Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The invisible 'apology'

Remember my post Is God black, white, brown, yellow or green?

There, I expressed my outrage that in the year 2007 a Malaysian minister had the damn audacity to make blatant racist comments against Sheena Moorthy, a Malaysian. In his bigoted opinion aired in a public gathering, that her ‘dark’ skin was correlated to her low caste origin, he had unforgiveably insulted and humiliated her.

Obviously that minister has a number of sympathetic supporters, with one swiftly writing in to
malaysiakini to defend him. Her arguments? See following quote:

“Jamaludin was well brought up by a very strict policeman father, Jarjis, who himself was a dark-skinned person. He was an officer and gentleman to his last days. Jamaludin is too brilliant to make such a stupid statement. Let's check it out”, demanding that his accusers should check the veracity of the alleged racist comments carefully, as it could be our “Malaysian exaggerations and/or disinformation”.

To her, the minister was so 'brilliant' that such an accusation against him has to be typical Malaysian exaggeration and/or disinformation. Her faith in him is admirable but hardly assuring. ‘Brilliant’ would be the last adjective to use, when ‘boggling’ might have been appropriate.

Then there were others, like kittykat46, who attributed the minister’s lack of judgement to jet lag, so on so forth, attempting shamelessly to excuse him. Brilliant jet lag, or jet lag brilliance?

But it begs us to question whether such a person with an appalling lack of commonsense judgement and basic decency, should have been a minister, especially in a multi-ethnic country?

Blogger Rocky Bru posted that the minister had apologised to Sheena Moorthy and averred, in my opinion rather hastily, that the case was closed. He added that the minister
“did right to apologise, in my opinion. It is a quality missing in many politicians.”

Hang on a ding dong sec, I argued: First of all, apologising was the only acceptable and expected thing for the minister to do, but let’s not get carried away and phrase it as if he is to be commended.

Indeed I put the affair into its correct perspective by reminding everyone there’s nothing to commend Jamaludin Jarjis on, just because he apologised for his racist remarks which he should not and never should have made in the first place.

The apology has to be the only expected outcome of such a stupid remark but did not in any way erase the insult already flung at Sheena in mind-boggling reckless fashion. The apology might possibly mollify her but there shouldn’t be automatic or arrogant assumption that she could or should forget the vile and unacceptable insult. Forgive yes, but forget? It’s entirely her prerogative.


I’ve just read in
malaysiakini a letter by Sheela Moorthy (Sheena's sister) asking, mind you nothing Jamaludin-ish ‘brilliant’, but in plain language where’s the apology that was suggested to us as good reason to close the case?

Sheela said:
“It is rumoured that he apologised. Really? How come I am the last to know? And it was through an aide? And to the ‘student in LA’? How come nothing in the media? Pressure not to publicise the issue I was told.”

“Despite the many interviews we have had with reporters (who approached us by the way) from Bernama, The News Straits Times and The Star, not one word of it was published. It is a sorry and scary state of affairs. If he did apologise, why was there nothing in the media? All I know is what I gather from reading the blogs. So much for World Press Freedom Day.”

So Sheena Moorthy, the one insulted by the minister, becomes the last person to hear of the minister tendering an apology, and then only via a blogsite.



  1. sack the jackass minister...he's got no place in a multicultural country.if a person who is highly learned fails in his simplest of duty to uphold the dignity of the nation....then i dont know where we are heading to with our 'foster ethnic relations with all races'.sheesh....shame on you JJ.dear pm....just sack him or you will be the laughing stock.

  2. We should recommend a minimal IQ test for all aspiring ministers in future. BN has been at the butt end of jokes since blogging begins, more information to the people to make informed decisions!

  3. Based on what I learned from KT in the *aneh* episode, what the good Minister could have done was dig up some anthropological-historical textbook or study of India and look up the section on the Aryan invasion theory. Then he can call the student ignorant and make himself look scholarly and get away with an insult to boot. This is the high-falutin version of other well known justifications of racial slurs used in Parliament.

  4. Sheela should have retorted on the spot that neither is dark skin shameful, nor is there such a thing as a "low" caste. But ignorant pronouncements of these is definitely shameful, esp for a Malaysian minister.