The shocking ‘kepala bapak kau’ remark


When a prime minister uses coarse, gutter language like “kepala bapak kau” when addressing a large crowd, and he is all too aware that he is being filmed, it could mean any of the following.

He is angry.

He is rude.

He is reacting to the remarks someone else made.

Perhaps, all of the above.

Nothing anyone says, not even the PM, can justify the use of the words, “kepala bapak kau”. In Malay households, the use of these words are verboten.

One friend, who used this expression was severely reprimanded by his mother and told to wash his mouth out with “Chlorox”. That person was not a child or a wily teenager. He was a forty-year-old married man with two children, and he had scolded his maid for leaving a tap dripping. His own mother heard him, and sent him packing. Those words are not just rude, they are also a sign of a bad upbringing. No wonder, his mother told him off. It reflected on her, too.

What was Prime Minister Najib Razak thinking when he used the three words, “kepala bapak kau” at the 64th MCA annual general assembly recently? Was it for effect?

From the laughing faces and hoots of approval, Najib appeared to be playing to the crowd. This is shocking, but not as shocking as the MCA leadership’s apparent lack of knowledge of the nuances of the Malay language.

Najib’s words were coarse and should never have been uttered by a PM. He sets a poor example and in other parts of the civilised world, a leader who utters these words would be fighting for his political survival. Our MPs appear to think that sexist, ageist, and crude remarks are a legitimate part of a politician’s repertoire.

The remarks, “kepala bapak kau” were uttered when Najib denied that his government had sold off the sovereignty of the nation to the People’s Republic of China.

Najib was enraged by the claim made by the opposition that locals were not allowed to enter the Kuantan Industrial Park land in Gebeng.

A newspaper reported that the local representative, Teruntum assemblyman, Sim Chon Siang, was prevented from visiting the site despite a written request. The project forms part of the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), and Sim’s constituents had complained about the lack of transparency, and that mainly foreign workers and foreign construction material was being used at the site.

The entire project site is surrounded by an eight-foot wall, most of which is topped with steel spikes. Satellite images show that the protective wall is about nine kilometres long. The main, and only, entrance is guarded by men in white uniforms from a local private security firm. Additional security is provided by guards from China, in black uniforms.

Najib’s three little words, were also directed at Mahathir Mohamad’s comments about Forest City in Johor.

Perhaps, Najib should understand the concerns of the locals. The Forest City is reclaimed land, but the target customers are those with money. Locals cannot afford the sort of houses which Forest City offers. Moreover, the mainly foreign owners of Forest City will enjoy the special perks, and tax-free status, which will be denied to the locals.

The homes in Forest City will be sold on a 99-year lease to wealthy foreigners, but for many locals, this is as good as providing them with freehold land. Many of the locals, who own tiny plots of land are still unable to convert these into freehold status.

Najib should stop using crudity to detract from the main concerns which the locals have about these two areas. Is it any wonder that many people, including the opposition, have claimed the nation’s sovereignty has been sold-off?

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.