Presana’s Apology…some thoughts


So the girl has apologized.

That’s the end of that I hope, though my Facebook trawling indicate otherwise, sigh. She was interviewed by Malay Mail in which she explained somewhat about what provoked her virulent rant. You can read about it here.

Two separate lessons here. One is, this person has learnt a hard lesson about the pitfalls of social media. These days, practically anyone with access to a wired PC can post anything on any subject.

But, with great connectivity comes great responsibility.  We say anything we want, but if we are not prepared to back it up with some cogent arguments, brickbats would soon follow.

Secondly, the bigger issue of what’s going on in that head of hers. Presana’s frustrated writings betrays a lack of understanding about not only communication but Indians in Malaysia.

Yes, some machas harassed her, and though she related one incident, it could have been something she endured many times. How does a woman deal with threats to self like that? I suggest getting some street smarts .

I was in her place, at different times in my life. Yes, I felt anger against the harassers. But at no time did I single out the ethnicity of the harassers as a target  of my hate. I did not even target the gender.

In my case, it was because the harassment came from males of different races, even foreigners;  Ang Mohs, Latinos, Africans, Pakistanis…you name it. KL after all is cosmopolitan.

Common denominator: Adult Males.

So do I hate guys? NO. I can’t. Cos sexual harassment is no longer about just race, gender etc. It’s about power. Some guys get off on the reactions. Some are just trying their luck. That doesn’t mean the entire male population is suspect.

Or in Presana’s case, that doesn’t mean all the machas are suspect. That is racial profiling. And racial profiling seems to be the reason why many, many machas end up recipients of Police Raja Di Malaysia’s “hospitality”, some of them dead, others languishing in Simpang Renggam under preventive detention (without trial mind you).

You see how one bad thought escalates into violence? So if a bunch of machas are really assholes devoid of a modicum of manners, is it fair to demonise the entire Tamil population of Malaysia?

People of Indian and Sri Lankan ancestry settled in Malaysia have many other issues affecting them. Lack of financial/educational opportunities, poverty, systematic marginalisation, disunity…to name a few.

We are not that numerous. Soon, the influx of foreign labour would/perhaps has been already, dilute the economic and rights pie even further. Thank you, Projek Pemutihan! Can we afford these incendiary words like pariah…among us? Was Interlok not enough of a lesson?

I hope the girls of Presana’s ilk realises the folly of her words. They cannot end well.

Note:  I acknowledge that my previous post on the matter also triggered some serious debate. I received many emails on the matter. Some of them kinda angry too. I will respond in the next post. Thanks.

Quo Vadis Malaysia?


So, let us not be blind to our differences – - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. – John F Kennedy, 10 June 1963.

The above paragraph was part of a speech by the late American president at a university, exhorting the Soviet Union then to join the US in a nuclear test treaty ban.

Tomorrow is Malaysia Day. For the first time since the coming together of the Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak under the name Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963, this historic day is given its proper recognition.

Long overdue, but better than nothing.

We Malaysians come from different walks of life, different faiths and ethnicity  and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Yet we would do well to examine Kennedy’s words above, for it is relevant to us.

He used the words in the context of global peace and order. We can apply it in the Malaysian context too, with the aim of ensuring the harmony of the nation. That is for our collective good, isn’t it?

After all, we all live, love, work, make a living and one day will die, on this same piece of earth we call Malaysia.

We differ in many ways.  We may even look different. I am dark brown, my housemate is a fair-skinned girl, my neighbour is what you would call “sawo matang”, yet under these skin runs the same red blood.

At the end of the day, we have similar hopes and dreams too, if you think about it. We’re not that different.

Malaysia is on the cusp of major change. The change in the path the country is taking began a few years ago. You may have noticed it in the shocking election results of 2008.

Malaysians are more aware now, and some I suspect, have woken up to fact that in a democracy, one man’s vote still matters. That is a good thing.

It means the makcik selling karipap at the street corner, the estate-dwelling plantation worker, the 9 to 5 civil servant as well as the mechanic who repairs my car now knowthat they can have a hand in shaping the destiny of this nation.

This we arrived at because of the past decade’s  democratisation of information. Because of the Internet. Because the people are hearing news and views they were hitherto unexposed to.

Information can make you think, and the more info you have, the better able you are to make decisions that benefit you, or your cause. And that is a wonderful thing. Cos it empowers you, the common man.

There are fears that increased discourse on things formerly considered taboo, like rights, privileges, race relations and religious intolerance, could give rise to anarchy.

But let me tell you this. I think the Malaysian society at large is growing up. If not, the Ibrahim Alis, the Siti Inshah’s, the Namewees and the Nasir Safars of this world could have provoked you into attacking your neighbour.

We don’t do that. Because at heart, we are sane, decent people who subscribe to the basic tenets of justice, fairness and equity. And thank God for this.

In the last week, our country has been rocked by a particularly vicious quadruple murder that brings back sordid reminders of gruesome crimes such as Bakaruddin Busu, Canny Ong and Altantuya Shariibuu.

The brutal killing of cosmetics magnate Sosilawati Lawiya, her driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, her lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim and CIMB Bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad is not something likely to forgotten for a while.

The suspects are in custody now as police continue to gather more and more incriminating evidence against the alleged killers. I say alleged because the two lawyers are yet to be tried and convicted.

The horror, disgust, furious anger and sadness of the public is understandable. Even I found myself unable to sleep after reading of the grisly murder.

But what disturbs me is the increasing racial-slurs leveled just because the suspects happen to be Indian. “Bangsa bangsat” and “keling pembunuh” are just some of the epithets I’ve seen so far.

Never mind that the alleged killers are also suspected of killing other Indian victims. It is quite obvious that in the case of Sosilawati, the motive was money.

So why this racial profiling? Murderers are murderers. They exist in all shapes and sizes, races and religion and from all kinds of backgrounds.

For those who are quick to bring up the racial card, let me remind you of the Canny Ong kidnap/murder, the C4 killing of Altantuya Shariibuu and way back in the 90s, the slaughter of  Batu Talam assemblyman Datuk Mazlan Idris. Who were convicted?

I think at this point we should let the law deal with the suspects and let this be a lesson to the police not to take any missing persons report lightly.

Let justice not only be done, but be seen to be done. Only that will bring a measure of solace to the grief-stricken families of the 4 victims.

Let the rest of us Malaysians pray that justice prevails. Let us close our eyes to narrow parochial ideas, and open them to more inclusive fair ideas.

Let us throw our mutual suspicion and distrust away, because we cannot afford to live like this anymore. Those tired cliches have no place in the future Malaysia, and its time we all recognise that.

Happy Malaysia Day!