Look before you leap!

Some Malaysians might be oblivious that our words and actions could really stir the pot with our neighbours

pic by TMR FILE

DATUK Shamsubahrin Ismail (picture) must be the most hated man in the whole of Indonesia at the moment after his remarks about our neighbouring nation’s ride hailing riders.

Hundreds of angry Gojek riders in the republic were eager to meet the founder of the Big Blue Taxi Services.

They even rallied to raise funds to pay for his trip to Jakarta.

If it was any other ordinary situation, one might look at it as an all expenses paid holiday. But not in Shamsubahrin’s case.

It all started last month when he allegedly made a statement which did not go down well with the rider-partners of Indonesia’s motorcycle ride-hailing firm and citizens of the country.

In a video clip that went viral in the republic, Shamsubahrin in had described Gojek as a service “only for poor people like in Jakarta, Thailand, India and Cambodia”.

That remark definitely struck the nerve of many. Subsequently, the rider-partners in Indonesia threatened to demonstrate at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta if they did not get an apology from Shamsubahrin himself.

Shamsubahrin eventually relented to pressure after having been bombarded by many messages from Indonesians on his social media accounts.

Last week, the businessman made an open apology at a press conference at his office in Kuala Lumpur.

“Today, I apologise to you, the people of Indonesia, for having labelled you as poor,” he said, adding that he had been contacted by many quarters over the remark.

In his defence, Shamsubahrin said his remark was based on the Indonesian media reports of the economic status of the people in the republic and that it was not his intention to belittle them.

“I hope there is no demonstration in the interests and relationship between both countries. I had no intention to insult the Indonesian people. Both Indonesia and its people are in my heart,” he added.

However, his apology was not good enough for Indonesia’s Gojek riders. In addition to holding a demonstration outside the Malaysian embassy last Tuesday, about 400 Gojek riders had also raised money to fund the expenses of to Jakarta.

According to Gojek spokesperson Theresia Ismiyanti, the riders want Shamsubahrin to come to Jakarta and apologise publicly before them.

Malaysia and Indonesia’s relationship is very much like a marriage. The people of both countries do not hate each other. In fact, we are quite fond of one other.

There is love, but sometimes we bicker. Malaysians can sometimes come across as insensitive. We keep doing things unintentionally that most times will rub the Indonesians the wrong way.

The thing is, we don’t mean any harm and we are not malicious. Some Malaysians might be a little insensitive and oblivious that our words and actions could really stir the pot with our neighbours. But there will always be idiots among us.

Another lesson learnt. The moral of the story: Look before you leap!

Rahman Daros is the supplement editor of The Malaysian Reserve.