Commentary Politics

The story of Jamal

Jamal is no more than a maverick, right-wing politician, the likes of whom are many the world over.

Jamal is no more than a maverick, right-wing politician, the likes of whom are many the world over.

Written by Aziz Hassan

Recollections & ReflectionsA weekly column

Where right wing politics goes, Jamal is not peculiar to the Malay community, Umno or politicians the world over.

HE is different things to different people and while he clearly pursues issues affecting Malay interests, Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos ironically has many detractors amongst Malays, most of whom appear embarrassed by his ways.

Until a few years ago, this 46-year-old from remote Kampung Sungai Leman in Sungai Besar was known almost entirely for his Sekinchan Ikan Bakar chain of restaurants. (Remote in the sense that it’s quite a distance from a big city like Kuala Lumpur.) Since then he has been hogging the limelight, mainly due to his right wing politics and sideshows which some Malays describe as being shameful and an embarrassment to the community.

Last week, when many parts of Selangor were without piped water, Jamal decided that a protest was in order against the state government. While claiming that he had not showered in two days, Jamal went to the State Secretariat, where the mentri besar has his office, to ask that he be allowed to take a bath there. Press reports said he was clad only in a towel but photos showed he had a bathrobe on.

Is Jamal a recent phenomenon in Malaysian politics in terms of being a right wing, because that is essentially what he is?

In the days of the Alliance coalition, Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Albar was regarded by most as being an ultra Umno politician. Similarly Datuk Harun Idris, especially as Umno Youth leader. In recent years, Perkasa founder Datuk Ibrahim Ali has remained as right wing as the two veterans but there is a marked difference between Ibrahim and Jamal and the rest and that’s the former two are mavericks to the letter.

Negative comments in social media about Jamal from Malays have been more about his politics and that to an extent shows how the Malays have changed in the last two or so decades, in particularly Malays who are firmly entrenched as being part of the middle class.

In the Chinese community one known right wing fireband is Hew Kuan Yau, who quit the DAP mid-year after being roundly criticised for his views on which country owns the South China Sea. Read his other opinions and you will agree that he is no different from Jamal or Ibrahim where politics is concerned but the Chinese have not been heard to say sorry for Hew’s behaviour.

Away from Malaysia there’s Nigel Farage in Britain, Pauline Hanson in Australia, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France and yes, Donald Trump in America.

While everyone is free to disagree with Jamal or to despise his antics, why should any Malay apologise to everyone else? The likes of Jamal are everywhere, some worse than the others.

Anyone who sees Jamal as a joke should at least be thankful to him for bringing a smile to your face or for making you laugh, as jokes are wont to do. At least that makes up for a gloomy day.

Ventilate where it’s hot, insulate where it’s cold

Whenever I nag about the lack of ventilation in modern Malaysian homes and buildings, one of my nieces would say “PTA, you complain too much….”

Yes I do and with good reasons.

Drive past most homes even in the rural areas and you will notice how concrete structures have replaced wooden Malay homes and that’s where the problem starts.

A friend from the city who once stayed over at my old family home told me that it was so breezy at night that he had to switch off the fan.

During the rugby 7s at the then MPPJ Stadium as part of the 1998 Commonwealth Games, spectators who had to stand in between the terraces were sweating, despite the venue being an open structure. This was not lost on a westerner beside me who commented “if only you follow traditional Malay architecture we will not be in this situation”.

Anyone who has been inside the stadium’s dressing room, as I did once to meet a team, will never forget the cauldron.

The issue is over how we design our buildings but we’ll talk about this another week.

Happy new year everyone. Be happy, be healthy. There’s no compelling reason why the likes of Jamal Yunos should be allowed to drag you down.

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About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.