In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here.
Sandra Rajoo brings to 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.”
Terrible tardiness at the Home Ministry – ‘typo errors’ in crime statistics
On June 19, data breakdown on crime rates given to Parliament pointed to an increase in violent crimes in Selangor, from 7,853 cases in 2010 to 8,141 in 2011; cases of theft also rose, from 31,838 in 2010 to 36,161 in 2011. This led Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua to assert that the NKRA for crime prevention did not perform to expectations. Immediately, the Home Ministry issued new data the following day, citing typographical error. This time the crime rate index is vastly altered – crime rates fell from 49,469 cases in 2010 to 44,302 in 2011. Completely different sets of numbers, and it’s a typo error?
How do the police figure in the crime rate index?
Are the police included in the statistics quoted in the crime index? Police misconduct tops the list of complaints made to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) – 120 out of total 171. That’s almost 70%; now that’s worrying. If people entrusted with keeping law and order are not beyond reproach, lawlessness will thrive, our streets will remain unsafe and the crime index will spiral upwards.
PSC says Lynas is safe: what next?
The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has completed its investigation into Lynas. It says everything is A-OK, and a temporary operating licence (TOL) should be issued. But why does the whole exercise leave such a bad taste in the mouth? Probably because, firstly, the PSC’s terms of reference – to prove that the plant is safe – suggested a foregone conclusion. Secondly, despite its pledge of engaging with the people over matters of public interest, the government as represented by PSC, chose to butt heads with those who voiced concerns about the project.
The Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) group has dismissed the findings as ‘government hogwash‘. SMSL is requesting an audience in Parliament to rebut the findings of the report. Its hands are tied though – it is restrained from publicly speaking its case by a defamation suit filed by Lynas. Meanwhile, keep your ear to the ground and your eyes peeled for a demonstration planned this Sunday near Gebeng by anti-Lynas activists.
Much as the government desires, the PSC report does not mean the end of the controversy. While BN is unwavering, anti-Lynas groups are doubly determined. Will things come to a head?
Another deplorable case of promises not being kept
Nowhere to go and no place to stay – that is the sad plight of 1009 Bidayuhs in Sarawak who have been shortchanged by their state government. These natives were supposed to leave their homes following the building of Bengoh Dam which encroached into their lands. But their promised resettlement areas are no longer livable – apparently the State Forestry Department had issued logging licences for these areas to “leaders in Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) and cronies of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president”.
The logging had caused massive environmental destruction, making it unfit for habitation. How did this happen? Was it an inexcusable oversight, flagrant incompetence or fraudulent manipulation? Or all three?
14 years ago, something similar happened to more than 9,000 people from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan communities who had to make way for the Bakun Dam. They lost their homes and their land but the compensation promised them also got lost in bureaucratic exploitation and deceit.
Not interested in solving real life issues
The Bidayuh quandary is just one of many land issues in East Malaysia. In Sabah, woes range from “loss of ancestral lands due to re-zoning of forest reserves”, land illegally acquired by private companies, to inaction and apathy of local authorities. In fact, Suhakam has compiled a report on Land Rights of Indigenous People in Malaysia and wants Parliament to debate the issue. But its findings will probably never see the light of day as Parliament has consistently ignored all their reports and recommendations in the last 11 or 12 years. Perhaps, getting down to the business of solving problems, debating policies and ruling ethically and morally is too much for the brain? Self interest, nodding away good sense and resorting to ‘monkey’ antics in Parliament could be more the ministers’ cup of tea.
Mark ‘26 June’ on your calendar
The surreptitious procurement of Scorpene submarines, sale of a secret Royal Malaysian Navy document to the French, and French court subpoenas on Malaysian ministers have become the talk of town despite their blackout in mainstream media. But all will be clarified on 26 June says Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi. After all the hush hush, the government is ready to reveal its closely guarded secrets. But don’t get too excited because knowing how things get done or undone, the disclosure may turn out to be an anti-climax.
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.
(Featured image accompanying article on main page courtesy of Fernando Almeida Santos, source: http://bit.ly/PFYkWe)