Politicians move in spheres of great influence and what they say carries weight. However, they are human, and sometimes, they do end up saying things that make us just say, “What?!”
It’s become a yearly tradition here to gather up things our local leaders might have spouted without too much thought, just for reflection and a few chuckles. You can check out our 2014 and 2015 roundups here and here.
Since the year is coming to the close, we’ve put together a list of some of the really ridiculous things local leaders have said in the past 12 months.
1) Azalina Othman: Locals can’t stand very long or work long hours.
When criticism arose against the imminent influx of 1.5 million Bangladesh workers into Malaysia, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman defended this act by saying how this is due to locals being unable to handle the stress of hard labour.
“Locals can’t stand very long or work long hours. They can’t work as welders or do hard labour as they cannot take the stress. It’s the right and timely decision as we badly need the 1.5 million Bangladesh workers,” said Azalina.
The Penang branch of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) went on to criticise this argument. The suggestion that foreign workers can work longer hours than Malaysians goes against labour rights, no matter their nationality.
2) Ibrahim Ali: If Trump can be President, I can be PM.
On November 17, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali mentioned that since Donald Trump had unexpectedly won the US presidential election, he too stood a chance to become prime minister. This was said after he recalled Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed’s previous comparison of him and the US president-elect.
“Previously, Datuk Nur Jazlan labelled me Malaysia’s Donald Trump. Now that Trump is US president, he (Nur Jazlan) is quiet, not even any congratulations,” said Ibrahim.
The former Pasir Mas MP had also mentioned that he was more than qualified to hold the country’s top post, comparing himself to other political leaders. He cited Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, fellow graduates of Universiti Malaya, as examples.
3) Khairy Jamaluddin: Compete for honour, not for cash.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was captured in a photo handing mock cheques with the amounts of RM10 and RM30 to participants from Junior Cycling Malaysia. Many netizens slammed his actions, which led him to give his statement.
“We want them to grow up with the right values and attitude. Yes, money is important and if they do well in sports, they will be financially rewarded later on but let’s not spoil them from when they are young,” said Khairy.
He missed the point though; netizens were angry because they felt such amounts shouldn’t have been put on cheques and given with such pomp and ceremony. It would only show the “stinginess” of the government that way.
4) Hafez Sabri: Selena Gomez too ‘sexy’ for Malaysia.
When news came about Selena Gomez bringing her revival tour to Malaysia, one of the voices that spoke against it belonged to PAS Youth committee. Dakwah committee chairman, Hafez Sabri, proclaimed that the American’s singer’s appearance would tarnish the sanctity of the holy month of Syawal.
“The presence of the American-born singer, who is synonymous with sexy appearances, would tarnish the sanctity of the month of Syawal which is being celebrated in earnest and further stoke the hedonistic culture among the country’s youths,” said Hafez.
Despite the numerous concerns brought up, Selena Gomez held up her end and chose to dress modestly for her performance in Malaysia.
5) Jamal Yunos: May 13 Pledge
It’s hard to pick the darndest statement from Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, Sungai Besar Umno chief, but this might be the winner.
In September 2016, he made a post on his Facebook page pledging that a repeat of the May 13 tragedy—a racially motivated riot—would occur again if the Bersih 5 rally takes place.
“I promise the May 13 tragedy will repeat along with flying parang if Bersih 5 is held at the time, date and place as planned on Nov 19. Long live Malays!” the posting read.
Despite Jamal stating that his account had been tampered with, the fact it remains on his profile caused reactions from various officials like Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar who declared the statement as “seditious”, and pledged zero tolerance.
6) Nawawi Ahmad: My salary is not paid by the people, but is from the government.
Langkawi MP Nawawi Ahmad came under fire when he stated that his salary was not paid by the people but came from the government.
“The salaries of MPs are not paid by the people but the government and the government’s money is not the people’s money. Once money has passed on to another quarter, it is no longer our money. If the government’s money is really the people’s money, let us attack all government departments to take back our money,” he said in a Facebook comment.
Many netizens and government officials gave gone to express their thoughts on this statement, including Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali who explained that the government earned its revenue through taxes paid by the people, therefore the money did indeed belong to the people.
7) Jeff Ooi: Adios Haron Din.
A DAP parliamentarian by the name of Jeff Ooi was caught in a broil after he had made off-colour remarks on his social media concerning the passing of PAS spiritual leader, the late Haron Din. The leader defended himself, arguing that the word “adios” used was not meant with any ill intentions.
“Adios Haron Din. Let there be peace,” read his tweet.
A lot of comments were left afterwards, including from Penang PKR chief Mansor Othman who labelled Ooi’s tweets as “insolent and irresponsible” for poking fun at the death of the late Haron and stated that Penang PKR’s position distanced themselves from Ooi’s foolish action.
8) Khairuddin Aman Razali: Marriage will prevent statutory rape.
PAS cleric, Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, decided that one of the best ways to handle the rising concern over the number of statutory rape cases in Malaysia is by marrying off youths. This was in response to statistics showing 6,910 rape cases from 2013 to 2015, where 52 per cent of the rape cases involved underaged girls, 1,424 in 2013, 1,243 in 2014 and 920 until October this year.
“Marriage is the most potent solution prepared by Islam in curbing this social ill. Society, specifically parents, must encourage and facilitate the marriage of their children. While the Government must help provide incentives to lessen the burden of couples planning to get married,” said Khairuddin.
Sisters in Islam (SIS) responded to this by saying it was irresponsible for Khairuddin to be making such remarks as it suggested that underage rape cases were mostly instances of consent which could be resolved through marriage.
9) JAKIM: The Pretzel Dog Issue
Popular franchise Auntie Anne’s was broiled in trouble when they were denied halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) due to a few reasons, one of them being a food item in their menu containing a non-halal word in it, the ‘pretzel dog’.
Jakim’s Halal Division director Sirajuddin Suhaimee said this is because the department’s assessment panel could not approve the original name of the menu item as it refers to dogs.
“Section 3.7.4 of the Malaysian halal food guidelines states: Halal food and halal artificial flavour shall not be named or synonymously named after non-halal products such as ham, bak kut teh, bacon, beer, rum and others that might create confusion.”
This sparked a variety of responses, one coming from Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz who said that the Muslim faith would not be so easily affected just by consuming a hotdog. He event went on to say that he wanted to eat a hotdog at that moment to further exemplify that this whole thing was blown out of proportion.
10) Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor: Pokemon Go should be declared haram.
When the Pokemon Go craze hit Malaysia, Penang Mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor was one of the first to call for Pokemon Go to be declared ‘haram’ (forbidden) with immediate effect. Wan Salim was quoted as saying that a study by the mufti’s department has shown that the the game held more potential for negative effects rather than the positives.
“Therefore, we hope the National Fatwa Council will ban the game as soon as possible,” he was quoted.
Wan Salim said that there were numerous channels in Islam which could be used to forbid the game, such as Sadd al Dharai (Blocking the means to evil), dar’ul mafasid (closing off the means that can lead to evil), maslahah ‘ammah (for public interest), as well as others.
He said the blocking of the game will be in the name of avoiding harm, and the maintenance of public welfare.
11) Harussani Zakaria: It is a ‘big sin’ to build monuments.
Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria made headlines with his statement that said it was considered ‘haram’ to build monuments featuring the human form. His comments come in the wake of views by his deputy, Zamri Hashim, that it is against Islamic percepts to portray living beings in monuments. Harussani further mentioned that holding ceremonies at the National Monument would border on the lines of idoltary or idol worship.
“From the beginning, we did not agree (with Tugu Negara) as we are an Islamic country. Why are we worshiping monuments?” said Harussani.
12) Johari Abdul Ghani: Fuel increase would have been 20 sen were it not for Najib.
With the recent hike in fuel prices (again), Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said that the government is still subsidising RM400 million for fuel despite the latest increase in retail prices. Johari said the current retail prices for fuel were calculated based on the average price for October which saw a higher increase than what the government set for retail purchase.
And it was all thanks to our prime minister.
“Based on the October price, actually the price increase is supposed to be 20 sen. But Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak feels that we should reduce a little bit (the increase) because we can’t increase too much,” he said.
13) Tajuddin Abdul Rahman: Seputeh MP a woman with a ‘Kok’
An uproar was caused in the Dewan Rakyat when Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman referred to DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok as the only woman with a ‘Kok’ in the middle of a heated debate with opposition MPs over the Bersih 5.0 rally.
“Why is Seputeh going ‘kekekeke’. The only woman with a ‘Kok’ is in Seputeh,” said Tajuddin.
This ignited a fiery response from the Opposition MP’s who demanded for Tajuddin to apologise, with Amanah’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad calling Tajuddin “sial”. Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee refused to reprimand Tajuddin, however, on the grounds that the latter was merely referring to Kok’s “surname”.
14) Ahmad Maslan: Stop complaining about living costs.
Not only did he get backlash from his suggestion for Malaysians to balance two jobs, Deputy Minister of International Trade And Industry Datuk Ahmad Maslan further added fuel when he said for Malaysians to stop whining about their living costs. He added on that there was no country in the world where it would decrease.
“I would like to go to a country that the cost of living last year was 10,000 but this year it goes down to 9,000 and next year to 8,000, there’s no such thing. Cost of living will always increase,” said Maslan.
He implored for Malaysians to focus instead on changing their attitude and learning to supplement their income to deal with a costlier lifestyle.
15) Najib Razak: Zuckerberg may not look it but he is ‘super smart’.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak admitted during a Q&A session at the Wild Digital Conference earlier this year that he did not have a very good first impression of Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook. He had recalled that during his first meeting with Zuckerberg, he had mistakenly judged the social media entrepreneur by his signature simple attire of a plain t-shirt and jeans.
“My initial reaction, he doesn’t look very smart. But actually, he is very smart. He is super smart but doesn’t look very smart,” said Najib.
Najib did however say that his perception changed the second he began talking with Zuckerberg, stating that only when he talked to Zuckerberg and listened to his ideas did he realise that the Facebook boss was quite smart.
BONUS 16) Najib Razak: The Arab Donation Issue
We’re stretching a bit here because there was never any clear statement from Prime Minister Najib Razak himself. However, it was revealed by an UMNO division leader that relating to the RM2.6 billion saga, the funds found in Najib’s private accounts were donated by an “Arab king and prince”.
According to Kepong UMNO division chief Datuk Rizuan Abdul Hamid, the large contribution was given as a political donation by the Arab royal family because of Najib’s anti-Jewish stance and is to be used during Election 2013.
“Because of that, the Arab king, Arab prince generously made the political donation for use during the 13th general election,” said Datuk Rizuan.
Original speculation was that the RM2.6 billion had been from the 1MDB funds, but was refuted after Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) clarified that the funds had come from donors from the Middle East. The commission did not, however, reveal the identity or identities of the donors.
Feature Image Credit: Compiled from financetwitter.com, malaysiakini.com, themalaymailonline.com & imgflip.com