Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Our esteemed Minister of Science, Technology and Information

I heard about this through a reader of this blog but didn't know of its veracity and so didn't refer to it until this letter from Mkini was published. It is a short summary of the racist attitude taken by Jamaludin Jarjis (or JJ as he is popularly known) at the recent apperance in California. I wonder if the esteemed Minister realizes that India has created a number of world class technology companies and that certain Indian pharmeceutical companies are slowly but surely creating waves in the international scene. His actions and words, if true, are unforgivable and he should be given a public reprimand. I've cut and paste the letter below.

Apology demanded from racist minister
Dr Sheela Moorthy
May 2, 07 2:52pm

I am a Malaysian currently living in the USA. I am supporting the education of my sister who is enrolled at CalPoly, California.

The reason I am writing this letter is to express my disgust and anger regarding comments passed by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Jamaludin Jarjis during a working visit to California recently.

He was present at a gathering organised by the Malaysian Consulate for the students to meet him. The purpose of this meeting was for them to address any concerns or queries they had. Being away from home, we all know that we love to meet our fellow-countrymen regardless of what color or creed they may be.

And being brought up in the true Malaysian way, we were thought to respect each other and look beyond the shallowness of skin color.

This was not the case with our minister. He made several derogatory remarks about Indians in general, about how they were brought in as 'buruh kasar' and at one point asked my sister about how many Indians were in her batch of students.

My sister answered him saying there were two of them. The other Indian student was fair-skinned and was actually sitting at the same table as the minister.

He did not realize that this student was also an Indian and went on saying that he must be a 'high class’ Indian and then pointed at my sister and said that she must be a ‘low class’ Indian as she was darker skinned.

I am appalled that we have people like this sitting at the helm and trying to run a multi-racial country. I urge all Malaysian to stand together and voice out against weeds like this who give our country a bad image.

I demand an apology from him and I want him to take responsibility for his words and I believe that malaysiakini is one of the venues to voice my dissatisfaction.

10 comments:

Jin Yoong said...

There's a post on
Rocky's Bru about this. Seems like JJ has apologized.

Anonymous said...

Apologies or not, a racist is a racist!

Totally unacceptable for a human to make such comments. JJ is truly kurang ajar!

What has Samy V to say?

JC said...

Samy????? He is too busy worrying about leakages and other slip shot jobs of our govt buildings. Don't bother getting any feedback ..that is for sure

ah^kam koko' said...

i'm glad he appologised...
hope he learns from this mistake & becomes a better person & public servant.

Anonymous said...

hi, i stumbled into your blog and i know this is entirely irrelevant, but i was just browsing through your entry on "world class universities?" and i was wondering, what do you think of taylor's university college's collaboration with university of reading for their law programme? i'm interested in enrolling for taylor's law twinning programme with reading uni. is it really as good as they seem to be? thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Racist, I dunno....many other non-bumi Malaysians are too. I think it's more of ignorance. You'd be surprised how many other Malaysians think that the fairer skinned northern Indian is of a higher class and thus superior to their darker skinned southern counterparts. It happened to Indians in my school when I was a student, and it continues to happen now. This is mainly due to the colonialist mentality ingrained into the brains of Malaysians, where the whites (who's obviously fairer in complexion) is seen to be smarter than our own types.

And so it's ironic that much of the scientific community and the business powerhouses in India are run by the southerners....the darker skinned ones. Try picking up a scientific journal, and you'll see that the Indian authors mainly bear southern names.

Anonymous said...

Looks like another letter from Dr.Sheela Moorthy about the issue. Seems like her sister didn't really get a real apology.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/67207

Anonymous said...

Technology and entrepreneurship are bottom up, not top down or government sponsored. Jamaludin himself attended Professor C.K.Pralahad’s talk of 'Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid' and Core Competency fame here in KL 2 yaers ago. Pralahad is Tamil and from South India and currently a Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan. He studied in the University of Madras ( Chennai) and is in the Top 3 most influential thnkers in the world according to the Financial Times.

Pralahad himself says the Northern government didn’t understand IT so they didn’t interfere and spoil it. He also advised none other than our Jamaludin against a Ministry of Innovation as it will kill the spirit. Also Chandra Sekhar and is uncle C.V Raman both Tamils won the Noble prize in Mathematics and physics in the last century at toime of considerable preudice against Asians . Chandra published the Mathematical theory of Black Holes long before Stephen Hawkings and was publically riduculed by Sir Arthur Eddington in Cambridge England. After this he set sail for America and joined the University of Chicago where he won the Nobel Prize, NASA has named an X-ray orbiting telescope after him .

Remember Jamalaludin was in the US’s California and where Indian Americans shine, many, indeed many are from South India . He would have to be comatose or in active denial not to notice this. He must have noticed this and his response was fear. In very much the same way of the 'Wrath of Grapes' as well as the vulnerablity to Fascist-Nazi propaganda against Jews, he may have resorted to Neo-Fascist scapegoating of the weak and poor Indians in Malaysia .

Indians are highly successful not just in IT but in academics, medicine, and business. They have the higest median income and are the most successful educated ethnic group in the US surpassing even whites and Jews according to the US Census Bureau, and are the fastest growing ethnic migrant community.

Check out the link below to the US’s Businessweek on how and why the Indians are so successful in the most competitive country in the world with no affirmative actions (government help).

Check the US's Businessweek:
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/sep2006/sb20060913_157784.htm?campaign_id=rediff

Are Indians the Model Immigrants?
A BusinessWeek.com columnist and accomplished businessman, Wadhwa shares his views on why Indians are such a successful immigrant group.

"..According to the 2000 Census, the median household income of Indians was $70,708—far above the national median of $50,046. An Asian-American hospitality industry advocacy group says that Indians own 50% of all economy lodging and 37% of all hotels in the U.S. AnnaLee Saxenian, a dean and professor at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that in the late 1990s, close to 10% of technology startups in Silicon Valley were headed by Indians. 10% of Harvard Business Schoool, and major universities in the US are from India - the largest from any country ouside the US.

You'll find Indian physicians working in almost every hospital as well as running small-town practices. Indian journalists hold senior positions at major publications, and Indian faculty have gained senior appointments at most universities. Last month, Indra Nooyi, an Indian woman from Chennai ( Madras) , was named Chairwoman of PepsiCo.

A MODEST EXPLANATION. Census data show that 81.8% of Indian immigrants arrived in the U.S. after 1980. They received no special treatment or support and faced the same discrimination and hardship that any immigrant group does. Yet, they learned to thrive in American society. Why are Indians such a model immigrant group?

In the absence of scientific research, I'll present my own reasons for why this group has achieved so much. As an Indian immigrant myself, I have had the chance to live the American dream. I started two successful technology companies and served on the boards of several others. To give back, I co-founded the Carolinas chapter of a networking group called The Indus Entrepreneurs and mentored dozens of entrepreneurs.."

Boy oh boy! Its interesting isn’t it? That affirmative action in Malaysia and the US touches Indians differently. In the US, they don’t need it, and don’t ask for it but they shine.

In Malaysia affirmative action hasn’t even helped the poor Malays, and in the US it has been a failure on economic criteria. But its justifiable in my opinion for saying ‘sorry’ to the history of slavery for African Americans. But that’s just my opinion .

In Malaysia, affirmative action has ironically pushed the Indians further down the pecking order, because the economic pie isn’t infinitely growing. While Indians thrive in other countries they are down in Malaysia. Check South Africa - the same story .

South India pays taxes to be squandered by the North. Please check your facts, don’t patronize. Technology and entrepreneurship are bottom up , not top down or government driven.

And as for dark skinned South Indians, check the US's Businessweek:

Businessweek:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_15/b3778126.htm

A Tale of Two Indias
Can the north ever catch the south?

"The south Indian states are more concerned with the economy.”
The growing divide between the four southern states--Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala--and the rest of the country is prompting the south to become increasingly independent. Angry that the region's economic health has provided the central government with an excuse to limit federal funding, southern leaders are pushing for more decision-making power over education, employment, poverty alleviation, and infrastructure. "There can be no meaningful economic liberalization without decentralization," says Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. There are even murmurs of secession. "Our India, with no Ayodhya temple talk, no Pakistan, no Delhi, no rabble-rousing politicians," muses an influential south Indian executive. "It's seditious, but what a delicious thought!"

Of course, no one seriously expects the nation to split in two. In fact, north and south have been regions apart for hundreds of years. Northern India endured a series of foreign invasions, and as a result developed a vibrant but confrontational culture. Southern India, far from New Delhi and bracketed on three sides by the Indian Ocean, instead developed strong commercial ties with foreigners. Moreover, the north's militant, caste-based brand of Hinduism is nothing like the south's peaceable faith, the product of 60 years of religious reforms that eroded the power of the caste system and separated church and state.
As a result, southern state governments can afford to be more pragmatic than their northern counterparts. Take chief minister Naidu. He travels the world with his laptop, selling investors on the virtues of his wired state. Locally, citizens can communicate with him through his Web site. Naidu and Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna have put a priority on liberalizing investment rules, cutting through red tape, and modernizing infrastructure. Naidu's hardball negotiations with New Delhi won him approval last year to operate international flights out of Hyderabad's airport. That means investors no longer have to travel through Bombay's chaotic facility. Both Hyderabad and Bangalore are building new airports.

Foreign investors have endorsed south India's rich business climate with their pocketbooks. Over the next three years, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Cisco Systems, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard are all doubling their operations in Bangalore. "Bangalore was the natural choice for Cisco," says S. Devarajan, vice-president of Cisco's Indian global development center, the company's largest such facility outside the U.S. "The corridors of power are very clean here."

For its part, Tamil Nadu has managed to lure half of India's auto industry. Among the main players: Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor India Co. Hyundai opened a $615 million plant there in 1998 to take advantage of the state's well-educated labor force, sophisticated infrastructure, and proximity to the modern Madras port. Hyundai India's president, B.V.R. Subbu, recalls being pleasantly surprised when a water line for the plant was in place four days ahead of schedule. "The local government is very responsive," says Subbu. "North and south are attitudinally different."
The south's growing critical mass is giving it extra clout in the capital. Such progressive thinking has caught the attention of northerners who yearn for the south's prosperity, tech industry, and peaceful way of life. Even the chief minister of the communist-run state of Bengal is talking about making it the "IT capital of India." Clearly, in the future the central government will be under increasing pressure to make sure that the southern model of a modern India spreads to the rest of the country.

By Manjeet Kripalani in Bombay

Abd Kadir Azhari said...

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: http://blog.limkitsiang.com/?p=197. 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 anyone 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, they are equally fair. Please follow the link to check out their pictures, and tell me if you are able to note any difference in their skin complexion. (Courtesy of Friendster.com)

http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/9984/svuh3.jpg

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 (Too bad Sheena was not present during the dinner at Boston though she was present for the conference, yet she REFUSED to attend the dinner). 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.

Abd Kadir Azhari said...

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: http://blog.limkitsiang.com/?p=197. 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 anyone 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, they are equally fair. Please follow the link to check out their pictures, and tell me if you are able to note any difference in their skin complexion. (Courtesy of Friendster.com)

http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/9984/svuh3.jpg

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 (Too bad Sheena was not present during the dinner at Boston though she was present for the conference, yet she REFUSED to attend the dinner). 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.