Mariam Mokhtar
Sep 5, 11

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It was bound to happen sooner or later; the arrogance of Umno's leaders and their lack of accountability are emulated by many, with the result that people do as they please and behave like they are above the law.

This overbearing attitude has now been adopted by government institutions. Last month, officers of the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) told two women that the law did not apply to those in the MCMC.

The shocking encounter for theSuara Keadilanphotographer Yusriah Yusof (left in photo)and her lawyer, the Liberty for Lawyers advocate, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, represents the new breed of government official.

Yusriah had been summoned to the MCMC headquarters to assist in the investigations concerning the Bersih 2.0 rally. She had to answer questions about her photograph of Anwar Ibrahim's bodyguard, Fayyadh Afiq Albakqry who needed surgery to treat his injuries.

There had been numerous complaints from Bersih 2.0 supporters and observers about police brutality. Pictures of the injured Fayyadh had gone viral and gave credence to the heavy-handed tactics of the police force and how the government had badly managed the event.

The line of questioning that Yusriah was subjected to, was perhaps a retaliatory gesture for the media reports on police abuses.

Fadiah said: “This is the kind of intimidation and harassment that is not going to stop... they are trying to suppress facts and truth over what is happening in Malaysia.”

According to her, a group of MCMC officers conducting the investigation refused to give their names or to divulge who the complainant was, and did not say what the inquiry was about.

The intimidation tactics started before the official interview. The investigating officer (IO) initially barred Fadiah from accompanying her client and had told her that lawyers are not allowed to be present during the questioning.

Fadiah said that, under the federal constitution, her client has the right to have her lawyer present and that the police are also obliged to release reports to lawyers.

The IO sniggered and said: “That is the police, we are MCMC.”

Fadiah eventually accompanied her client but was then asked to make a statement.

She said: “I refused and told him that I am merely accompanying my client and I'm not the party under investigation.”

An argument ensued between the lawyer and the MCMC officers who were dressed in baju Melayu, complete with samping. One shouted, “….you're a Malay, right? you're a Muslim, right?… stop asking questions!”

Despite Fadiah telling them not to involve religion but to respect the law, he told her that this was his office and he didn't want to talk about the law.

Anecdotal evidence

What Yusriah and Fadiah experienced will strike a chord with many Malay/Muslim women. At some point in their lives, they will have been at the receiving end of what can only be termed, the ugly Malay man.

Some years ago, one Malay woman whose child was at a newly formed International School in a northern state, wanted to complain about the teaching and the school curriculum.

At that time, there was no parent-teacher association. And although the parents, including expatriates, had similar problems, issues could only be addressed by meeting the principal.

Every point this mother made was met with denial. When the principal ran out of excuses, the Education Department retiree told the parent: “As a Malay and a Muslim, you have no right to question me. God knows. And He will punish you in hell. Mark my words”. He refused further discussion and stormed out of his office.

In another incident, a Malay woman grew tired of complaining to the police or the Syariah department about her abusive husband. The former said that they could not intervene in domestic violence cases, whilst the latter told her that if her injuries were not visible, they couldn't help.

The woman did not want to run to her mother's house because her husband would drag her home and beat her for disobedience and for escaping.

One day, after being repeatedly punched and suffering further mental anguish, she took refuge in a shelter for women, run by a charity of a different faith.

Her husband traced her there, phoned the person in charge and told her: “Do not interfere in the affairs of our people. You have no right to help her. We can look after our own kind. If you do not release her, we will come and surround your shelter…..” His warning came with other threats.

This is the ugly Malay man at his worst. He knows no limits. He has no qualms about hurting others, as long as everyone listens to him. He knows he can carry on with impunity because other Malays will not censure him. Besides, law enforcement is poor.

A different species

But harassment is not limited to individuals.

In September 2009, there was a meeting in the community to discuss relocation of a temple. TheMalaysiakini video clip was headlined 'Commotion erupts at temple relocation dialogue'.

The tribal, ugly Malay men are a different species altogether. They shout, scream and shove their way in. They want their opinions to be heard yet give no one the chance, to speak up. They know no bounds.

At 5.48 minutes into the video, a Malay man with a pony tail, dressed in a black T-shirt, removes a chair just as an Indian man was about to sit down. The ugly Malay man plays dirty and is not ashamed.

These men - the thug at the temple relocation meeting who did not mind causing injury, or the MCMC officers, or the school principal and the abusive husband - are ugly Malays.

The ugly Malay man has no moral scruples, no compassion and no integrity. He has little respect for women and probably none for other races and religion. In reality he has little self-respect; just a lot of bluster.

When stuck for words, he will preach and patronise. He makes a mockery of the religion by swearing on the Quran, whilst lying through his teeth. He teaches our young nothing about responsibility, self-respect and respect for others.

When it suits him, he will use emotional blackmail or cower others into submission by using Islam as the driving force.

He craves respect but offers none.

Perhaps, some Malay men take their cue from our leaders, who are poor role models in life. Many of them are corrupt and are guilty of serious crimes, but few are punished.

Not all Malays or Malay men are like the ugly Malay. Embracing modernisation and technology cannot have been the corrupting influences. What has happened to adat Melayu or sopan-santun? What has happened to our values?

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In 'real-speak', this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.