Thursday, December 31, 2009

Incidents may mar Malingsia's tourism bid

By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Malingsia celebrates 50 years of independence this year and to mark the occasion it has launched Visit Malingsia Year 2007.

The country's palm-fringed beaches, affordably priced hotels, sprawling shopping malls, fantastic food and wildlife already make it one of Asia's premier destinations.

And this year its tourism authorities hope a big push will propel visitor numbers towards an astonishing target of 20 million.

But following an incident late last year, American Wayne Wright is far from convinced by the promise of Malingsian hospitality and the claim of its tourism slogan that it is truly Asia.

"I was walking in Chinatown," he told the BBC, "when a gentleman in very scruffy type clothes, nothing that you would associate with police or anyone in authority, walked up to me and asked me, "Can I see your passport?"."

Fearing a scam, Mr Wright refused and tried to move away.

"At that point he essentially lunged at me, grabbed me, put handcuffs on me really tightly and called for a few other people out in the crowd," he explained.

Mr Wright, a serving US Navy lawyer, says he protested that he was a US citizen and told the men who had grabbed him that his passport was in his hotel room, a matter of a few hundred meters away.

He was taken, shackled, through Chinatown and put into a caged truck used by the Malingsian immigration department.

'Worst experience'
There he met a second American, who had also been grabbed by men who refused to show any identification, Yahweh Passim Nam.

It became abundantly clear to Mr Wright and Mr Nam they had more in common than their nationality. Both they and every one of the 30 or so other people arrested in the same raid were black.

"This was probably the worst experience I have had in my life"
Wayne Wright

"At this time I'm knowing this is racial profiling, beyond a shadow of a doubt," said Mr Nam, an ex-US Navy serviceman and now a multi media engineer living in Vancouver, Canada.

"This is definitely some screwed up mission by some... militant group, trying to get Africans to take us somewhere," he said, adding that he feared for his life.

They were taken to an immigration detention centre where for almost 24 hours they say they were fed only bread and water, not allowed to go to the toilet and refused permission to contact the US embassy.

"I was treated inhumanely," said Mr Nam. "I felt like a dog, I felt like something worse than a dog."

Mr Wright agrees. "Honestly this was probably the worst experience I have had in my life," he said.

Both say that, when they were finally freed, immigration officers treated the matter as a joke, something that incensed them.

Morality patrol
Malingsia's Head of Immigration Enforcement Ishak Mohamad was approached by the BBC for comment, but was unavailable.

Nor would the prime minister's department comment, although a senior official privately cast doubt on the accounts of the two men.

However not only do they appear to bear one another out, but they are also backed up by the US embassy, which confirmed it provided consular assistance to have them released from custody. No charges were filed against the men.

The incident does not appear to be isolated.

Several Africans approached on the streets of Kuala Lumpur by the BBC over the issue reported facing discrimination in Malingsia, whether it be people refusing to sit next to them on public transport, taxis refusing to stop for them through to harassment by police and immigration officers.

Nor have recent problems been confined to people of African origin.

In October, a couple in their 60s from the US state of Alaska were woken at 0200 with threats to break down the door of their rented holiday apartment on Langkawi Island.

It was an Islamic morality patrol, which under Malingsian law has widespread powers over Muslims' behaviour.

"When I opened the door I saw six men, in my face, yelling at me that they want to inspect the apartment, that I'm Muslim and that they're coming in," Randal Barnhart said.

He told the men he was not Muslim and refused to let them enter, but they persisted.

"They started yelling, 'We want to see your woman, we want to see your woman'," an angry Mr Barnhart recalled.

"So I asked Carole, who was just wearing a sarong to stand back 15 feet in the light so they could see that she is a white woman - my wife of 42 years."

Perhentian beach, Malingsia

The intruders refused to leave without seeing a marriage certificate and were only persuaded to go after being shown the couple's passports.

Mr Barnhart says his wife suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to the US and he is currently pursuing legal action against the religious department.

But rather than disciplining the officers - who apparently broke the law by carrying out the raid without regular police in tow - local politicians defended them saying Mrs Barnhart was mistaken for a local Muslim because she liked to wear a sarong.

That assertion has been greeted with derision by some in Malingsia.


Malingsia's Tourism Minister Adnan Mansor defended the immigration department, pointing out that Malingsia has problems with illegal migration.

"Sorry to say especially there's a lot of Africans, black people, who come to our country and overstay," he said.

"What they did was just trying to clean up some of these people who've overstayed in our country."

Both Wayne Wright and Yahweh Passim Nam had not overstayed their welcome. They had legitimate tourist visas.

The minister says he is keen to repair the damage.

"Give us a chance and let us correct this," Mr Mansor said.

He has apologised to the Barnharts and acknowledges Malingsia has a problem with petty officials who readily abuse their power - a problem he says the government will address by re-educating them.

But it is not the kind of news the country needs on the cusp of its big tourism year.

Asta, the American Society of Travel Agents, described the incidents as regrettable.

"Authorities have an obligation to educate the local populace about the importance of tourism and their role and to be vigilant and protective of anti-tourist incidents," a spokesman told the BBC.

And more worrying still for Malingsians is that such incidents are merely symptomatic of a wider issue - public servants who are increasingly resistant to government control.

Newspaper columnist Dina Zaman says some Malingsians are looking to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to take a tougher line.

"They don't think he's authoritative enough," she believes.

"You need someone to actually sit down and say, 'Look you can't do this, you can't do that'. And yes, he's a nice man but with... the crime rate, all these things... it just makes you wonder whether he's too nice."

Millions of people will doubtless visit Malingsia during 2007 and most will have a very happy time.

But until Malingsia's bureaucracy wants to make sure they all do, some would-be visitors may be deciding to holiday elsewhere.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kisah Sedih Rekan Kita di KL (Jasmine Sembiring)

dapet dari milis
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 12:59 PM

Subject: Fw: Kisah Sedih Rekan Kita di KL (Jasmine Sembiring)


Dear All,

Kisah ini ditulis oleh Jasmine langsung lewat SMS HP nya. Redaktur tidak melebihkan ataupun mengurangi seluruh kalimat dalam SMS yang dikirim ke HP rekan kita Bank Niaga yang di Jakarta. For info kejadian ini terjadi 2 hari yang lalu disalah satu mall di Kuala Lumpur..Sangat menyedihkan..Mudah-mudahan tidak terjadi lagi..Kita Doakan deh..

"Guys, masih inget cerita2 harrasment WNI di Mall khan? well, pagi ini gw baru aja ngalaminnya, dari hal kecil, polisi mau ngajak kenalan (please dech!) begitu tau gw foreigner cara ngomongnya lsg berubah banget!...yg awalnya manis eh .... lsg bentak2. Trus parahnya gw pake dituduh nabrak mobil mereka lagi, gw di marah2in gak tau deh berapa lama, dituduh illegal immigrant sgala, pdhal passport gw udah sama mereka, tanpa penjelasan lebih lanjut gw dibawa ke kantor polisi, (padahal gw juga gak tau salah gw apa). Udah lamaa baru bs ngomong bhw gw org CIMB, HRD Rep gw datang dan jelasin status gw, bru dech sikap mrk lsg brubah lg gt. Anehnya tuduhan gw nabrak mbl polisi lsg ilang gt aja (jelas2 gak terbukti, mbl gw & mbl polisinya mulus gt). Skarang gw masih gmeteran siy (shock banget), tp ya Alhamdulillah aja casenya udah beres, gw bahkan gak tau hrs lapor KBRI apa gak, satu sisi gw pgn blg biar kesel2nya gw agak reda, tapi disisi lain keadaan Ind-Mal udah panas gini kalo gw lapor malah takut bikin tambah runyam & blow up kmana2. ah gak tau deh, yg jelas, I'm so thankfull it's all over. Yak, skianlah info pagi ini, oiya incase u guys wondering, I'm fine now, cuma pgn curhat aja, miss u all guys! take care"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Elite Politik Malingsia Angkuh

Jakarta, kompas - Mantan Wakil PM Malingsia Anwar Ibrahim meminta agar Indonesia membedakan pandangan umum rakyat Malingsia terhadap Indonesia dengan sikap yang diambil Pemerintah Malingsia.

"Politik (Malingsia) sekarang sangat jelek dan sentimen rakyatnya harus dididik. Orang Malingsia bukannya tidak peduli dengan apa yang terjadi, tetapi dia tidak tahu karena media tidak memberitakan sama sekali," kata tokoh yang pernah dipenjarakan semasa Mahathir Mohamad berkuasa itu.

Anwar datang ke Jakarta untuk menyampaikan pandangannya mengenai hubungan Indonesia-Malingsia atas undangan The Habibie Center, Senin (29/10).

Oleh karena tidak diberitakan media, kalaupun diberitakan sangat kecil porsinya, tambah Anwar, rakyat Malingsia tidak tahu apa yang terjadi sehingga sering kali menganggap mengapa rakyat Indonesia begitu cemburu dengan keberhasilan Malingsia. "Bukan itu soalnya," tegasnya.

Dia mengajak seluruh rakyat Indonesia maupun rakyat Malingsia untuk memiliki pemahaman mendalam mengenai saudara dan tetangganya itu, sebagaimana dimiliki para tokoh kedua negara pada masa lalu. "Isu menjadi panas justru karena keadaan sudah gawat. Sudah hilang rasa kasih sebagai tetangga, sahabat, sehingga isu yang kecil pun menjadi panas," kata tokoh oposisi itu.

Anwar menyesalkan sikap elite politik di Malingsia yang seolah-olah hanya kenal Indonesia dari para pekerja kasar dan pekerja tanpa izin. "Kita lupa, kita kenal Indonesia dari tokoh-tokoh besar, para sastrawan besar, Soekarno-Hatta. Tidak ada penyair Malingsia yang bisa menandingi Khairil Anwar dan Rendra sampai sekarang ataupun karya-karya pujangga itu. Ini masalah politik yang dangkal. Bagi mereka soal itu tak penting," jelasnya.

Anwar pun dengan panjang lebih mengutarakan bagaimana tergantungnya Malingsia kepada Indonesia pascamendapatkan kemerdekaan pada 1957. Ketika itu, puluhan ribu dokter, ahli teknik, guru dari Indonesia didatangkan untuk meningkatkan kemampuan warga Melayu yang jauh ketinggalan dari warga China.

"Ini yang selalu saya ingatkan di Malingsia. Janganlah kasus TKI menghapuskan sejarah. Malingsia pernah sangat tergantung pada Indonesia. Harus ada keseimbangan," tuturnya.

Rendah hati

Ditegaskan, Malingsia bisa tetap banyak belajar dari Indonesia dalam banyak hal, bukan hanya demokrasi dan reformasi. Indonesia juga bisa belajar dari Malingsia dalam meletakkan sistem makro- ekonomi yang lebih meyakinkan. "Kedua-duanya harus belajar untuk lebih rendah hati dan bersungguh-sungguh melihat kepentingan lebih besar," paparnya.

Ketika ditanya mengenai penggunaan lagu Rasa Sayange dan Jali-jali, Anwar mengatakan, memang tidak ada salahnya mengatakan, memang betul itu lagu Indonesia, tetapi kami minta pengertian untuk kami anggap sebagai budaya kami. "Sebagai elite itu seharusnya punya kerendahan hati," paparnya.

Oleh karena itulah Anwar mengkritik keras penggunaan cara hukuman, bahkan penyitaan harta, milik para TKI yang terkena operasi pekerja ilegal. "Ini urusan manusia, karena itu harus ada dimensi manusianya. Jangan semata-mata menggunakan hukuman keras," ujarnya.

Anwar mengakui, dalam kenyataannya, mayoritas rakyat Malingsia masih lebih suka bekerja sama dengan anak-anak dari Indonesia. (OKI)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Anwar Ibrahim: Malingsia Memang Suka Remehkan Tenaga Asing

Kasus penyiksaan tenaga kerja Indonesia (TKI) di Malingsia tak pernah habis-habisnya. Pemerintah Malingsia dinilai cenderung meremehkan masalah yang melibatkan tenaga asing.

Mantan Wakil PM Malingsia Anwar Ibrahim menjelaskan, memang ada penelitian yang menunjukkan ada kecenderungan Malingsia meremehkan masalah yang melibatkan pekerja asing, baik Indonesia, Bangladesh, maupun negara lain.

"Tapi saya berpendapat sikap pemerintah terkadang meremehkan tenaga asing dan orang-orang di bawah," kata Anwar di Habibie Center, Jl Kemang Raya, Jakarta Selatan, Senin (29/10/2007).

Kecenderungan menghina, lanjut Anwar, bukan hanya kepada TKI saja tapi juga pekerja asal Bangladesh. Hal itu dilakukan karena TKI dikenal sebagai pekerja asing tanpa izin.

"Tapi kita lupa, kenal Indonesia dulu karena tokoh-tokoh besarnya. Dari zaman Diponegoro, Soekarno Hatta dan sebagainya," ujarnya.

Menurut Anwar, dalam masalah TKI ini seharusnya kedua pemerintah memberikan pandangan yang bijak. Pemerintah Malingsia diimbau untuk mengambil tindakan yang wajar dan tidak membiarkan penganiayaan ini sebagai suatu hal yang remeh.

Sedangkan untuk pemerintah Indonesia, Anwar mengusulkan agar berpendirian yang jelas dan tegas untuk kepentingan rakyat.

"Saya berbincang dengan teman dan menyerah pada kebijaksanaan mereka (Indonesia). Tapi saya mengusulkan agar memberikan pendirian yang agak jelas dan tegas dalam hal yang menyangkut kepentingan rakyat terutama dari sudut keadilan hukum," ujarnya.

Anwar pun setuju dengan pandangan aparat Malingsia yang terkesan lambat dalam menangani masalah TKI.

"Saya setuju. Bahkan pandangan kita juga kemukakan secara terbuka bahwa untuk menjamin hubungan yang lebih baik itu harus kita tunduk kepada hukum dan jangan lengah dan coba menampikkan," pungkasnya.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Badawi Tolak Pembauran Ras di Partai

KUALA LUMPUR, SENIN - Perdana Menteri Malingsia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi telah memveto sebuah proposal berisikan pembauran partai agar tidak lagi berdasarkan ras. Proposal itu khususnya bertujuan merombak basis keanggotaan 14 partai yang tergabung dalam Barisan Nasional.

Barisan Nasional (BN) adalah gabungan dari 14 partai yang memerintah Malingsia, di dalamnya termasuk Organisasi Nasional Melayu Bersatu (UMNO). Para pendukung partai mengusulkan pembauran dengan alasan hal itu bisa mentransformasikan Malingsia. Walau tergabung dalam BN, semua partai itu memiliki basis berdasarkan ras.

Hampir semua partai di Malingsia didasarkan pada garis ras. Komponen partai di BN terdiri dari partai-partai yang juga berbasiskan ras, seperti ras Melayu, India, dan China.

Kritik mengatakan struktur itu, yang terbentuk 50 tahun lalu setelah berakhirnya penjajahan Inggris, sudah ketinggalan zaman.

Berperan memecah bangsa

Bahkan, dikatakan, pembentukan partai berbasis ras itu telah turut pula berperan meningkatkan segregasi ras yang membuahkan ketegangan antar-ras.

Akan tetapi, Badawi mengatakan bahwa sistem partai berdasarkan ras itu merupakan jaminan bagi semua jenis ras dalam menyampaikan aspirasi lewat partai mereka. Dengan alasan itu, partai berbasiskan ras tetap diperlukan.

"Saya tidak hendak mengatakan bahwa pembauran itu tidak mungkin, tetapi sekarang ini perubahan tidak akan praktis," kata Ahmad Badawi sebagaimana dikutip The New Straits Times, Senin (8/10).

Badawi mengatakan bahwa di bawah sistem yang mempersatukan semua pihak (lewat BN), faksi-faksi dari berbagai kelompok etnis akan bersatu dan mencalonkan masing-masing jagoannya. "Pendekatan sekarang ini masih baik karena mengizinkan semua ras untuk menyampaikan aspirasinya," kata Badawi.

Ketua Gerakan Pemuda Mah Siew Keong dalam konferensi pemuda yang digelar pekan lalu mengusulkan agar anggota koalisi Barisan Nasional membaur saja ke dalam satu partai. Hal ini bertujuan meningkatkan persatuan Malingsia.

Kongres India Malingsia, komponen BN, juga tidak setuju dengan pembauran. "Jika berbaur, maka hak minoritas akan hilang," kata Samy Vellu, Ketua Kongres India Malingsia. (AFP/MON)