Last week, two very large sinkholes opened up along a very busy stretch of road in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. Construction work for a road tunnel had accidentally caused a burst water pipe and the escaping water led to the formation of the sinkholes.
Sadly, there’s been a lot of that sinking feeling here in Malaysia this year as we seem to be reeling from tragedy; political, racial and religious extremism; and many cases of “foot in mouth disease” by our leaders. In fact, if possible, we seem to be having a lot of “shooting oneself in the foot that also happens to be in the mouth” disease.
Here in no particular order is the TOP 10 Recent Reasons for Malaysians to have a Sinking Feeling.
- MH 370 – the missing Malaysian Airlines plane had the world’s attention on Malaysia for much of the beginning of the year and it is considered one of the greatest aviation mysteries. Where is the plane and what happened? Apart from the tragedy of lives lost, Malaysian officials came across as arrogant, insensitive, incompetent and contradictory. The handling of the matter and the treatment of the relatives of the victims has been terrible.
- Grabbing kids – in the last year, Islamic authorities have been involved in cases in which children, brides and even bodies have been snatched. In a number of cases, Muslim converts who had lost child custody cases in court went on to abduct their children from their Hindu mothers and despite the court ruling have been able to keep the children up to now.
- Grabbing brides – A Hindu wedding was raided by religious authorities and the bride was taken away in front of the groom and the 400 guests. Although born and raised as a Hindu, the authorities consider her a Muslim because her father, who had abandoned the family in 1990, had become a convert.
- Grabbing bodies- Last month, a family was grieving and holding a traditional Chinese funeral for their loved one. About twenty minutes into the ceremony, religious authorities interrupted the proceedings and took away the body claiming that the deceased had converted to Islam some 17 years earlier. As you can imagine, this came as a terrible surprise to all her family members.
- Groping bodies – A Malaysian diplomat and military officer, Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, claimed diplomatic immunity when charged in New Zealand for burglary and sexual assault with intent to commit rape. He had followed a 21 year old woman to her home from her bus stop, broken in, undressed and tried to assault her. She fought back and with the help of neighbors alerted by her screams, forced him to flee. Once again, the manner in which the authorities have handled the matter has been disgraceful. They flew him back to Malaysia and denied that they were protecting him until certain communications with the New Zealand government were leaked to the press. They also said that he would not be extradited but would be tried in Malaysia. Then, under pressure, they agreed to return him to New Zealand to face the charges. But now, the authorities claim that he is unwell and medically unfit for travel. Although, so far the only thing that has been said about his medical condition is that he “was not looking good”, withdrawn and depressed.
- “Break bone Fever” – The mosquito borne viral disease, dengue fever, is characterised by severe joint pains (hence “break bone”) and in severe cases, internal hemorrhaging. The number of cases and deaths have increased by about 250% from the previous year with about 40,000 cases and at least 80 deaths this year till now. I personally, know of 5 people who have been ill and a friend has attended two funerals. So apart, from dust from extensive construction going on in Kuala Lumpur and the suffocating haze from forest fires, I now am also unable to open my windwows for fear of the mosquitoes coming in.
- Dry taps – This year also saw the largest urban area in the country, with 2.5 million people, facing water rationing for over three months. Dry taps in a country with some of the highest rainfall in the world. Something is wrong with this picture.
- “The K9 problem” – The chairman of the commission on public transport had said in an interview that there would be no problem for guide dogs assisting the blind to be allowed on public transport. Apparently, he was wrong. The Deputy Minister for Transport said that city by-laws insist that dogs should be under the control of a capable owner (thereby implying that the blind are not capable) and went on to say that dogs would only be an inconvenience to the blind. Religious authorities than chipped in to say that guide dogs were inappropriate for a Muslim majority country as dogs are considered unclean in the religion. This seems like a strange statement considering that no such issue has been raised about the use of police dogs or security dogs.
- “Hell’s Kitchen” – This last couple of weeks has seen the authorities declare war on soup kitchens and the homeless. Apparently, they are the great evil that is damaging our society. The
Women, Family and Community Development Minister
Women, Family and Community Development Minister had implied that people are choosing to be homeless because they can get free food. She also said that tourists are also taking advantage of the soup kitchens and therefore not spending tourist dollar on meals. The Minister of the Federal Territories then proved that he was a man of action by banning all soup kitchens within 2 km of the city centre. He suggested that the homeless were lazy and giving “his” city a bad image. He also implied that building shelters for the homeless would make them complacent. He also said that if they were hungry, they could always travel out of the city centre to soup kitchens further out. Some soup kitchens plan to defy the ban and will face stiff fines for their defiance.
- The sky is falling! The ground is sinking! – the latest round of construction activity all around Kuala Lumpur for the Mass Rapid Transport or MRT train line has been causing all manners of problems but of greatest concern is the safety of the public. Large concrete and metal beams have now fallen on passing cars on at least two occasions. The cars were wrecked but miraculously, the occupants although requiring hospitalisation, escaped with their lives.
And of course, there was the big sinkholes that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
So how do Malaysians deal with all this gloom? ……..with a sense of humor. LGS proudly presents for your viewing pleasure a few examples of Malaysian netizen’s take on the sinkholes and WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?