[Aliran published an edited version]
It all started with the game-over officiated on 10th May 2018, at 4:40 am: Pakatan Harapan wins 14th General Election. Najib took the lead of falling dominoes:
- 14 May: MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad quits.
- 5 June: Apandi Ali accepts termination as A-G.
- 6 June: Bank Negara Governor has submitted resignation.
- 11 June: Massive police clean up may see IGP replaced.
- 13 June: Malaysia’s top two judges resign.
- 13 June: EC chief’s tenure cut short.
- 14 June: Former MACC chief Dzulkifli ordered to retire early.
Malaysia is not alone. Elsewhere, many were terminated, suspended and fired all around the world:
- 12 June 2018: Missouri waitress fired after racist Snapchat.
- 29 May 2018: ABC cancels ‘Roseanne’ after star’s racist Twitter rant.
- 30 April 2018: Amber Rudd’s resignation: Fourth cabinet minister steps down. What happened? She misled MPs over targets for removing illegal immigrants.
- 16 April 2018: Starbucks Employee Who Called Police on Black Men No Longer Works There. What happened? She called the police when there were no threats and no disturbance.
- 15 March 2018: UPenn law professor removed for calling black students inferior. What happened? She said she has never seen a black student graduate in the top quarter.
- 4 Jan 2018: Sen. Lynn Beyak booted from Conservative caucus over ’racist’ post. What happened? She refused to remove the comment from her website.
- 25 Dec 2017: Dollarama employee fired after racist remark. What happened? She uttered slurs towards customers.
- 1 October 2017: Massey College professor resigns. What happened? He made a racially offensive remark during lunch. Massey College is University Toronto’s. University of Toronto is like the Cambridge-cum-Oxford of Canada.
- 10 July 2017: Tory MP suspended. What happened? She used a racist term during Brexit meeting.
- 24 Mar 2006: University suspends lecturer in racism row. What happened? He insists that black people and women are genetically inferior. This happened over a decade ago, I add to our list as it was a high-profile case.
The list shows how, regardless of the person’s capacity (whether waitress or professor), no matter how great was the person’s contribution to the organisation, he/she can lose their entire career by a single discriminatory remark.
Operasi lalang has always been too close to our hearts. It really depends what we saw as lalang, what we see as lalang, what we meant by lalang and what we mean by lalang.
(Lalang is the Malay word for weeds.)
We have gone over two lists. The first covers local happenings. The second covers incidents abroad – which some might find less sensational, less dramatic and less juicy. Let us now move on to some famous quotes by Jagdeep Singh Deo, the Penang State Exco for Local Government, Housing, Town and City Planning (only one URL will be provided as an example, as there are too many):
- “foreign workers … roaming around … in their underwear”. This was Jagdeep’s public statement, not even a casual or passing remark over lunch. FMT published verbatim without censor (if that’s how Malaysians understand and fight for as press freedom and free speech, oh well oh well.) FMT could have pointed out that the vulgar attack is biadap, that Jagdeep’s interjection is untrue, that such words reflect badly on himself rather than on his prey. The social implications are worrying because readers tend to absorb such ideas as a matter of fact, correct and proper – without thinking.
- “biometric system to monitor the workers’ movements”. Can we bio-tag somebody and restrict his/her movement when he/she is without criminal, leprosy or psychiatric record? Is Jagdeep saying we should bar the spiderman from scaling the building to save the baby hanging from the balcony, also bar those migrant workers from saving the lady knocked out in a fire?
- “workers … would be placed in the dormitories, there will be no more social problem”. So, Jagdeep, since you insist, take this then as your KPI (key performance indicator) criterion. Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim had already offered you a tip-off, “Locals, not migrant workers, are major perpetrators of crime”? In case social problems persist after segregating people from our communities, don’t forget to unlock all those gates and set everyone free before passing the baton to a successor fitting by merit (not by lineage or inheritance as so-and-so’s son). Pass to someone who can fulfil his/her housing portfolio by providing housing (not taint the portfolio by throwing families out of existing homes).
In a civilised society, that statement about undergarments alone could have been a political suicide – Jagdeep could have lost his entire career. Here he is, ever powerful and arrogant, spared of any rebuke or would-be disciplinary investigation, fiercely flogging on. Ubah fans claiming to be ever so correct and righteous re-appointed him to power, not giving him even a gentle nudge or whisper that he is scandalous by his thoughts, deeds and words.
For 4 months I stood watch over a construction site with over a hundred migrant workers, who sometimes work past midnights. I watched them starting out in the morning — breaking for coffee, lunch and tea as soon as the clock ticked so — signing off work, cleaning up, managing laundry, sometimes nailing stray pieces of wood together to make simple pieces of furniture to answer practical needs in their community. They wear long sleeves and long trousers whilst at work; off work they change into sarong. What is Jagdeep seeing?
(Sarong is a one-piece cloth wrapped around the waist, extending all the way to the feet – a common tradition Malaysians and many migrant workers share.)
Dear people of our New Malaysia, can we not hold our State Exco answerable to the code of conduct we expect from the Missouri waitress, the Starbucks employee, the Dollarama cashier, TV star Roseanne, cabinet minister Amber Rudd, senator Lynn Beyak, backbencher Anne Marie Morris and the academics from University of Leeds, University of Toronto and University of Pennsylvania?