On the Shoulders of Giants

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Predators on the prowl in Setapak

I have just met up with a few Myanmar refugees who are residents at the Danau Kota flats off Jalan Genting Klang, Setapak. They have been living there on the upper floors of these low cost flats between 4 and 10 years, earning a simple livelihood teaching in a refugee school while minding their own business, waiting to be resettled in a third country.

As Joan tells it, “The crime is getting worse. It was a safer place last time, but not now.” The situation has become so bad, many refugee families are afraid to leave their home or take the lift up to their floor, she added. Others have decided to move away from Setapak.

The robbers, they are Malaysians, I interjected?

“Yes. Many live here also and we know where they live. They wait for us. Nowadays there is a robbery nearly everyday. More than 10 gangsters usually wait around the lift, and some of their friends wait on the 1st or 2nd or 3rd floor. When they see a Myanmar coming, they whistle like this (she makes a bird sound) or make some signal. Then they surround you.”

Family man and fellow teacher George nodded. “My wife works in the restaurant and comes home at midnight. It’s very frightening for my wife, so we moved to another flat with security nearby. A bit more expensive, but safer.”

You have been robbed? “Sure, a couple of times,” George said. “They surround us, take our wallets, our handphones. If you are slow, they hit you or show you a knife. That's why I walk with my wife back from work at night.”

George explained that Myanmar refugees working the night shift are most at risk. “The robbers know we come home at 3 or 4 am, so they wait. These gangsters always wait in groups. So we wait until they go away before we go home, sometimes using the fire escape stairs.”

The Danau Kota flats in Setapak are a low cost maximum density housing development comprising five 18-floor blocks. Most of the units are about 700 square foot each on average. Small, compact, with 3 rooms and a bathroom. Community facilities are limited and dilapidated, hygiene is lacking, and basic amenities such as lifts are constantly broken.

The problem is exacerbated in this aging development (nearly 20 years old) by poor essential maintenance and complete indifference of residents and housing authorities alike. No wonder it has become a breeding ground for crime. Gangs operate openly while residents have learned to look the other way.

Like low-cost housing everywhere in the city, the Danau Kota flats attract a large number of undocumented migrant workers and refugees. As condominiums and shopping malls sprouted overnight on tracts of ex-mining land, the promise of employment lured newly arrived foreigners here, many of whom are Myanmars, away from familiar but crowded refugee enclaves in the city.

“My wife is so scared we moved to another area. She said at work, already scared of boss. Walking home, scared of police. Reach the flat, scared of gangsters,” George smiled warily.

What makes matters worse is that the authorities are no help either. Having accompanied Myanmars to the Police Station to lodge reports, I have witnessed first-hand how our men in blue treat these unwelcomed foreigners. They are easy pickings too. And more trouble for you if you do not have an UNHCR Refugee card.

Peter who has been here for ten years told of an incident that happened last month. A young Myanmar man was accosted after work near the lift by 6 local youths, one armed with a knife. In the tussle, the Myanmar grabbed the knife and ran for his life. Speaking in Bahasa, Peter said, “Itu geng, dia orang jerit, ‘Tolong! Ada Myanmar perompak bawa pisau.’ Lepas itu, orang lain pun kejar sambil orang Myanmar kena tangkap. Dia kena hentam juga. Kami punya komuniti bayar Polis RM5000 bagi dia bebas.”

Malaysians have become brazen predators preying on helpless refugees. And it appears no one is surprised.

On another occasion I was summoned to help out a Myanmar refugee who did not have an UNHCR card. There he was looking like a trapped animal, his eyes fixed on the floor, while 4 other unsmiling policemen sat with him in a sidewalk mamak store, pulling on their cigarettes. A spokesman took me to a side and told me that RM300 would help the Myanmar. “Kalau kita hantar ke Immigresen, lagi teruk. Kena bayar RM3000.”

It’s hard not to be cynical about law enforcement, human rights and justice in our blighted nation. But by sitting on our hands we lose the right to complain.

Tomorrow, my friend and church community liaison Ravee and I are accompanying 3 Myanmar victims to the court. All three – they are unrelated - were robbed during a particularly violent weekend blitz in November last year.

According toThanga, two men broke into his home in broad daylight, held a knife to his young daughter and robbed his family. Thankfully these robbers were apprehended - now that's something you don't see everyday! Well done!

So these saksi-saksi who were subpoenaed to testify will have their first taste of Malaysia’s legal system. What stories will they tell when this episode is finally over? The case has been postponed twice already. I hope for their sake the wheels of justice will turn in their favour. For once.

 (All names have been changed to protect their identity)

Friday, July 19, 2013

DIALOGUE: Homeschooling in the Christian Family

What is homeschooling all about? 

Why do families choose to educate their own kids at home? 

Has the Bible anything to say about educating your children at home? 

How do you begin to homeschool your own children?

If you are among the many who are asking these questions,
this Homeschool Dialogue is for you.

(Click to enlarge image for details to register your attendance) 

Date: Saturday 3 August 2013 Time: 3.000pm ~ 5.00pm 
Venue: Hope Evangelical Free Church, Wangsa Link, Kuala Lumpur

(Click here for Hope EFC location on Google map)


 David and Sook Ching are parents of 2 adult sons who were homeschooled all through their years. Ethan will complete his degree in Political Science in Texas end of this year. Elliot has left for Perth to complete his twinning programme in Mass Communications. David and Sook Ching are founders of the homeschooling network, HOMEFRONTIER.

Joseph and Debra have been homeschooling for the past 6 years and their primary motivation is in building a Biblical worldview into the raising of their two daughters - aged 10 and 14. As a family, they have started Answers Academy - an apologetics ministry focusing on equipping believers with real answers for skeptical questions in today's world. 

Weng Hou and Gaik Suan are active members of Full Gospel Tabernacle. They have 3 children who were homeschooled after their early years in government schools. Natalie 22, is doing an online degree course while helping with the family business. Nicholas 19, is in Pre-U, MCKL, while Stephanie 17, has just completed her SAT and preparing for her O Level exams. 

This Homeschool Dialogue is the 2nd in a series of occasional sessions hosted by Hope EFC as part of its ministry towards families and the homeschooling community. As a family-friendly church, we are advocates of strong families and support homeschooling as a viable option for Christian parents.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why Bersih 3.0

No, We're Malaysians and we won't take it anymore!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CFM comments on offensive security act

The Christian Federation of Malaysia issues a press release in view of the impending repeal of the 1960 Internal Security Act


APRIL 17 – The Christian Federation of Malaysia welcomes the Honourable Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib bin Tun Razak’s tabling of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, 16 April 2012.

Once the Bill comes into operation, at a date yet to be fixed, the Internal Security Act 1960 will be repealed.

We acknowledge the Prime Minister’s attempt to remain true to the announcement he made on 15 September 2011 that he would abolish the Internal Security Act 1960.

Nonetheless, the CFM is concerned that as part of Clause 32 of the Bill dealing with the saving provisions, “The repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960 shall not affect – (a) any order issued or made under the repealed Act prior to the date of coming into operation of this Act, unless earlier revoked by the Minister.”

There are 3 orders issued under the Internal Security Act 1960 which are particularly offensive to the Christian community.

These are:

Internal Security (Prohibition of Publications) (No. 4) Order 1982.

This is a prohibition order on the Alkitab published by the Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia and printed in Korea. This order deems the Alkitab (The Bible in the Malay language) to be prejudicial to the national interest and security of the Federation and prohibits the printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation or possession of the publication with the condition that the prohibition “shall not apply to the possession or use in churches of such publication by persons professing the Christian religion, throughout Malaysia”. The order was signed on 22nd March 1982.

Internal Security (Prohibition of Publications) (No.2) Order 1983.

The publication “Kalam Hidup” published by the Kalam Hidup (Kemah Injil Gereja Masehi Indonesia) was prohibited throughout Malaysia and was stated as “prejudicial to the national interest of the Federation”. The order was signed on 4th May 1983.

Internal Security (Prohibition of Publications) (No.3) Order 1983.

The “Perjanjian Baru” published and printed by the Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia was prohibited because it was “prejudicial to the national interest of the Federation” but was allowed “subject to the possession or use in churches of such publication by persons professing the Christian religion, throughout Malaysia.” The order was signed on 4th May 1983.

Pursuant to Clause 32 of the Bill, such orders will remain in force notwithstanding the repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960. This is wholly unacceptable.

We call on the Prime Minister, in the spirit of the Global Movement of Moderates which he himself has launched and championed, to take immediate steps to revoke these orders.

As long as they remain part of the corpus of legislation in Malaysia, they represent an odious and obnoxious derogation from the freedom of religion in Malaysia.

Article 149 of the Federal Constitution, under which provisions the Internal Security Act 1960 was passed, clearly prohibits any inconsistency with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion.

As such, these orders violate the Federal Constitution and should NEVER have been made in the first place.

These orders represent an unwarranted and illegitimate restriction of the right to profess, practice and propagate one’s religion.

It adds insult to injury if they are allowed to remain on our statute books.

We urge the Malaysian Government to take this golden opportunity to remove once and for all this stubborn stain on the rule of law in Malaysia.

Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing,  Chairman and the Executive Committee, The Christian Federation of Malaysia.