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Why Malaysians are angry: A response to Wong Chun Wai

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In a recent comment piece in The Star, the paper’s Group Chief editor, Wong Choon Wai asked, “Can we stop being angry people and try to make sense of the issues affecting the nation?” Tan Seng Hai responds.

Wong Chun Wai - Photograph: chartnexus.com

This is in response to Wong Chun Wai’s ‘On the beat’ column (“Of Angry Birds and angry Malaysians”: The Sunday Star, 24 July 2011) where he asked Malaysians to stop being angry on the many issues affecting the nation.

It was a very well written piece, well placed and sounded almost logical and rational to those who read only the mainstream media.

Allow me to give Wong 10 good reasons why Malaysians are angry … in fact Malaysians are very, very angry.

1) We are angry that we have been denied our constitutional and democratic rights to a peaceful gathering. We are angry at the police brutality on a frail, tender 65-year-old auntie who was sprayed with chemically laced water and tear gassed for exercising her democratic rights when she was walking alone to demonstrate peacefully what she believes in.

2) We are angry at the lies, the biased reporting and the cover-ups by mainstream media (The Star included) to serve their political masters. We are angry at the way the mainstream media demonise Bersih 2.0.

3) We are very angry at the double standards of the police in arresting activists and opposition politicians. While some self-proclaimed nationalists and race champions openly spew seditious statements to incite religious and racial hatred and no action was taken against them, others were arrested for merely wearing yellow T-shirts.

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4) We are angry with the Home Minister and the IGP for their handling of the recent series of events occurring in the country. We are angry with the lies and denials they make in light of clear evidence from photos and videos.

5) We are angry at the continual police harassment and intimidation of civil society groups and activists who are perceived as a threat to the political hegemony of the current BN government. The arrest of a bus-load of Parti Sosialist Malaysia (PSM) members on trumped-up charges of trying to revive communism and rebelling against the Ruler is blatant police harassment and intimidation.

6) We are angry at the Home Ministry and the police for using the outdated and draconian Emergency Ordinance (EO) to detain the PSM 6 without trial. We are angry that they were detained on flippant charges of trying to revive communism, waging war against the Ruler and inciting people to join Bersih 2.0.

7) We are angry at Prime Minister Najib for his hypocrisy in saying one thing and flip-flopping the very next moment. We are angry at him for having an audience with the Pope to improve bilateral ties and immediately on returning back to Malaysia, he publicly questioned the Malaysian Christians by saying “We wish to tell our friends, the Malaysian Christians… if they respect us, we will also respect them.”

8. We are angry that Royal Commissions after Royal Commissions have been set up and recommendations have been made to improve our institutions but no significant changes have been made. We have not forgotten the Royal Commissions to investigate the Lingam video, police brutality on Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody and Teoh Beng Hock’s death while in MACC custody.

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9) We are very angry that there are too many deaths in custody of several authorities and nobody is held accountable and responsible for the deaths. We are angry that 1535 detainees have died in police custody between 2003-2007, 1300 illegal foreigners have died in immigration detention camps between 2002-2008 and two deaths in MACC custody most recently. We are angry that one death is one too many and wonder how many hundreds more went unreported and unnoticed.

10) We are angry that the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) and the EO continue to be used and abused by the authorities. We are angry that there are still 25 persons detained without trial under the ISA and 819 persons detained under the EO.

Wong Chun Wai asked, “Can we stop being angry people and try to make sense of the issues affecting the nation?” But the real ‘gem’ of his article was when he asked “Or better still, just laugh at them (the issues)?” I wonder if Wong has found it in his heart to laugh at Auntie Anne Ooi (Auntie Bersih) or the PSM 6 who endured the uncertainty of being put in solitary confinement indefinitely without trial. Did he laugh at the Teoh Beng Hock and Sarbani issues?

Wong, I wonder if you are laughing.

Tan Seng Hai is a Penang-based activist

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