14 December 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday December 9, 2009
Oh, the shame of it all

Malaysians have brought much embarrassment to the country in what they say and do while abroad, but the reaction to Fatine’s predicament must surely top it all.

I PONDERED this week on the meaning of “shame”. A statement by an Immigration official, who said that Fatine, a transsexual facing deportation from Britain, had brought “shame” to Malaysia, prompted my mind to ponder on this word.

By definition, shame is “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace”.

In this case, it seems an overwhelming emotion in response to what is basically someone else’s misfortune. After all, nobody knew this poor person until this happened. To then feel shame seems a bit of an overreaction.

This is even more puzzling when shame is never the response expressed over other misdeeds done by Malaysians whether at home or abroad.

Our citizens have been known to violate immigration laws overseas a great deal. In fact overstaying their visas is almost a Malaysian disease since it is estimated that there are some 30,000 Malaysian over-stayers in Britain.

When Britain threatened to stop visa-free entries for Malaysians going there recently because of these over-stayers, our authorities organised workshops to help those lawbreakers to come home, assuring them that they would not be arrested and put in prison. How very sweet!

How come we didn’t condemn all those people for bringing shame to the country then? Why single out poor Fatine?

Indeed, how come we have never expressed shame at our people who happily break laws in other countries by smuggling drugs and people, cheating, stealing, even murdering?

How come Immigration or any other officials don’t hang their heads in embarrassment that our people have the temerity to break laws in foreign lands?

How is it that we feel no sense of disgrace when people overseas think we’re barbaric for wanting to whip a mother of two for possibly doing herself, and nobody else, personal damage by having an alcoholic drink?

I must say that there have been moments when I have felt great shame at the antics of Malaysians abroad.

I feel it at conferences where our officials are obviously missing, only to show up later laden down with bags of shopping. Or when people have taken a lot of trouble to arrange a last minute visit to a project, and then they don’t show up because “traffic jam lah”.

I felt it when at the conclusion of a short course, which was very expensive, and paid for by sponsors, one semi-government participant got an award for “biggest contribution to tourism”, a caustic reference to his frequent absence from class.

I have this tendency to cringe when at conferences overseas, some of our delegates have nothing to say whatsoever, mostly because they don’t know the subject, but it was their “turn” to go.

I remember once that the NGO delegation basically wrote the Government statement by default, simply because we knew the subject well and were willing to sit down and work on it.

My face has turned red when I have had to sit through press conferences where Government officials have patently stated untrue things because they sounded good and expounded theories for which there have been no empirical basis.

There are few things more frustrating than having to squirm through those situations where you are unable to say anything without showing up the officials concerned and, yes, shaming them.

Yet it is people like those in NGOs who know their stuff who get told off for being disloyal, unpatriotic and supposedly out to embarrass the Government.

Heck, you may disagree with what we say but at least try and argue as articulately as we do. Then we can hold our heads up and say that our government officials may get things the wrong way round but, boy, they can make a convincing argument for it.

So what is this shame that this official felt? And in fact what has it to do with him at all? Is Immigration in charge of filing charges against our citizens for embarrassing us overseas?

Is there anywhere in their regulations that people who “shame” us overseas will not be allowed to have passports? In that case, there are probably more cases than they can handle.

Our smart official also probably did not think that his words have already travelled the world over and caused many blushes among Malaysians already.

What’s more, if he carries out his threat, and indeed if anything punitive were to be dished out to Fatine if she returns home, then we would be faced with queries from all over the world, with some awkward questions about how we treat the more marginalised sectors of our society.

At a time when we already have more to be ashamed, than to be proud, of, we really don’t need another fiasco, thank you.