Falling dominoes: Terminated, resigned, suspended, sacked

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Artist's impression of a proposed workers village in Bukit Minyak - Graphic: Westlite

Can we not hold those holding positions of power in the new Malaysia answerable to the same code of conduct we expect of people of all ranks abroad, wonders Mary Chin.

It all started with the game-over at 4.40am on 10 May 2018, when Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 general election.

Najib took the lead in the falling dominoes that followed:

Malaysia is not alone. Elsewhere, many were terminated, suspended and fired all around the world:

The list shows how, regardless of their capacity (whether waitress or professor), no matter how great their contributions to their respective organisations were, they could lose their entire career by a single discriminatory remark.

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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 covered local developments. The second covered 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 Executive Council Member for Local Government, Housing, Town and City Planning (only one link will be provided as an example, as there are too many):

(complaints about) foreign workers roaming around in their underwear: This was Jagdeep’s public comment, not even a casual or passing remark over lunch.

FMT published this without censoring (if that’s how Malaysians understand and fight for press freedom and free speech – oh well, oh well). FMT could have pointed out that the statement was unbecoming, that Jagdeep’s interjection was a sweeping generalisation, 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, as correct and proper – without thinking.

biometric system to monitor the workers’ movements: Can we bio-tag somebody and monitor or restrict his/her movement when he/she is without a criminal, leprosy or psychiatric record? Should the migrant worker who scaled a building in Singapore like Spiderman to save a baby hanging from the balcony have been ‘monitored’?

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“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.

Back in 2016, the deputy police chief, 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. Pass it to someone who can fulfil the responsibility of the housing portfolio by providing housing for those who need it (not taint the portfolio by throwing families out of existing homes).

In a civilised society, the statement about undergarments alone could have been political suicide; the person uttering such a remark could have lost his or her entire career. But here is Jagdeep, ever powerful and arrogant, spared from 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 was over-the-top with thoughts, deeds and words.

For four months, I stood watch over a construction site with over a hundred migrant workers, who sometimes work past midnight. I watched them starting out in the morning – breaking for coffee, lunch and tea as soon as the clock ticked – and then signing off work, cleaning up, managing laundry, sometimes nailing stray pieces of wood together to make simple pieces of furniture to answer the practical needs of their community. They wear long sleeves and long trousers whilst at work; off work, they change into sarong. What is Jagdeep seeing?

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(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 those in positions of power answerable to the same 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 the University of Leeds, the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania?

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Mary Chin
Dr Mary PW Chin, an Aliran member, is an independent scientist who spends her time between Canada and Malaysia. A medical, radiation and computational research physicist by profession, she previously served in the UK and at CERN, a leading centre for scientific research.

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Sorry Mary u cannot compare situation in Malaysia to that of us & western countries, we r a developing country not in the same league as them in all sense of the word development. It took hundreds of yrs for them to arrive where they r now, we have been in existence as a nation for how long?