Abd. Kadir Azhari from Anaheim, California has written to malaysiakini 3 times (so he claims) with a letter defending Dr Jamaludin Jarjis, the Minister who made the 'colour' remark against one sweet but highly stressed Indian Malaysian lady. He lamented that his letter wasn't published.
Mate, you just don't know how long you have to wait to get one published unless yours is very topical. For example, my letter on Ijok (thinking outside the Anwar-centric box) was written BEFORE the by-election and only published recently whilst the one on Zimbabwe took as many weeks.
Abd Kadir also copied his letter to opposition leaderLim Kit Siang and some bloggers including me. In the interest of fairness I am publishing his letter in full (without any editing or truncation) - after all I was one of those who hammered the Minister severely for his insensitive remarks. His letter follows:
I refer to the letter Apologies Demanded From Racist Minister by Dr. Sheela Moorthy.
I am surprised by the recent escalation of the situation revolving around the allegedly discriminated Sheena Moorthy and the Minister of Science, Dato’ Seri Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis (JJ). I have read Dr. Sheela Moorthy’s letter regarding JJ’s remarks and feel I should clarify the incident.
I believe Dr. Sheela Moorthy was exaggerating the facts; I was present at the dinner together with the Cal Poly Pomona, University of Southern California, Cal-Tech, International Islamic University of Malaysia students, and representatives of the Malaysia Students Department of Los Angeles. I would like to make it clear that Dr. Sheela Moorthy was not in attendance at the dinner. Though her action of sending the letter on behalf of her sister is under good intentions, I do not believe she could provide context to what had happened that night.
I have read Lim Kit Siang’s blog regarding the incident and find that he best summarizes Sheena’s grievances over JJ’s comments. His blog can be read here From this point and further, I will use his blog, as well as Dr Sheela’s letter to malaysiakini.com as my references.
Through Dr. Sheela Moorthy’s letter to all the bloggers Lim Kit Siang identified Sheena’s complaints into three incidents as listed below. I will describe each incident chronologically and provide an actual description of each incident within context.
“Incident 1 - Each student had to briefly introduce themselves. When it came to her turn, while speaking he interrupted her and asked if she knew Samy Vellu, because he knows him. She did not see any relevance in that and he mentioned it a few times for no apparent reason.
Incident 1: The only reason why I could see this as a discriminatory incident or why Sheena took offense was because of the reputation that Samy Vellu carries and the fact that their both are Indians, insinuating that because she is Indian she is like Samy Vellu. It’s true that he interrupted her and asked her if she know Samy Vellu, however, Sheela or Sheena failed to mention JJ’s comments on Samy Vellu’s importance in scholarship distribution. After asking if she knew him (Samy Vellu) and talked to him before, JJ said he knows him very well and would get Samy Vellu’s help in sorting out scholarships.
Samy Vellu is the president of the MIC, and therefore in charge of the distribution of scholarships and grants to Malaysian Indians. His assistance would be beneficial to the aid of Indian students, which perhaps Sheena failed to realize. As much as I hate to say this, Sheena failed to realize the relevance of Samy Vellu to her education.
Incident 2 – He gave a speech regarding how agriculture started in Malaysia. He mentioned how the British invested in Malaysia and made farmers work. Due to the lack of work force, “buruh India” was brought in. While mentioning this, he looked at her saying “that’s how we get Indians in Malaysia”.
Incident 2: JJ did not give a speech on how agriculture started in Malaysia, rather than a speech of the development of Malaysia’s biotech industry. He talked about our abundance in natural resources and its potential for utilization, and began his speech with Malaysia’s agricultural industry. He explained how Malaysia has progressed from an agricultural based economy to becoming a leader in the biotech industry. He wanted to stress the leap from an agricultural based economy to one that has taken a cutting-edge science into the forefront, and to further heighten that leap, he stressed the importance of having the Indians in the agriculture industry which contributed to the progression of our country.
During his speech he did not mention “buruh India” nor did he say “that’s how we got Indians in Malaysia.” But instead, he used the term “pekerja India.” If we take into consideration the circumstances on how this incident came into the news, it is understandable how a misconception such as this would occur. It was Dr. Sheela Moorthy who released this information to the public not Sheena; JJ said neither of those two statements during the dinner, so then, giving Dr. Moorthy and Sheena the benefit of a doubt, I will assume then there was a communication mix up. Dr. Sheela Moorthy’s letter to the malaysiakini.com community and the facts stated in it, we can assume came from the conversation between the two, and it is understandable to have a speech on the immigration of Indians be summarized as “how Indians came to Malaysia,” and from that get that JJ said “that’s how we get Indians in Malaysia.”
JJ was standing in the middle of the restaurant; it is almost impossible to say that JJ was directing the speech towards her because he was looking at all of us during it.
Incident 3 – After saying he is going to get MARA to help the Bumiputra students, he looked at her and asked “How many Indians are here?” Sheena did not keep track of number of Indian students so she mentioned that in the room there were two (pointing to another Malaysian Indian friend, who is fair skinned) and Jamaludin looked at him and asked “Oh. You are an Indian? Which means you are an upper class Indian and she is the lower class one” (pointing at her). Jamaludin went on to say that, “Oh, I am not going to help upper class Indians, I only help the lower class ones. They are the ones that need it’.”
Incident 3: Now I’d like you all to re-read this statement carefully; all that is written above is true, and I will not dispute that. However, I’d like to mention that there is no distinction between light-skinned and darker-skinned Indians. Can you say within our country that lighter-skinned Indians are more prosperous than darker-skinned Indians? No you cannot! If you believe so, then you are misleading your mind from the truth (for sake of a witch-hunt). Here in Malaysia we do not have that kind of distinction with the Indians. JJ did not make his statement based on their skin color but instead on the way they dressed and represent themselves. He neither gave any remarks based on their skin color, nor based on their race. He even has clarified it was meant to be a joke, though it may sound rude, but he has actually no intention to offend an! yone including Sheena. May I offer a crude analogy to describe the situation with no intention to offence anyone at all. As far as I am concerned, the student delegates are not surprised at all with his speech. You should see the significant differences between Sheena and the other Indian guy, both of them are equally fair.
And how is it possible if he could extend his remark based on their skin complexion? During the dinner, the Indian guy was wearing a very nice collared shirt, unlike Sheena who wore a simple and dull black shirt with a skirt, which I would say it doesn’t suit her at all.
Nonetheless, JJ had actually extended his deepest apologies to student Sheena Moorthy over remarks he made during a lunch with about 40 students, including Sheena, in Belacan Grill, Los Angeles. He told a gathering of a few hundreds students, witnessed by few Menteri Besar, and our Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak during his working visit at Boston. He clarified that he had said some things in jest; nonetheless, he wished to apologize to "the student in LA" if he had offended her. And that is a great and generous gesture from our honorable minister.
Abdul Kadir Azhari