Wednesday, 31 March 2010

KTMB proposes women only passenger car

The last Malaysian train I rode in was 30 years ago, and it was slow, I mean really slow. But it suited my purpose; I was young with plenty of time on my hands. I recalled climbing on to a train at the Kuala Lumpur train station at 9.30 pm and arriving at Butterworth 7.00 in the morning. Presumably Malaysian trains are more comfortable and much faster now. But what is this thing about KTMB proposing women only passenger car? Why the segregation? Is it one of those things again: separate swimming pool for women, separate payment counter for women in a supermarket, separate classrooms for girls...etc, etc? But it is not women only passenger car, families and senior citizens will be given separate cars. According to KTMB, it is for the 'keselesaan' or comfort. of woman commuters. So I guess women are more comfortable sitting among themselves, rather than with strangers of the opposite sex. But could there be another unstated reason? Could it be that chikan has become common on Malaysian trains? If that is the case, by all means have separate coaches for women to prevent sexual harassment. The problem as I see it would be that if there were more men than women on a particular day, the men would be packed like sardines in the men's only coaches. What if a lady prefers to be with her man friend? Would they be separated?

The Tun and his not so strange bedfellows

It seems our most respected elder statesman has lately missed the limelight so sorely that he has deemed fit to pitch whatever remaining influence he has behind the newly formed right-wing Malay group, PERKASA whose overriding objective is to continue to press for the retention of the NEP, demanding that the target of 30% of the economic pie should in fact be increased to more than 60% to reflect the racial composition.

His declared reason is that UMNO has become a toothless tiger to defend Malay rights and privileges. Yet 9 years ago he was castigating the Malays for continuing to depend on the government for handouts: "How much longer must the Malays depend on the government and the privileges accorded to them? How much longer must they remain mediocre?".

This is what he said 9 years ago:

Lim Kit Siang said Mahathir has come full circle, from an ultra back to an ultra, and that is the greatest tragedy.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

20 Years Without Water and Electricity

This is how the government treats the orang asli. Is it so difficult to provide even the most basic amenities to them? Yet, recently a government official in an international seminar trumpeted that Malaysia treats her indigenous people the best. The Bernama report below shows how well they are taken care of from 'womb to grave', as the official proudly put it.

Mar 29, 10 6:56pm

For over 20 years, 30 Orang Asli families residing in the Kampung Pelam Hardcore Poor Housing Project, near Rompin in Pahang, have lived without electricity and clean water supply.

The village chief, Husin Dagang, said the residents had to purchase a generator and depend on rain and well water to carry out daily activities such as cooking, bathing and cleaning.

Husin, 50, said each family spent RM500 on diesel to run the generators and those who could not afford one would live in darkness.

"We have to spend part of our income on the generator, but we don't have the academic qualifications and only work in the village so we can't afford to fork out this much money," he said when met here.

He said the villagers had voiced out their woes to local leaders, but had yet to see any action taken to provide the basic facilities.

"When we ask the local leaders they say water and electricity will be available soon, but the matter has yet to be resolved," he said.

A villager, Halim Abas, 38, said the lack of basic facilities caused residents to experience stomach-ache and vomitting because they had to share well water and use rain water.

Having no electricity made it difficult for the children to revise their studies at night as they only had oil lamps, he added.

"We hope the government will do something soon to overcome this problem as the residents cannot wait much longer," he said.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Batu Pahat River Hawker Centre

It has been ages since I ate at the river side hawker centre, and that too was due to an invitation from a Singapore friend who loves the congested centre. Apart from the many dishes we ordered, I found these few to be palatable.

Clams fried with curry powder

Fried osyters with eggs; the oysters seem to be getting smaller and smaller

The 'jiu he eng chai', still as good as ever

"Malaysia Best in Handling Indigenous people's Rights"

....said the Malaysian government representative, Datuk Dr. Marcus Mojigoh at today's Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on Environment and Development. His claim which came at the back of the recent historic protest by 2000 orang asli at Putrajaya, the administrative capital of the country and a doctor's public disclosure of malpractices and misappropriation of resources at a orang asli hospital must have raised not a few participants' eyebrows. According to Dr. Mojigoh, the orang asli must be a contented lot as the government has cared for them from 'womb to grave'. The reality of this marginalized people, numbering only 141,230 is far from the rosy picture he has painted. Perhaps he should have claimed that in the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia is the least worst country in handling her indigenous people.

Some statistics:
  • (2004) while the national poverty rate is 6.5%, that of the orang asli is 76.9%,
  • (2003) while the national hardcore poor rate is 1.4% that of the orang asli is 35.2%,
  • (2003) they make up 53.6% of recorded Malaria cases,
  • (2002) 19.63% of the population has leprosy,
  • vast majority of orang asli children are undernourished and stunted,
  • although more and more orang asli children are enrolled in primary and secondary schools, the dropout rate is high; for instance for every 100 orang asli children entering Primary 1, only 6 will be expected to reach Form 5.
And the list goes on. Below are some excerpts from papers highlighting the plight of the orang asli:

Not only are they the most marginalized, they are also facing the spectre of losing their claims on their ancestral lands. Their way of life has also been threatened by a government bent on converting them:

Read here for further anecdotal account.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

More Photos of Orang Asli Protest

Reading through some of the documents found at the website, Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, I felt that the Orang Asli are but one of the many instances which have shown that the present government cannot be trusted. For 52 years, the Orang Asal have been treated rather shabbily by the government which is supposed to protect their interest. The government has reneged on its promise to gazette their ancestral lands so that they could continue to live the way they prefer; instead it has converted some of these lands as government reserve lands for development. Invariably, some of these lands have been leased out to oil palm and timber tycoons.

Photos from Center of Orang Asli Concerns

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Are Orang Asli Bumiputras?

Yesterday, more than two thousand orang asli (some would prefer to call them orang asal), complete with their traditional gear converged on Putrajaya to protest against a new land policy which seems to shortchange them and demand recognition of their rights to their ancestral lands. Under the policy each family is to be given 2.4ha for agriculture and 0.1ha to build their houses. Prior to this protest, a Gombak orang asli hospital doctor who went public with her allegations of mismanagement and cronyism at the hospital was prevented from carrying out her duties and was later transferred out of the hospital. Coincidentally, after her transfer, the hospital director was also removed from the hospital.

Are the orang asli bumiputras? The constitution seems ambiguous on their status. Some would argue that it includes the orang asli in the peninsula (the defacto Law Minister for instance) while others contend that bumiputras refer specifically to Muslim Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. The interpretation of 'bumiputra' by various public institutions seems to exclude the orang asal. For instance, the Higher Education Ministry defines a bumiputra as:
  • in Peninsular Malaysia, if one of the parents is a Muslim Malay the child is a bumiputra,
  • in Sabah, if the father is a Muslim Malay or an indigenous native, his child is a bumiputra,
  • in Sarawak, if both parents are indigenous natives, their child is a bumiputra.
Where do the orang asli fit in? It seems that they have forgotten about the orang asal, the presumption being few if any would make it to colleges or universities. So what's the big deal?

The upshot of of this is that even the marginalized orang asal who have been suffering in abject silence have for once decided to stand up for their rights. Were they emboldened by the recent success of their counterparts in Sarawak who were successful in legally wrestling back their land from the Sarawak State government?

Read here and here for more.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Stolen Jet Engines

I was googling the net for Malaysian cartoons to relieve the frustration that I have been feeling over the problems afflicting the country when I came across these cartoons about our stolen jet engines which landed in Uruguay. Stealing from the government seems easier than stealing from your own mother.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Jack Neo's Kiss-and-tell episode

The recent sex scandal that hit Singapura island must have created a tsunami of sexcitement in the tiny island. It engulfed none other than the famous film director Jack Neo whose comedies and TV series have consistently poked fun at Singapore's moral's fibre and government policies. Now it is his turn, unfortunately, to feel the heat. He, however is spared the embarrassment of having his sexual romps recorded on tapes unlike an unfortunate ex-minister.

On February 28, not on the scale of Tiger Woods of course, another little known victim is the head of a China tobacco company whose personal diary of his sexcapades was published on line by his lover's husband (in a fit of jealousy?), though I wonder how the husband got his hand on the diary if not with the collusion of his wife. Or may be from other enraged lovers of the government official? In China, netizens have used the net to devastating effect to expose corruption and abuse of power by party and government officials.

Read more of the posting here. The latest report said that he was sacked and arrested for corruption after the online revelation of his sexual exploits as well as accepting bribes.