New Mandala Associate Editor Mish Khan wades through the fortnight that was in this crazy, chaotic corner of the globe.
This week she showcases the resilience of Jakarta’s netizens, trolley theatrics and fierce & the funny from Facebook
Thai police slam Facebook status by murder victim’s sister
Last week Laura Witheridge, the sister of Thailand ‘Koh Tao’ murder victim Hannah Witheridge, wrote a powerful Facebook post scathingly dismissing the Thai police investigation into the high-profile case as corrupt and mishandled.
Criticising the police’s “bungled” handling of the case, Witheridge revealed her family had been told by the authorities, “Why are you so bothered? Just go home and make another one,” “Why are you here? Why do you care? She is dead already,” and “Why are you making such a fuss, she will be back in 30 days as something else.”
Witheridge also stated that the police had used her family for press photo opportunities under the guise of giving them updates on the investigation.
She also linked to a video by Anonymous accusing Thailand of using the Burmese workers arrested, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, as scapegoats. The post quickly went viral and was shared by many other social media users.
Thai police chiefs have dismissed the allegations and are considering prosecuting Hannah Witheridge over the content of the post. Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, has ordered the International Affairs division to inspect whether the Facebook status had violated any laws.
Jakarta’s un-caped heroes
The aftermath of Thursday’s terrorism attack in Jakarta, which left eight dead, showed the resilience of Indonesia, as netizens quickly rebuilt the city’s sense of security by sharing various hashtags and memes.
Demonstrating they were not intimidated by the attack, people took selfies and photos of street vendors continuing about their business, including satay stall owner Pak Jamal who inspired the meme “keep calm and grill satays” as he stayed on to guard his stall.
Photos of a suave pistol-brandishing policeman at the scene also went viral via the hashtag #PolisiGanteng (#HandsomePolice). The ‘model’ cop was later identified as Commander Teuku Arsya Khadafi, who to the dismay of many turned out to be married; ‘we are sad’ became the next hashtag to break the net.
But as regular New Mandala contributor Ross Tapsell noted, there might be more than meets the eye to such displays. As he told Fairfax Media, in the case of the satay seller it may have been pragmatism rather than defiance that motivated his actions.
“Scholars who look at the impact of the digital divide would explain how those with Internet access can appropriate the motives of those who don’t,” he said.
Hun Seer’s Facebook foresight
Cambodia’s political bickering just reached a new level of wacky. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen shared a four-month old fortune teller’s prediction to his Facebook page on Monday, claiming it had accurately foretold the opposition party’s downfall.
The prediction from September last year, claimed the opposition was destined to fail due to its “dishonest” ways, including using border disputes with Vietnam for political gain in a supposed attempt to “overthrow” the government.
Hun Sen commented, “I would like to send a message that all of you who think they can cheat Hun Sen but who are not yet born not to try and cheat me – you must be honest if you want to play with Hun Sen.”
Opposition spokesman Yem Ponhearith stated the opposition remained unconcerned about the prediction. “The fortune teller has a personal view that has no impact on the Cambodia National Rescue Party.”
Trolley segregation wheels into ridiculous territory
Malaysia’s Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Ministry is considering setting a requirement for all supermarkets to segregate their ‘halal’ and ‘non-halal’ trollies, as well as segregating checkouts along the same lines so that “Muslim consumers are more comfortable and confident in making their purchases.”
The proposal has been received as bizarrely unnecessary and disruptive to national unity.
Consumers polled said they had no issue using either trolley provided that food was packaged properly, stating “If it’s packaged already; then what is the problem? It’s not a religious thing, it’s a Malay sensitivity thing that only extremists will think of.”
Many pointed out that in stores with segregated trolleys, both non-Muslims and Muslims pay no attention to which trolley they use. Supermarket managers also said they had never received complaints from employees about handling non-halal food.
Mish Khan is the Associate Editor of New Mandala and a third-year Asian studies/law student at the Australian National University.