04 April, 2007

'Ugly Malaysians': Counter negative perception

Ugly Malaysians ? just stumbled upon this letter by KALAM AZAD ,Shah Alam, which was published in the NST today :

I AM a frequent visitor to Indonesia. On virtually every trip there would be something in the Indonesian media, both print and television, regarding the Ugly Malaysian.

It is almost always about how badly Indonesians employed in Malaysia have been treated. These Indonesian workers, locally referred to as TKI (tenaga kerja Indonesia), claim they have been denied salaries, battered by their employers, etc.

These reports are sensational news and are very popular with Indonesians. Because they appear so often, such news about Malaysia creates a negative mindset verging on animosity towards Malaysia.

Foreign tourists in Indonesia may also think badly of Malaysia when they read and see such reports.

It is small wonder that some members of the Indonesian parliament recently demanded that Malaysian naval ships allegedly encroaching into Indonesian waters be gunned down.
All these reports of workers being ill-treated are one-sided reports that are not authenticated or verified. But when you get similar cases being brought to court in Malaysia, this can be enough verification for all of those sensational stories appearing in the Indonesian media.

Malaysia does not need this but there is nothing we can do to stop the Indonesian media from printing or showing what they wish. It is small wonder that the Indonesian public is not sympathetic to us when haze blankets the peninsula every year.

I suggest our government conduct a major public relations campaign to combat this negative view among Indonesians. We can show so many positive results arising from the employment of Indonesians in Malaysia.

Firstly, there are places in Indonesia like Kediri and Cilacap where whole villages have streets of new houses resulting from income derived from work in Malaysia. We can show happy marriages of couples who met while working in Malaysia.

Show lines of Indonesian workers queuing to send money home to Indonesia and perhaps indicate the total amount of money repatriated every month. I know of one bank in Johor Baru which repatriates RM7 million back to Indonesia every month.

Remind them how Malaysia was quick to respond to help them during the tsunami and the quake near Jogjakarta.

I am sure a public relations specialist can think of many more ideas. We did something similar when we refuted negative reports on the consumption of palm oil in the United States.

I do not believe our embassy in Jakarta is adequately equipped and manned to counter these reports. At government-to-government level, our relationship with Indonesia is excellent but I have seen enough and spoken to many at the ground level to know that the average Indonesian has very strong negative sentiments about Malaysia.

I don't know how true is the truth.

All the while I was thinking only Singapore has more zest for broadcasting and publishing all those negative news on Malaysia.

It seems yet another country is gonna declare we Malaysians as personae non gratae.

Imagine about 2.8 million foreign workers, mainly Indonesian, work in Malaysia, live in Malaysia and criticise Malaysia.

They are a valuable resource for Malaysia no doubt, as well as, according to the Government, the main cause of a widespread violence and a 40% sharp increase in crime rate.

That reminds me of the Story of " the Arab and the Camel."

Perhaps, you readers have a better view.

What say you Unspun ?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can gloss over Indonesian concerns by launching a costly PR campaign of Malaysian politicians kissing Indonesian babies or you can actually do something concrete to fix Malaysia, which is essentially a rotten state -- corruption is rife, religious bigotry rife and human rights abuses widespread. Refugees are treated as criminals or worse, and migrant workers who have been forced to abandon their homeland and families to eke out miserable existences slaving to help build Malaysia while they a look upon as nothing better than dogs. The Malaysian government is even proposing limiting their movements. Beaten slaves. Shame on Malaysia and shame on this pathetic blog.

April 04, 2007 8:19 PM  
Blogger Linken Lim said...

Shame on this pathetic blog ?
Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians equally.and all have an equal right and responsibility to take ownership of their country and its future.
What I did was merely reproduced a letter that was published in the NST and raised my concern and doubts,what's wrong?

April 04, 2007 10:04 PM  
Blogger zewt said...

but they will still come and work anyway... it's a simbiosis scenario... we need them... they need us.

April 04, 2007 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Unspun said...

Ah well, since Unspun's name has been evoked I must do your bidding Sire.

First thing off is that you must realize that Indonesia is a large country with lots of things happening to grab its attention.

So complaints and whatever news coverage about TKI's must be taken in context. I think the letter writer somewhat overemphasizes the amount of coverage given to such matters.

He is correct, however, in saying that the Malaysian Embassy is ill equipped to handle the PR aspects of the illegal worker fallout and to promote the country.The Malaysian Ambassador here has been heard wondering why, for instance, th Singaporeans get all the credit while the Malaysians were actually the first ones in Aceh after the Tsunami.

But pat of the problem is also that Malaysians, particularly oficials, do not appreciate what PR can do for them.

I presented to the Malaysian Tourism Board several years ago in which I told them that the TKI issue, although not a tourism issue, will not only affect the country's image but affect arrivals. The response from the then Malaysian Deputy Ambssador is best described as uncouth and stoopid.

So there you go: no right attitude results in wrong behaviors and incorrect resource allocations.

Indonesians by and large fin Malaysians a bit quaint but are neutral about us.

April 05, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Linken Lim said...

Thanks Unspun,I am honoured and delighted to have received this comment from a distinguished blogger here.

April 05, 2007 10:32 PM  

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