Orang Asli - why urban fat cats like you and I should care

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COMMENT | The news this past week has been all about our former prime minister’s trial, with a side serving of Pakatan Harapan's third straight defeat in Rantau, and the Johor menteri besar shenanigans via a near executive vs royalty face-off.

By all accounts, and the empirical evidence of our 'most-read' algorithm, that’s what interests most of you.

I understand how it works. People generally take an interest in what affects them. In my previous newsroom, we saw that flash floods outside a large Kuala Lumpur mall (without any casualties mind you) got many more shares and likes than an academic treatise on global warming, or the dissection of gender roles in Scandinavian countries.

I think what interests us depends on a sense of connection, be it geographical proximity or shared cultural roots. That might be why Muslims here identify closely with the Palestinian cause, while Chinese Malaysians care about Hong Kong-China relations and Indian Malaysians may be more affected by floods in Kerala.

Having said that, it beats me why so many are so emotional about those Lancashire towns that house Liverpool and Manchester United!

Seriously, whether or not one is more sensitive to inequity that either directly affects us or those we identify with was indicated to me when I twice had to explain to intelligent and experienced journalists that a disproportionate number of Malaysian deaths in custody occurred to Indian men.

“You don’t notice the injustice because it’s not happening to your kind,” I burst out undiplomatically to one of them, who was furious with the implication and countered that I was now viewing too many situations through a racial lens.

I maintained that most injustices did not have a racial angle, but that police brutality and related lockup deaths were an exception, and that this was reflected around the world against marginalised communities – from African-Americans to France’s Arab minority to Australia’s Aborigines...

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