More Than Nayati, and Unpatriotic Irene Fernandez?
Writer: Lord Bobo
Published: Fri, 11 May 2012
Lord Bobo, it’s such a relief that Nayati Moodliar was found, but is it only children of a certain background, or who can trigger a media campaign that will be found? (Praying For The Lost, via email)
Sadly, the interlinked issues of kidnapping and human trafficking are very real in Malaysia. For reasons best known to themselves, the Malaysian media have not been painting an accurate picture of how widespread this problem is.
The fact is, Malaysia, and many areas within the Klang Valley, are notorious international hotspots for abductions and trafficking of humans.
For every successful “recovery”, there are hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults who go missing from our streets, schools, and shopping malls. It is not easy for the police to resolve this issue, as these are not fly-by-night opportunists. These are international syndicates who help oil a machine that spins millions and millions of dollars.
Lord Bobo is greatly relieved that Nayati was found, and shares in the joy of his family and friends. But spare a thought for the many nameless and faceless children who have been, and continue to be, snatched off our streets.
Hopefully the authorities and the media will start to play their role in raising awareness and shining a light onto this dark underbelly that exists in our country.
Do you think Irene Fernandez is unpatriotic? I hate it when Malaysians badmouth their own country overseas – why couldn’t she have engaged in a dialogue within the country? We have enough issues with Indonesia as it is. (Proud Malaysian, via email)
The headline of The Star on Tuesday was quite sensational: “Irene fans the fire”. Lord Bobo has little time for newspapers, let alone Malaysian newspapers – a natural result of being omniscient obviously – but His Supreme Eminenceness does scan the headlines once in a while to see how stories are being presented to the public.
Irene Fernandez is the executive director of Tenaganita, which provides legal assistance to Indonesian migrant workers. In an interview with the Jakarta Post, she was perhaps a little more truthful than the Malaysian authorities would have liked. One of the things she pointed out was that the Malaysian government has no legal framework or specific law to protect these workers.
She also said that plantation workers in particular were openly discriminated against and are made to work in unhealthy conditions.
Several people lined up to criticise Irene Fernandez for her interview. Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan said her remarks were unethical, inaccurate and unpatriotic. The Malaysian Maid Employers Association and Association of Foreign Maid Agencies remarked that her statements were unfair and a gross generalisation.
To her credit, Irene Fernandez did what most people would not have done in the face of such open and harsh criticism. When questioned about her interview, she confirmed that the Jakarta Post had quoted her correctly, and she firmly stood by what she had said.
Patriotism is a strange thing. But in recent years, many have been keen to label others as “unpatriotic”. Lord Bobo does not think Irene Fernandez was being unpatriotic. She was telling it as it is.
As for engaging in a dialogue within the country, do you really think that Tenaganita has been doing nothing all these years?
There has been a painful, long, and seemingly unending effort for reform.
The tone of the mainstream media’s reporting of this seems to be “how unreasonable of Irene Fernandez, when we’re all waiting for our maids!”. Needless to say, this seems rather immature and selfish. But we suppose that’s what resonates with most readers, unfortunately.
It shouldn’t take a genius, or a hyper-intelligent monkey who exists solely in cyberspace, to conclude that justice and human rights should surely be more important than having someone to wash your clothes, cook your dinner, and care for your children. Surely.