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Jamaludin Jarjis – stop censoring the press and  be man enough to make an unqualified public apology to Sheena Moorthy for racist and derogatory remarks about Malaysian Indians in California a fortnight ago


Media Statement       
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) : The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis should stop censoring the press and be man enough to make an unqualified public apology to third-year CalyPoly Biotech Malaysian student Sheena Moorthy for his disgraceful conduct in making racist and derogatory remarks about Malaysian Indians when he met Malaysian students in Los Angeles, California a fortnight ago on 30th April.

During his official visit to California enroute to the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) Convention in Boston, Massachussets, Jamaludin had met some of the Malaysian students studying in California especially the ones from TPM Academy twinning programme at the Belacan Grill Malaysian Restaurant, Redondo Beach, Ca.

One of the students was Sheena Moorthy, who has become a cause celebre with her complaint that during the 3 ½ hour session, Jamaludin made “totally uncalled-for racial insults” when he passed a few racial remarks on her, being one of the two Indians present there.

This incident happened in front of a crowd of about 100 people including students, officials from the Malaysian Consulate, TPM, Tourism Malaysia, etc. But everyone is afraid and nobody is prepared to stand up to speak the truth.

Sheena and her sister, Dr. Sheela Moorthy, who is currently living in the USA and supporting her sister’s education at CalyPoly, are demanding a public apology from Jamaludin.

Sheena has written to complain about Jamaluddi’s racist and derogatory remarks to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and several Malaysian Ministers, including the MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Last Tuesday (8th May), I first raised the Sheena-Jamaludin issue in Parliament when I spoke in the debate on the Youth Societies and Youth Development Bill, citing it as one instance of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders setting bad leadership examples to Malaysian youths on national unity and national integration.  

The other example was the infamous “keris-wielding” history of the Umno Youth leader and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in the context of extremist and chauvinist demands heedless of rights and sensitivities of all communities in the country turning him into a symbol of national division and disunity.

The next day, May 9, blogger Rocky's Bru quoted an aide of Jamaludin to report that the Minister had apologised to Sheena as he had said “some things in jest”.

As another blogger, rightly asked as a follow-up:

“Is he  (Jamaludin) saying that he was only JOKING using such horrible words but he was ‘Sorry’ that Sheena/Sheela took it seriously?”

In response to my inquiry as to the actual position and latest update, Dr. Sheela has emailed the following reply:

“Well, neither me nor my sister have received a formal apology from him. There are rumors circulating that he apologized and I saw them on some blogs, so all I know is what the rest of you also know. I have also NOT received any news from any of the officials that I have written to.”  

I am shocked that Jamaludin has used his position as Minister to censor the press. Dr. Sheela said that although she and her sister had given many interviews as they had been approached by Bernama, New Straits Times and the Star, not one word had been published. She commented that this is  “a sorry and scary state of affairs” and “So much for World Press Freedom Day”. 

In actual fact, the only media to have published Sheena’s complaint and plight is Malaysiakini, while the mainstream media have blacked out the story despite their  reporters making international calls to both Sheena and Sheela in California to interview them.  This issue has been extensively blogged, another proof that blogs have become more reliable source of true and timely information than the mainstream media. 

Dr. Sheena also complained that despite the many letters both sisters have written to the various Ministries, including the Prime Minister, “not one person has taken an ounce of responsibility to reply”. 

She said: “Keep it down and it’ll die a natural death, that is the message I am getting. Even the PM’s office has nothing to say; may be their email addresses are not working! The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation should be able to fix that.” 

The Moorthy sisters are also very disappointed by the thunderous silence from the Indian leader in the Barisan Nasional coalition – MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. 

She said: 

“I agree the problem my sister and I have highlighted might be the tip of the iceberg of all the misconducts going on in our country but people have to learn to stand up for their rights and beliefs, politics aside. It just goes to show the basic upbringing we have had.  

“I am ashamed of how this whole issue was handled or mishandled I should say. I would like to hear the PM’s say on this. Does he think it’s funny too??? Please remind yourself that the world is watching and to just ignore issues like this just paints a BAD picture internationally. My colleagues are already questioning the integrity and sincerity of a Government that condones such behavior.”


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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