JULY 5 — I never thought I would see Malaysians defending dirty cops, but I saw just that last week.
It's no secret there have been police preying on foreign workers, both documented and undocumented. Shaking them down for money or possessions is so common there isn't a foreign worker who doesn't know first-hand police harassment.
As someone who used to be frequently stopped by police as I look non-local (thanks, East Malaysian genes), I can sympathise with these migrant workers. It's not fun being stopped in cabs or on the street and having some officer wanting to look at your IC in the hopes of a payoff.
So I was upset when I saw Malaysians thinking that cops were justified in harassing migrant workers. One even asked, “So should we let them go free like roaches?”
Dirty. Criminal. Uneducated. It's embarrassing how Malaysians treat and look at these migrant workers who we actually owe so much to.
Who do you think are building our infrastructure, taking care of our kids, cleaning up our roads and serving us at eateries?
It's funny we like calling them dirty when Malaysians are well-known for being horrible litterbugs. Just look at the aftermath of events or concerts. For instance, the terrible carnage of refuse left over after a recent breaking fast event at Merdeka Square.
Part of the reasons Malaysians litter so much is because we are really bad at placing dustbins. I've gone down long stretches of road in towns and cities, and struggled to find a proper place to throw the trash away.
Malaysians hate being inconvenienced. Can't find a dustbin? They'll just toss it on the road. Into a drain. Out a car window. I once saw a lazy Malaysian, parked outside shops, who rolled down his window and threw trash out. Couldn't be bothered to get down and find a real dustbin.
Anyone who's lived in the more lower-rent high-rises will have stories to tell about trash being thrown from balconies or heights, because people were too lazy to dispose of the trash properly. Look down and you'll see exploded plastic bags full of trash, burst open because someone couldn't walk the stairs to the dumpster.
I'd just like Malaysians imagining their lives if all the migrant workers suddenly disappeared. Let's be honest ― so many industries would be in trouble. We're addicted to cheap labour and it really shouldn't be that way. We have to wean ourselves off it eventually but until we do that, is it really so bad to ask that Malaysians not be utter d***ks about migrant workers?
Reminds me of the old saying “There but for the grace of God”. We were lucky to be born here. Lucky that we are officially, Malaysians. That even if not all of us qualify to work overseas, at least we'll never really struggle to get visas to travel and that when we say “Malaysian” the first word that comes to mind isn't “maid” or “illegal.”
It's OK to be proud to be Malaysian; it's not OK to pretend that it makes you a better person than the one cleaning up your table at a hawker stall. I'd really hate for one day for people to associate being Malaysian with being an elitist wanker, so at the very least can we at least try not to be xenophobic a-holes or at least attempt to get there?
Just be nice, Malaysians. We can do better than this.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.