The Indonesian workers in Malaysia have left their homes and made sacrifices, to improve the lives of their families. They cook, clean and care for our children and aged parents. They man our shops, run our market stalls and provide cheap labour in factories and construction sites. They guard our business premises and gated communities, and they are not averse to working in the plantations.
The workers form the backbone of many of our industries and some claim they depress our wages and ‘take’ our jobs, because they are willing to work hard for less money.
If they decided to down tools, a working Malaysian mother might be forced to stay at home. Many industries and businesses would reach for the panic button, and foreign investment would wane.
Our government wants to prevent the Indonesian government from restricting the flow of workers to Malaysia. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was right to be concerned.
The alleged gang-rape of the Indonesian woman by Malaysian policemen is a new low in Malaysian society, but why are the pro-Umno and extremist NGOs, as well as the Muslim ulamas, silent in the condemnation of this crime?
In most civilised countries, groups of people would be showing solidarity with the victim and peaceful protests would be organised.
Angry Indonesians have demonstrated outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, but few Malaysians have signalled their abhorrence of the crime or lack of confidence in the authorities.
Our cabinet places great importance on image and it would shock them if both Malaysians and Indonesians should march through Kuala Lumpur, assemble in front of Bukit Aman or the home minister’s office and demand the resignations of both the inspector-general of police (IGP) and the home minister.
The impact of such protests, if these were also organised outside Malaysian high commissions or embassies in cities around the world, would strike fear in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Are these NGOs silent because the rape involves a migrant worker? Are they in shock because bumiputeras were responsible and so, shattered the myth of Ketuanan Melayu?
The response of Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to the allegations has been a pathetic “What else can we do....?”
Hishammuddin’s (left in photo) remark shows the simplicity of the workings of his mind. That he does not understand the severity of the situation is without doubt. That he feels he is not responsible for the conduct of the police force is also indisputable. That he has been promoted well beyond his capabilities is obvious. Hishammuddin appears to have clung onto the literal meaning of “Home” minister and not realise the enormity of his portfolio.
Despite repeated calls for his resignation, Hishammuddin says that he will not be removed as minister. The CIA director David Petraeus resigned over an affair. The BBC director-general, George Entwistle, resigned over shoddy journalistic work. Hishammuddin’s intransigence renders meaningless the prime minister’s slogan,“People First, Performance Now”.
Ever anxious to stamp his mark in the international arena, Najib, who is currently in Phnom Penh for the 21st Asean summit conference, has left instructions that an emergency motion be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat to condemn the attack by the Israelis on the Palestinians in Gaza.
Najib appears to focus more on foreign affairs and neglects what is happening at home. To date, he has not condemned the police gang-rape. Presumably, he left that task to the women, family and community development minister. Perhaps, he has forgotten that he is the de facto women’s minister.
Former women’s minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (right), infamous for her role in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, in which her family fraudulently used RM250 million of taxpayer’s money, said: “As Wanita BN, we view the issue of violence against women very seriously, and we would like the police to expedite investigations (regarding violence against women) and leave no stone unturned”.
She also said, “All forms of violence against women are totally unacceptable in this country, and we must give the correct signal.”
Shahrizat has certainly given the wrong signals. When the Penan women were raped in 2008, her ministry dragged their feet in the investigation. Why did she not show similar vigour to defend the Penan women and seek justice for them? Is she trying to portray herself in a good light, in the run-up to the 13th general election (GE13)?
If Shahrizat believes in the “correct signals”, does Najib’s silence show his lack of sensitivity to women’s issues? Shahrizat did not resign as a minister, nor was she dismissed; she left after her term as senator expired. Is this another sign of Najib’s weakness as a leader?
Last August, Hishammuddin said he would review programmes such as Rakan Cop, MyDistress, Talian Nur, Rukun Tetangga and the Voluntary Patrolling Scheme, to eliminate the ineffective ones in tackling crime. He also criticised the public for their lack of cooperation in fighting crime.
Procedures have to be reviewed
Has anyone told Hishammuddin that policing in Malaysia is flawed and that police procedures have to be reviewed?
In the recent rape case, we have ignored other pertinent details. Why was the taxi-driver handcuffed? What was his crime? Were procedures with respect to arrest and questioning adhered to? Why are interrogation rooms not visible to other policemen? Too many deaths in police custody have happened. How many other rapes involving policemen go unreported? What process is available for “good” cops to report on bad practices without jeopardising their careers?
Will we ever see the photos of the three policemen who allegedly raped the Indonesian woman, or will their faces be kept hidden from the rakyat, like the other policemen who were ordered to murder Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu?
Hishammuddin ducks questions about the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), police morale and indiscipline. Najib only appears when there are new slogans and initiatives to announce, or when election freebies are distributed. When problems arise, he scuttles off to some faraway place.
Will this rape investigation be swept under the carpet or will it gain momentum?
When the country is hit by bad news, Umno will manufacture another story, to distract us. Let us see in the days to come, how creative Umno is. The thrust of the rape issue now is that heads must roll. The rakyat must not let the matter rest