumber keberkatan hidup...

elviza said...

We can't change the attitude of the world at large brother.

Most importantly, STAY SAFE.

Selamat berpuasa

Mat Salo said...

Hehe... RG, where got marah? Sorry, but betul I didn't see your sms. You pulak jangan marah ye?

No lah, I'm fine here.. just embarassed, that's all. Hari2 kena tanya pasal hal "OKNUM tu udah dibawak pengadilan ke belum Pak?" -Camner nak jawab? So they're really interested in the eventual outcome.

But what about the protestor that was shot (and has possibly died?) in Batu Buruk?

Hai.. belum abih dah kluar kasus satu lagi nih...

Ya lah RG dan Selamat Berpuasa Kembali!

Mat Salo said...

My Sis Elviza,

Selamat Berpuasa to you too. I will always TRY to stay safe, Insya'Allah...

Can't change the world, Sis, I know.. but we do what we can...

Kata Tak Nak said...

Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan Al Mubarak kepada semua

Zabs said...

Salam MS,
Glad to read you again, loud and clear. Nice reporting, 1000 times better thn those people who write for their paychecks. They should learn a lesson or two from you. They should write what the readers want to know instead of writing what they were told to write.
Selamat berpuasa to you, wherever you might be at the time being,in the open sea or ashore for R & R. Take care and God Bless.

zorro said...

Yo my swampman. First, apology I did not spend much time with you on your visit to Danny. Got called away by my grandson and when I returned you had left. Next trip, you come in and we will share that amber juice.

Knocking down a person in fair fight is acceptable. What is not acceptable and verily inhuman is to handcuff a person and pummelling him is the lowest act! Even the basest of animals dont do that. And four against one is no fair fight! Cowards become brave in numbers. These low-lives in uniform definitely tarnish the already tainted image of our police. On the Indonesian side I worry when anger is transfered into the hand of protest-poster-carrying children. We adults on both sides can do better that. Till I see you, keep safe and take care.


Have a Happy and blessed Ramadhan. bro!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Abang Mat,

Was meaning to reply to your statement, but tak boleh log in...
I read your post about Pak Lah apologising, but I meant that the police etc themselves should apologise...Sebab kan, what's the point of someone else apologising? It's like a child who did something wrong, and whose mother keeps saying sorry on his/her behalf...Tak belajar from kesilapan what the child like that! Must learn to say sorry, and mean it!

Hmmm...I actually came to wish you a blessed Ramadhan, and a Happy Fast, but then realised I forgot to come back to re-respond the day after when I got line again...

Anyway, Happy Ramadhan, and Happy Fasting!

Mat Salo said...

Unker Bernard Zorro!

Thanks, for dropping by, Sir. Yes, how can they stoop so low in whacking not only an unarmed man, but one who was also handcuffed!

Yes, I worry too because in the picture the children (I think their Karate-Do students) were also gung-ho in carrying out the protest... No worries Unker, next time can share more than Amber juice (post Ramadhan lah!)

Kak Ena - Ya, sama-sama Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan Al-Mubarrak. Ma'af Zahir Batin...

Pak Aji Zabs - Thanks for your kind words, Sir and Selamat Berpuasa to you too. Hopefully side effect perut kempis laa sikit, ya?

Daphne - Thanks for the kind wishes. Eh, my youngest sis baru lepas jadi doktor lah from IMU last July. Sorry, can't help but be a proud Abang-lah...

tokasid said...

Salam saudara Mat salo:

Maaf pak lambat ngomentar sini.
Apparently our Police Force had shown their fangs again in Kuala Trengganu 'riot'.As usual the govt-linked media potrayed the incidents as the oppositions' doing with the STAR relating it to PAS, PKR and DAP.

Anyway,I'm sure we can read on the net for stories from the other side of the 'riot' coin.
Knowing what the Special Branch,FRU and police force can and willing to do( eg Reformasi movements, Memali case,Ops Lallang,Pak Donald karate case, and not forgetting the Kesas Hiway incidents), I do not believe a word that came out from the Trengganu Ketua Polis. Even worse on TV3, Wan Farid the KJ crony, said it was the opposition who started it all.

Mat salo, do you think the Malaysian Police will apologise to Suandi and the other victim shot by that SB? Well, according to YB Husam in his blog, the Trengganu Police gave a hamper to Suandi.Would you give a hamper( eventhough Raya is longway to come)to someone who you claimed attacked and beat your men? I wonder what did Pak Donald receive from our Police Force apart from the apology?

Today I read a lot about the KT episode and and I can feel my 'temp[erature' is rising and by body is getting the 'hangin satu badan' feel. And its only the first day of Ramadan. But when I remeber our beloved Prophet saw and his companions were at war(Badar) in Ramadan, I realised we can still fight-on but with more patience.

Good to know you are okay over there. Thanks for replying my sms yesterday. You take care.

hang jangan posa yang yok di sana pak!

Mat Salo said...

Dear Dok TA,

Aku pon dok penin kapla about what is happening to our beloved country. By and large the police does its job well and is disciplined force.

My problem is that the police is being used as an UMNO apparatus...

kak maria said...

Salaam bro

Just wanna wish you "selamat berpuasa".

Mat Salo said...

Kak Maria!

Selamat Berpuasa to you too! And I DO miss coming over for the good company, ambience and of course - MEE REBUS!