Friday, December 7, 2007
The pieces of racial animosity puzzle seem to be falling in place.
It started with temple demolishing since early 2000. News reports (many international) regularly highlighted this. HINDRAF sent is memos and letters. They complained publicly as well. Small protests were held.
Then it followed with wanton murder of Indians at Kampung Medan, Kelantan (innocent Indian men shot, mistaken for smugglers; pregnant Indian woman shot & killed, mistaken for kidnapper; Indian youth killed and body dumped allegedly by police). HINDRAF took legal action. Small protests were held.
UMNO held its annual meeting over a Public Holiday (Deepavali) and condemned the Indian newspaper vendors for not working on their holy day and thus preventing news paper distribution.
Then the high drama of barbaric destruction of a temple in Shah Alam a few days before Deepavali.
HINDRAF finally reacted very publicly.
Malays are being stirred up – Speeches by Rahim Thamby Chik with regard to Malays taking up machete to defend their racial supremacy (and to think some of you became angry with me when I highlighted threats of mass murder in an earlier posting).
Hindus are being provoked again – Ali Rustam, the Chief Minister of Melaka has ordered the destruction of yet another Hindu temple after the public outpouring of frustration by 30,000 Indians.
Indians are facing collective punishment – 31 alleged rally participants (alleged because some of then claim to have been arrested at roadblocks away from the point of contention (i.e. Batu Caves Temple) are now facing attempted murder charges, a charge almost universally derided by the legal fraternity in Malaysia as being based on bad faith (mala fide) and intimidation. The NAZI party used collective punishment as well.
HINDRAF is linked with terrorism – the Inspector General of Police has, without offering evidence made this statement. One could not but wonder how different this is with professional police forces such as that in the UK where groups are investigated, arrested and charged without all these public announcements a la “development corridor” without basis. We must also ponder why, a nation that had defeated communist terrorist by way of “hearts & minds” would chose such antagonistic means to deal with this “terror” linked group.
PEMBELA warns of Malay anger – why would anyone become angry over unconfirmed report of HINDRAF memorandum’s content is beyond me. But then we specialise in rumour mongering and fitnah. Why be surprised?
No UNMO leader steps forward to offer a calming tone. No UMNO leader is chded for inciting tension.
Possible End Game
HINDRAF, running out of patience, issues ultimatum to government in late Dec 2007 or Jan 2008.
Indians demonstrate on Jan 23rd 2008 Thaipusam festival.
Planted goons attack Muslims praying in a mosque on a Friday, timing it to coincide with Thaipusam week. Nation-wide racial killing commences on the same day.
UMNO announces Emergency Rule. Election postponed indefinitely.
Peace and Prosperity reigns.
History books are updated on HINDRAF’s “treacherous act” and UMNO has another 50 years of reign by reminding Malaysian voters of “Jan 23rd 2008 incident”.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Times of India - 2 Nov 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: A top Malaysian minister has urged local authorities in this Muslim-majority country to immediately cease demolition of Hindu temples after a 100-year-old shrine was pulled down early this week.
Works Minister and head of the Malaysian Indian Congress Samy Vellu, who is of Indian origin, said that Hindu temples built on encroached land were still being demolished despite his appeals to the various state chief ministers. Vellu said the Indian community had no choice but to build their temples on private or government-owned land, as they did not own any land of their own to build the temples.
Referring to the demolition of the Maha Mariamman Templea in Padang Jawa on Tuesday, Vellu said it had hurt the feelings of the Hindu community in the area. Four people were reportedly hurt and dozens detained following scuffles between devotees and the city authorities over the century-old temple, the local media said.
"Temples are still being destroyed even though I have repeatedly brought the issue up during meetings with chief ministers," the minister said in a statement, the New Straits Times said today.
He added that the government could not penalise those who merely wished to practise their religion and exercise their right to believe in God. "It is a well-known fact that the majority of Hindu voters, and almost the entire Indian community in fact, are Barisan Nasional (the ruling coalition) supporters.
"As such, I am pleading with the government to not resort to drastic measures like demolishing temples, even though they have been constructed illegally."
The destruction of Hindu temples by Malaysian authorities is inflaming religious tensions. Rights groups and politicians say that anger is growing among the country's minority Hindu community as temples, many of historic value, are bulldozed at the rate of at least one every few weeks to make way for new developments.
Hindu groups have appealed to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the prime minister, to halt the destruction and respect the rights of religious minorities in mainly-Muslim Malaysia, but concern is growing that the situation will become volatile. Waytha Moorthy, the chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force, which lobbies on behalf of affected temple groups, said that "at the moment, devotees are pleading and crying, but eventually they will not plead and cry anymore".
"We are worried if people get emotional about it, they will resort to other means. They have come to us for help, but eventually we will also fail unless the government intervenes." Thousands of temples About half of Malaysia's 26 million people are Malay, who are almost all Muslim, 8% are Indians - mostly Hindus - and 24% Chinese, with indigenous and others making up the rest. The country has thousands of Hindu temples and shrines, many built on private or plantation land by Indian migrant labourers before the country gained independence from Britain in 1957.
The land has since been acquired by local councils or state authorities, who argue the temples are illegal buildings and have been knocking them down. Hindu groups say the nationwide destruction of temples has been going on for years, but that demolitions in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan have accelerated lately. The government, under fire for bulldozing temples with police assistance, said it had demolished three since February to make way for road projects and a low-cost housing development.
Another three are due to be demolished over the next few months but in consultation with Hindu groups over how it should take place, said Mohamad Amin Abdul Aziz, City Hall's deputy director-general.
"The land belongs to the government and the government has to build roads, schools and bridges," he said. "We are a liberal society and I respect all religions. I want them to have a temple of their own, but they should go through the proper channels," he said, adding groups had to build on land gazetted for temples or buy land privately.
But Hindu groups argue that the authorities should permanently relocate the temples, some of which are more than 100-years-old, and are used by devotees from lower income groups who cannot afford to buy land.
In a sign of growing frustration, some 50 Hindus, including women and children, held a rare protest in front of City Hall late last month to complain their religious rights were being trampled on. TM Ramachandran, the Southeast Asia organiser for Hindu Sevai Sangam, a group that counsels young people, said Hindus were being "suppressed" and left little room to negotiate over temple relocations.
"More than being angry, we are very frustrated because we are also citizens of this country," said Ramachandran. "We have been very, very tolerant for so many years with these things happening. They've really pushed us to the wall."
The unrest over the demolitions follows the controversial Muslim burial in December of an ethnic Indian mountaineering hero, M Moorthy, over the protests of his Hindu wife who said he had never converted to Islam. The incident raised ethnic tensions and accusations from Malaysia's religious minorities that their rights were being undermined by what they say is growing Islamic conservatism.
Human rights group Aliran has also warned the demolitions could ramp up religious and racial tensions in a country which constantly working to maintain ethnic harmony. After the Moorthy case, "such demolitions could also reinforce the feeling among members of cultural minorities that their democratic and religious space is slowly and unjustly being squeezed", Aliran said.
S Paranjothy, the deputy chief of the youth arm of the Gerakan party which is a member of Malaysia's ruling coalition, said he feared tensions over the demolitions would spill over into a repeat of previous communal violence.
"You are pushing people and some of them may be fearful, but others may not tolerate this ... anything can happen" S Paranjothy, deputy chief Gerakan party youth arm.
The so-called 1978 Kerling incident saw Hindu devotees killing a group of five conservative Muslims who were caught desecrating a temple. "You are pushing people and some of them may be fearful, but others may not tolerate this," he said. "If they carry on like this, there will be a repeat of this.
The other time it was only five that died, but the next time 50 or 100 may die. You never know, anything can happen.
Washington, November 26
The USA has said the militant attacks on temples in Jammu were further attempts to undermine the new government in Jammu and Kashmir while Russia squarely put the onus on Pakistan for ending terrorism in the state.
Condemning the attack as horrific and yet another instance of senseless violence, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that “violence will not solve Kashmir’s problems nor will terrorism achieve the political goals of any group.”
“These despicable attacks are further attempts to undermine the new state government, which is trying to reduce tensions and promote reconciliation,” he said.
“We are shocked by the several terrorist attacks over the weekend in Jammu and Kashmir, in particular the horrific attack on Sunday on worshippers in a Hindu temple in Jammu,” he said.
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry in a hard hitting statement asked Pakistan to honour its anti-terror obligations.
“We underscore that full implementation of their (Pakistan) obligations to eradicate terrorist infrastructure in the country by the Paksitani authorities — is the foremost condition for ending terrorist acts in Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said.
The temple attack in Jammu and last month’s Moscow theatre siege in which 130 hostages were killed “are the links of the same chain of crimes” committed by international terrorism posing the main threat to global peace and security, including in South Asia.
Moscow also put the blame for the “heinous crime” in Jammu on the forces striving to scuttle the tendency of de-escalation of tension between India and Pakistan
Thu Dec 6, 6:12 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US Congress-appointed commission expressed concern Thursday at the destruction of Hindu temples and other alleged discrimination faced by religious minorities in predominantly-Muslim Malaysia.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the administration of President George W. Bush to raise the matter with Kuala Lumpur and "insist that immediate measures be taken to protect sacred sites and prevent further destruction."
The commission said it was "concerned" by recent Malaysian government actions against the
ethnic Indian Hindu minority "curtailing their human rights, including the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
"Continued discrimination against members of the ethnic Indian Hindu minority, including the destruction of sacred places and images, only fuels religious unrest and intolerance," said commission chairman Michael Cromartie.
At least 8,000 ethnic Indians protested in the streets of Kuala Lumpur about two weeks ago to highlight racial and religious discrimination by the Muslim Malay-dominated government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Malaysian rights group which organized the rally, claimed one temple was being demolished every three weeks.
Police dispersed the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, and witnesses said some demonstrators were beaten with batons.
Abdullah accused ethnic Indian activists of stirring up racial conflict and threatened to use a draconian law to detain protestors indefinitely without trial.
The US commission, a non-partisan panel appointed by the US president and leaders of Congress, noted that in late October, Malaysian authorities demolished a 100-year-old temple and reportedly assaulted its chief priest.
Just this week, another temple in Malacca state was demolished by local authorities despite having received a "stay order" from state officials, the commission said.
It asked the Bush administration to get an assurance from the Malaysian authorities that no charges would be filed against the organizers of the demonstrations.
"Malaysia should ensure that internationally protected rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion are protected," it said.
The commission also said that Kuala Lumpur's Islamic courts have expanded their jurisdiction in recent years, threatening secular Malaysia's civil courts and the country's commitment to religious pluralism.
"Because the (Malaysian) constitution deems that all Malays are Muslim, the sharia courts have weighed in on a number of high-profile cases involving conversion, marriage, divorce, child custody, and burial rights of non-Muslims," it said
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
HINDRAF BELIEVES IN MALAYSIAN CONSTITUTION AND SEMANGAT MUHIBBAH
HINDRAF is fully supportive of the inalienable rights of the Malay Rulers and Malay Special Rights as provided for in the Malaysian Constitution.
HINDRAF recognises that the Malay population still require economic support to eradicate poverty.
HINDRAF recognises that Malaysia has a unique history and that we have a unique Muhibbah way of managing our issues and challenges.
HINDRAF recognises that the majority of Malaysian of all races is fair and friendly.
HINDRAF recognises that the majority of Malaysian Muslims are not seeking the annihilation of other religions and cultures in Malaysia.
HINDRAF is highlighting the pain and suffering of the Indian community which have been neglected and left behind by the ruling Barisan Nasional, led by UMNO.
HINDRAF is seeking a complete halt to temple demolishing which UMNO is using as a tool to garner support from the Malays and Muslims.
HINDRAF is seeking a complete halt on the attacks aimed at other entities (e.g. Christian Missionary Schools) that have contributed so much to the national development.
HINDRAF states that certain UMNO leaders are attacking the Hindu temple as an attempt to shore up their own political support and garner votes from unsuspecting Muslims and Malays.
HINDRAF states that certain UMNO leaders are threatening mass murder of the non-Malays as a means to improve their own shadowed political fortunes and to assert their racial supremacy.
HINDRAF recognises that Islam requires all to be treated equally and fairly and Islam does not support racial supremacy.
HINDRAF warns UMNO politicians to be aware of the possibility of them being hauled up to the international justice arena or having their freedom curtailed for promoting Racial Supremacy and Cultural/Religious Destruction in Malaysia.
Because of the bizarre apartheid of Malaysia, all citizens are given an identity card, called MyKad, at the age of 12. This card states the holder's race and religious status.
Thursday, November 23, 2006 By Adrian Morgan
On Wednesday November 15 the ruling party in Malaysia, UMNO ((United Malays National Organization), began its 57th three-day-long annual conference at the Putra Center, Kuala Lumpur. Issues brought up at the conference served to reinforce the racial apartheid which has been a bedrock of Malaysia's politics since its independence from Britain on August 31, 1957.
UMNO was founded on May 11, 1946. Its core belief is that of the "ketuanan Melayu" an ideology which states that the Malay people, who are all regarded as "Muslim" are the original and defining populace of Malaya, and thus should have special status and privileges. This is in defiance of logic, as native peoples, the Orang Asli, have lived in the peninsula of Western Malaysia, particularly in Kelantan State, long before the Malay Muslims arrived in the 14th century.
UMNO cannot rule on its own. Despite its bias towards Malays and Islam, it has to share power in a coalition, called the Barisan Nasional or "National Front". This includes the MIC, the Malaysia Indian Congress, which has been in existence since 1946, and also MCA, the Malaysian Chinese Association, which has been the second largest partner in the Barisan Nasional coalition since 1996. There are ten other smaller parties in the Barisan Nasional (BN).
UMNO has ruled uninterrupted since independence, in association with other parties. Any political problems which beset Malaysia can therefore be laid at the door of UMNO.
Demographically, Malays comprise 50.8% of the population of 26 million, followed by Chinese 23.8%, Indigenous 10.9%, Indian 7.1%, and non-Malaysian citizens 6.8%. In religious terms, 60% of the population is Muslim, with Buddhists comprising 19.2%, Christians 9.1%, Hindus 6.3%, and Confucians (Taoists) 2.6%. The other faiths comprise only 2.8% of the demographic.
Because of the bizarre apartheid of Malaysia, all citizens are given an identity card, called MyKad, at the age of 12. This card states the holder's race and religious status, details which are then held at the National Registration Department (NRD). All Malays are automatically classed as Muslims.
No Muslim is legally allowed to convert from Islam. The Islamic courts (Syariah Courts) control issues such as apostasy and issues of marriage and other issues. The NRD will not allow recognition of a person's conversion out of Islam, unless such a process has been authorized by the Syariah Courts. And so far, these courts have refused to allow any Muslims to apostasize.
Famous converts such as Lina Joy and Kamariah Ali are still battling with the courts for their rights to be acknowledged as "non-Muslims". Such rights do not exist in Malaysia. Article 11 of the country's constitution states that anyone can follow any religion of their choosing. However in 1988, an amendment (1A) was made to Article 121, which stated that the civil courts have no
no jurisdiction over "any matter" which falls under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Courts.
The 13 states of Malaysia have mostly adopted the Control and Restriction Bill, which gives a fine of 10,000 ringit ($2,653) or imprisonment for up to one year for "persuading, influencing a Muslim to leave Islam for another religion." On August 23, a week before independence, Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, ordered that the "constitutional law" which forbids others to spread religions other than Islam to the Muslims must be streamlined nationwide.
Aziz said that the states of Sarawak, Sabah, Federal Territory and Penang had not yet adopted the legislation, saying: "There is no reason for these states to delay adopting the law. The Federal Constitution must be fully adhered to but religion is a state matter which is under the purview of the respective state governments. Therefore, to enforce the Federal Constitution on religion would require all the government of the states to amend their constitutions and adopt the law first." He added: "Why (do we have) to interpret (the constitution) when it is clearly said that (non-Muslims) are not allowed to spread religions other than Islam to the Muslims?"
In March, Aziz had said that anyone who criticised Islam would be tried under the Sedition Act, a legacy of British colonial rule, which existed in Malaysia before its independence in 1957. The penalty for transgressing against the Sedition Act can be three years in prison, with an additional fine of up to 5,000 ringit or $1,350.
Article 3(1) of the constitution states that "other religions may be practiced in peace and
harmony in any part of the Federation". For those of other religions, there is little sense of harmony, and many feel under attack both from politicians and Islamists.
On August 26, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is head of UMNO and also is Minister of Internal Security said people should not even question the contradictions of the constitution. "My advice to everyone is to stop (raising such issues). Do not create a situation that can lead to difficulties. Difficulties will make everyone apprehensive," he said.
Badawi continued: "Adhering to the articles will not create any problem. Discussing these articles again.... this will cause a storm if left unchecked. I have stated that there is no necessity to amend Article 121 ... there is no necessity to amend Article 11. These cause problems between one side and the other." Badawi condemned the Article 11 Forum, a multi-faith grouping of eleven organizations, which had campaigned to change the Islamo-supremacist aspects of the constitution.
The issue of UMNO's adherence to the apartheid ideology of "ketuanan Melayu", despite its union with the Chinese MCA and the Hindu MIC, were bound to be exploited in its 57th annual conference.
The elderly head of the Youth Movement of UMNO (ABIM) made the biggest gesture of racial/religious supremacy. Last year, he waved a ceremonial sword, or keris at the conference. And this year he did the same (pictured). On the eve of the conference, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein pledged to defend the sovereignty of Islam and the rights of Malays. Hussein is also the Education Minister. Hussein condemned a proposal which had been made, to form an Inter-Faith Commission.
The president of ABIM, Yusri Mohamad, confirmed at the conference that UMNO Youth would "defend the sovereignty of Islam" as specified in the Federal Constitution's Article 11 and 121 (1A). Mohamad said: "His (Hishammuddin) caution to the Article 11 Group, and groups who are actively stirring religious and sensitive issues should have raised awareness that the Malay-Muslim community's status is constantly under threat."
Mohamad said that demand for freedoms, such as the right to change faiths and the formation of an Inter-Faith Commission showed no respect for Muslims' "sensitivity".
Another speaker on the first day of the conference, UMNO veteran Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, secretary-general of the party, also spelled out the racism and Islamofascism of UMNO. He warned the other affiliates within the Barisan Nasional to avoid testing the Malays' patience, and even invoked the threat of "amuk" - a Malay tradition of ritual insanity and killing.
He said: "Please, don't test the Malays; in another word that they know 'amuk'. We don't want to reach that level. In the present situation, the Malays can still take it but efforts to enhance the Malays' economy need to be intensified."
He said that members of other races and religions had to make sacrifices, until Malay Muslims were compensated for their (imagined sacrifices). The reference was a dig at the Chinese, who hold most of the wealth.
Rahmat said: "If the Malays' economic power cannot be balanced out, we will face worrying situations....Don't let it reach a situation where the Malays start questioning 'with the sacrifices we have made, what have we got?'. That's also the question that is very important to be answered."
He advised the other Barisan Nasional parties not to question the "Malay Agenda" or "ketuanan Melayu". He said: "We hope MCA and Gerakan (another Chinese party) adopt the BN spirit. There is no need for us to champion racial interests and be extremely racist, because they will not bring profits."
Rahmat said that meetings had resolved previous contentious issues. He said; "We didn't discuss sensitive matters outside, used the media and press. It would have appeared we were quarrelling. It's something not right."
The Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, also said that he would take strict action against any group which dared to question the status of Islam in Malaysia. He warned against any attempts to use Islam to promote intolerance, but also said that he would protect the Islamic (Syariah) courts from being undermined.
Badawi supports a notion of Islam which is called "Islam Hadhari", or "civilizational Islam", which believes that a quasi-moderate Islam can be used to promote culture and development in Malaysia, and could be exported as an example to other nations.
He said on Wednesday, November 15: "Unfortunately, some parties had misinterpreted Islam Hadhari as an excuse to become more conservative and more radical. Long-accepted cultural practices like wishing (well) other Malaysians of different religions in conjunction with their festivals had now been deemed taboo."
"Have we reached such a level of intolerance? Joint open houses are now condemned. When did we become ultra-conservative? This is not Islam Hadhari. Such an outlook threatens the unique tolerance for which Malaysian Muslims are renowned for and this should not be allowed to
Badawi spoke of the issue of SMS messages which had recently been circulated, which had falsely alleged that mass Christian baptisms of Muslims had taken place. He said that "of late, we see increased polemics on issues related to race and religion. And it has reached a level where it is now worrying."
The following day, Badawi tried to reassure people that there was not a "worrying" level regarding race and religion. He told reporters on Thursday, November 16: "Not worrying level as far as I am concerned but it is time to remind the people and to lay down the ground rule and that is exactly I have said (at the conference)."
"If it has come to such a level as has been described, it will be even more difficult to control at that time."
Badawi was asked about UMNO Youth's rejection of an Inter-Faith Commission. He replied that the cabinet had discussed the matter before. He said: "The word we used was we postpone. We've no plans to revive the matter. It is as good as not having it. To me, I will meet them, I also want to meet the (Islamic) religious groups. After that, I will meet the non-muslim groups. That's important."
On Saturday, November 19, the president of the Chinese MCA party, Ong Ka Ting, said that Badawi had given a "clear message that no one race can rule the country alone. The way we fought for Merdeka (independence) together, Umno, MCA and MIC, and the concept of kongsi kuasa (power sharing) as consented by our party veterans must be upheld."
Ong, who is the Housing and Local Government Minister, said: "The PM has again demonstrated the spirit of a leader for all Malaysians."
Despite such official support, the 57th annual conference on UMNO, which had been broadcast throughout Malaysia, has raised more questions than it has allayed fears.
Articles published by Reuters, Asia Times and Associated Press suggest that the issues of race and religion are creating more problems than UMNO and Barisan Nasional representatives will publicly admit.
Even Badawi's son-in-law has exploited racial divisions to subject the Chinese groups, already resented for their success in the economy, to further mistrust. 31year old Khairy Jamaluddin is deputy chief of UMNO's youth wing, ABID. In September, he said that Chinese political groups would exploit any splits within UMNO. When questioned about this, he had responded: "What is there to apologize for?...I am only defending my race."
The sight of Hishammudin Tun Hussein waving a keris in the air, broadcast through the nation, also raised concerns. One UMNO delegate at the conference, Hashim Suboh, had said: "Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?"
The threats made by Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat to force the non-Muslims (Chinese) to make sacrifices financially to assist the Malay Muslims, who have failed to make economic progress, only highlights how destitute the ruling party's economic policies really are.
UMNO had formerly been led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003).
He had been a hardliner who blamed Jews for Malaysia's problems, but still had encouraged economic development. This year Mahathir has been deliberately forced into the shadows by Badawi, seen as a liability with his rash statements and intrusions on matters of policy. Following a recent heart attack, Mahathir has become further marginalised.
In the face of rising Islamization, UMNO is failing to address the nation's problems realistically. Relying upon Hindus and Chinese to stay in power, its acceptance of the policies of destroying Hindu temples since April, and more recently the destruction of a Taoist temple in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, only serve to alienate the minorities in the so-called multi-racial state. The Nine Emperor Gods Taoist temple was relocated last year because its land had been sold to a property developer. It was demolished on Friday, November 18. Police fired shots at Chinese protesters as they supervised the destruction of the temple.
On Wednesday November 22 the cabinet questioned the wisdom of allowing the UMNO conference to be broadcast live. The Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, said that at least three of the speeches from the conference could "be classified as extreme."
He told reporters: "The Cabinet has come to the opinion that there are more negative than positive implications in opening the proceedings to a live telecast. It paints an inaccurate picture of the general assembly."
On May 13, 1969, race riots between Chinese and Malays began in Kuala Lumpur. These only subsided in late July, after at least 196 people had been killed and many women had been raped. As a result of the riots, parliament was suspended until 1971.
The government had then blamed the introduction of the New Economic Policy, or NEP, for the conflict. This policy of affirmative action to promote Malay Muslims into jobs, at the expense of the Chinese, was intended to last for only 20 years, but has been indefinitely prolonged since then.
The speeches at the UMNO conference have only reminded the nation that the conditions which led to the 1969 racial situation are still in place.
Abdullah Badawi has asked for meetings with editors of Chinese-language and Malay editors of newspapers, where he is expected to ask them to "tone down" their reporting of religious and racial issues.
Lim Kit Siang, leader of the DAP (Democratic Action Party), the main opposition party, said on Friday, November 18: "If a Malaysian Chinese or Indian politician had warned of riots, being prepared to shed blood or even going amok, the Internal Security Act would have been invoked."
Malaysia's 49 years of independence have been marked by the Islamist and racist policies of UMNO. The Malay Muslims are given special rights in its policy of "ketuanan Melayu", the "Malay Agenda". It seems that only now is it starting to realize that such a racist agenda - when actual ethnic Malays only comprise 50.8% of the population - can only help to destroy a country, not to build it up.
Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Times of India
28 Nov 2007, 1136 hrs IST,
When Hindus gathered courage and protested in an unprecedented solidarity on November 26 in Kuala Lumpur, they were crushed brutally by the Malay police using chemicals in the water cannons. None of those who had put up a united front against a cartoon created in Denmark felt anything bad or condemnable in the injustices meted out to the Hindus in an Islamic country. When it's a question of Hindus getting unfair treatment in a Muslim majority region, the 'civil, sophisticated and articulate' Muslim intellectuals take refuge in the statement that it's a matter concerning a foreign country. But when it's a question regarding a cartoon or a fatwa for beheading a writer, they say -we are a global Ummah, anything happening anywhere to Muslims is our common concern! All big lies and a bigger hypocrisy traded in the name of a religion.
This year Diwali was not celebrated openly by Malaysian Hindus in protest against the demolition of one of their most revered shrines, the hundred-year-old Maha Mariamman temple in Padang Jawa. In the last fifteen years, hundreds of Hindu temples have been demolished and the number of forcible conversions and unfair treatment on religious grounds has been constantly increasing. The tragic case of Revathi was just a recent one. Moorthy Maniam was a Malaysian Hindu hero. After he died, a group of Muslims claimed he'd made a deathbed conversion. Despite his widow's protests, the Sharia courts declared that he should be buried as a Muslim. “They used Moorthy to show that in this country, Islam is supreme", complained his lawyer.
In the 1980s, Malaysia's Sharia courts were given equal power to the civil courts, creating two parallel legal systems. But while the Sharia courts are constantly trying to extend their authority, secular courts are reluctant to challenge them. Malaysia which tries to woo Indian tourists with an aggressive media campaign claiming-it's a 'truly Asian' destination, has become a hotbed of Islamic intolerance and barbarities on non-Muslims. It has sixty per cent Muslim population with Chinese, mostly Buddhists, comprising twenty-five per cent. Malaysiana of Indian origin constitute about eight per cent and Tamil Hindus are ninety per cent amongst the Indian origin population.
There is a fair number of Indian Muslims too. Indian Malaysians were taken there by the British as plantation workers in the late nineteenth century and have now become an inseparable part of Malaysian life. In fact, from the second century to the 14th century, Malay Peninsula has seen Hindu kingdoms and a way of life beautifully expressed in arts, culture, language and Shaivite values. Sanskrit's influence over their language is visible all over, yet the Malay Muslims choose to express their affinity with the Arabs and deny their ancestral heritage. Politically, Indian-origin Malays follow the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), established in 1946 as an instrument of independence from the British rule.
Malaysia, freed in 1957, remained a practising pluralistic society till Islamic fundamentalism grew in the last two decades bringing Arab money and intolerance with it. Now it has parallel Islamic courts, functioning along with the civil ones, which are obviously more influential. Malaysian Hindus have their leader in Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, president of the MIC and a minister in the14-party coalition government who mustered courage to protest against temple demolitions by declaring a 'private' Diwali this year. However, instead of being supported by the country’s Muslim intelligentsia, he was booed, and in a rally addressed by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, people demanded his ouster from the cabinet as a 'trouble maker'.
Hindus seems to be losing hope on all fronts and are making last-ditch efforts to attract attention by any which way to their sorry state of affairs. An umbrella organisation of thirty Hindu NGOs has been formed under the banner of Hindu Rights Action Force or HINDRAF that had called for the successful demonstration on November 26. Earlier a court had banned the rally – but HINDRAF workers – gathered in an unprecedented number – twenty thousand by a modest count –defied the ban and had their voice heard throughout the world.
A nation, which has seen centuries of Hindu influence nurturing its socio-cultural milieu, suddenly turned against her own people when Arab-Islamic influence grew, resulting in the dispossession of minority rights. It has tried now to completely eradicate its Hindu history being taught in the schools, including the descriptions regarding ancient Ganga Negara (2nd to 11th century), Langka Asuka(2nd to 14th century) and Sri Vijaya empire(3rd to 14th century) in different parts of the earlier greater Malay Peninsula.
It's a reflection of India's secular government that the Malaysian Hindus of Indian origin chose to knock at the British doors, strangely petitioning the British government, Malaysia's former colonial ruler, to pay two million dollars each to every Indian-origin Malay as compensation for 'putting them in a situation of darkness and exploitation' which was a result of bringing their ancestors as indentured labourers a century before. They are discriminated on religious grounds and economic opportunities are not available to them. "Over the years Indians have been marginalised in this country and we now want the same rights as enjoyed by other communities,"
M. Kulasegaran, opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party (DAP), told the media. "This gathering is unprecedented, this is a community that can no longer tolerate discrimination." said HINDRAF leader P. Uthayakumar. The demonstrators had gathered at Batu Caves Hindu temple and many of them carried posters of Mahatma Gandhi. But, sadly, there was no murmur amongst the Indian authorities in Delhi or in their High Commission in Kuala Lumpur about it.
Indian secularism prevents South Block to go vocal on injustices meted out to Indian-origin people if they happen to be Hindus. Only Muslim sensibilities are deemed fit to be entertained by Indian envoys abroad. This message further emboldens the jihadi intolerant rulers to take Hindus in their country for granted as a forlorn people for whom none would bother. Malaysian Chinese are given a voice by Singapore's influential leaders of Chinese origin like Lee Kuan Yew and Christians get full support from the US, UK and other European governments. Only Hindus, who have no other country on this earth but India to look upon for any moral support, are left abandoned.
Sometimes I feel amazed to see that how highly educated people who shine in politics and academics can be so ruthless towards their own fellow citizens as to deny them basic human rights. Like a place of worship and a choice to adhere to a faith of choice. Why have the societal ruptures been so visibly strong in countries where Islamists form majority? We have enough such examples from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Malaysian incidents that have a common thread – wherever the Muslims are in majority the rights and freedom of the non-Muslims are severely curtailed.
Take for example Kashmir. It's the only state in India which is a Muslim majority and see what happened there. Hundreds of temples were razed, Hindus were forced to flee, their women were raped, children were killed and houses forcibly occupied. The Muslims in Kashmir have been enjoying a special status under Constitution's Article 370, hardly any central law is enforced there, the number of income-tax payers is among the lowest and unlike other poor states, J&K gets 90 per cent central financial assistance as grants and only 10 per cent as loans. Still there are complaints that a 'Hindu central government discriminates'.
The other minority, Buddhists mostly located in Ladakh , too, are harshly treated and discriminated against by the mainly Sunni Muslim governance in Srinagar. The Buddhist Association, Leh, has been submitting memorandums to the central government about how Buddhist youths are denied jobs and a fair chance to join the Kashmir Administrative service and professional colleges in spite of clearing the entrance exams. The number of Buddhist minorities is fast decreasing causing concern amongst their leaders. Even their dead are not allowed to be buried in Muslim-majority Kargil area and monasteries have been denied to be built. If that can happen in a Hindu majority India's Muslim majority state, one can imagine the position of Hindus in a Muslim majority country like Pakistan.
A report of the United Nations Committee on the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) says, 'The Constitution of Pakistan segregates its citizens on the basis of religion; and provides preferential treatment to the Muslims. While Article 2 of the Constitution declares Islam as "the State religion of Pakistan" and the Holy Quran and Sunnah to be "the supreme law and source of guidance for legislation to be administered through laws enacted by the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies, and for policy-making by the Government", under Article 41(2) only a Muslim can become President. Further, Article 260 of the Constitution differentiates "Muslim" and "Non-Muslim" thereby facilitating and encouraging discrimination on the basis of religion.
The Constitution is so glued to providing preferential treatment to the majority Muslims that even a Hindu judge has to take the oath of office in the name of "Allah". On 24 March 2007, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, a Hindu, while being sworn in as Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, being the senior most judge after the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had to take oath with a Quranic prayer - "May Allah Almighty help and guide me, (A'meen)". The Hindus and Hinduism have been maligned and hatred against them is propagated in the text books approved by the National Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education. Among others, Hindus have been stated as "enemy of Islam" in the textbooks of Class V.
I hate to look disillusioned and always try to see something positive and hopeful for my columns but to avoid the smoke around your neck is as calumnious as to see bad where everything is otherwise resplendent with nobility. Last week I met an important Malaysian foreign dignitary over lunch at Taj Chambers, when during the course of our discussion about Asians, I mentioned the plight of Malaysian Hindus. He simply rubbished all that had appeared in the international newspapers and channels saying 'small matters are presented hundred times larger than the real quantum of gravity'. 'We are a very tolerant society'. Really?
More on Malaysian Hindus
By RAMESH N. RAO, FARMVILLE, Va., Dec. 3
Last week when I wrote about the brutal police action against the peaceful Hindu demonstration, I was not aware of the even more ugly police action against Hindus the same day, early in the morning, at the Subramaniar temple in the Batu Caves where Hindus had gathered to prepare for the day's march to Kuala Lumpur. The police herded the Hindus using batons and then teargased them. The pictures speak for themselves. The Star newspaper, which has been accused by the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) leaders recently reported that the Malaysian government is unhappy that one of the HINDRAF leaders has now decided to take the case of Hindus in Malaysia to other countries, starting with India. Mr. Waytha Moorthy, the HINDRAF leader, who is now in India, has had some traction because it so happens that the largest Hindu group in Malaysia is comprised of Tamils, and the state government in Tamil Nadu is a partner with the Congress Party in New Delhi.
Without the nudging by Mr. Karunanidhi, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who is more interested in Tamils as fellow ethnics than as Hindus, the Indian government would have hesitated to open its mouth. It did open its mouth tentatively, and was quickly scolded by the Malaysian government for interfering in Malaysia's internal affairs. The "elephant in the room," of course, is that ethnic Tamils have been battling brutally the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka, and Malaysia might claim that what has happened in Sri Lanka could happen in Malaysia. The Sinhalese suppressed the Tamils through state policy and action, and they have been reaping a bloody crop for the past 30 years.
Tamil history in Malaysia is not merely the 150-year-old history of indentured laborers. Their presence in Malaysia dates back 2,000 years, and the Hindu influence was the strongest between 100 BCE and 1400 CE. But by branding themselves as a Muslim nation, and providing special privileges and rights to its Muslim citizens, Malaysia has created a two-tier system, and as a new acquaintance, a doctor in the D.C. area, told me, she and her husband decided to leave Malaysia because of what they saw as the creeping Islamization of the country and the shrinking opportunities for growth and advancement for Hindus and others. Islamic dispensation around the world is authoritarian, oppressive and violent, despite loud protestations to the contrary by many suave Muslims and blinkered "progressives."
Complaints and criticism of Islam by Muslims like Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Irshad Manji are dismissed because these people are now simply labeled non-Muslims. Anyone who does not accept the Koran as God-given and perfect automatically becomes a non-Muslim, and the Muslim critics who have sought and fought hard to bring about changes in Islamic dispensation are conveniently ignored as heretics and apostates. They have to therefore scurry out of the reach of the murderous "faithful" who invoke Muhammad and Allah for their blood-thirst.
The latest victim of such blood-lust is Taslima Nasreen, the Bangladeshi author, who is now being hounded, again, in India, her new home of choice. She is seeking to make peace with these "faithful" Muslims by asking her publishers to remove "offending passages" from one of her books. "Islam is a religion of peace. There are only a few, individual Muslims, who have sought to use violence in the name of Islam. It is not the religion, but some of its practitioners that are violent." The mantra is repeated ad nauseam. Reject it at your own peril. Don't you dare remind these Muslim sophists what happens in the Holiest of Holy places of Islam, Saudi Arabia to non-Muslims, what happens to apostates, and what happens to 18-year-old rape victims. Forget Ibn Warraq, Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Taslima Nasreen. Forget, too, the thousands of Hindu temples in India destroyed in the name of Islam in the past, and the hundreds now being destroyed in Malaysia. Peace be unto you. ... -- -- --
Ramesh N. Rao is professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre at Longwood University, Farmville, Va. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of the institution to which he belongs.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
We have been killed before – May 13 1969 killing of the minorities was initiated by UMNO leader Harun Idris as a response to street taunts from roaming groups of minorities who were celebrating their electoral victory. The taunts were aimed at the Malays. As a response to these uncalled for taunts, the Malays reacted violently, killing hundreds of minorities. The subsequent (and expected) violent response from the minorities resulted in some Malay deaths. Published articles and books support this statement.
We were killed again – in March 2001, six Indians were killed by a Malay mob and 42 others injured as a response to a small misunderstanding. There have been no arrests, prosecution or formal reckoning of this event. Published news articles and analyses support this statement.
We are promised mass death at every opportunity – every year the UMNO Youth Leader raises his dagger and kisses it to sow fear in the hearts of the minorities during UMNO annual assembly. This is cheered loudly by the participants of this annual hate festival with enquiries from the floor as to when the dagger will bathe minorities’ blood go unchecked. This is further reinforced by open threats issues by UMNO ministers via the print media promising the same, only sometimes in a more circumspect manner but carrying the same threat of a repeat of “May 13”. Published news articles support this statement.
We are asked to leave Malaysia regularly – almost every other week one UMNO individual or another finds it necessary to call the minorities to “pack up and leave” Malaysia, despite these minorities being full-fledged Malaysian citizens. Published news articles support this statement.
Our cultural and educations rights are choked – we are prevented from building new places of worship. When some are allowed, these buildings are not allowed to carry obvious icons (e.g. a church cannot have a steeple or a cross, thus making these appear like a warehouse or shop lots). The Hindu temples are being destroyed systematically on the basis of illegal structures, not withstanding the fact that the illegality is in itself illegal as the structures were built prior to any planning submissions were in place. Published news articles, first person eye witness comments, video recording etc support this statement.
UMNO government has not signed key international treaties - Malaysia is not a signatory of the Human Rights Declaration, not a signatory of International Criminal Court and not a signatory of United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Based on the preceding statements, which are factual, one must conclude that although there is no sustained genocide or ethnic cleansing currently in progress in Malaysia, elements of such an event are already in place.
The minorities in Malaysia obviously have learned from what has happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany, Serbian Nationalist led Bosnia genocide, Cambodian genocide and what the Hutus did to the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.
Surely the Prime Minister does not expect the minorities to wait until genocide happens before reacting?
Instead of being angry at memorandum purportedly written by HINDRAF, the leader should look at his political party’s history of using threats of ethnic cleansing and take the necessary actions to stop maintaining political power based on xenophobia.
One wonders how effectively the Prime Minister is briefed on the happenings in the country.
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
OVERSEAS AND UNHAPPY - India needs to pay attention to the ethnic crisis in Malaysia
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray , The Telegraph ( Culcutta)
Malaysia’s simmering ethnic crisis is something for the ministry of overseas Indian affairs to ponder on. Presumably, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman was bestowed on S. Samy Vellu, president since 1979 of the Malaysian Indian Congress and public works minister in the ruling coalition, because India approves of his work as representative of more than two million ethnic Indians. Since the man and his constituency are inseparable, convulsions in the latter that question his leadership oblige India to reassess its attitude towards the diaspora.
Initially, screaming headlines about Hindus on the march suggested hordes of ash-smeared trident-brandishing sadhus with matted locks rampaging to overwhelm Muslim Malaysia. In reality, thousands of impoverished Tamils carrying crudely drawn pictures of Gandhi sought only to hand over a petition to the British high commission in Kuala Lumpur about their plight since their ancestors were imported as indentured labour 150 years ago. It so happened that the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), a new umbrella group of 30 organizations, mobilized Sunday’s protest when Tamils battled the riot police for six hours.
The confrontation was even farther removed in space than in time from Lee Kuan Yew’s claim in 1959, when Singapore was waiting to join Malaya, that India was to Malayan culture “what Greece and Rome are to Western culture”. Peninsular Malay was part first of the Srivijaya empire and then of Rajendra Chola’s overseas dominions. Even modern Islamic Malaysia borrows heavily from India. Terms like Bangsa Melayu (for the Malay nation) and bumiputera (Malay Muslims), the cherished determinant of political and economic privilege, expose Malaysia’s own unacknowledged linguistic bankruptcy.
Describing the Thirties excavations in Kedah, which confirmed that Bujang was a Srivijaya empire port — dating back to the 4th century — within easy sailing distance of India, Time magazine reported in 2000, “But an Indian Malaysian visiting the Bujang Valley might come away feeling demeaned rather than proud — and that would be no accident.” Anthony Spaeth, the writer, went on to say that “the official literature does its best to downplay, even denigrate, the Indian impact on the region”.
Ironically, the Indian minority’s further marginalization coincided with the long tenure (1981-2003) of the former prime minister, the ethnic Indian medical doctor, Mahathir Mohamad. He also took Malaysia further along the road to Islamization. A kind of competitive Islam was at play under him with the fundamentalist Parti Islam SeMalaysia demanding Sharia law and Mahathir’s subsequently disgraced lieutenant, Anwar Ibrahim, peddling what he called Islamic values without “Arabisation”.
Lee says Chinese Malaysians (25 per cent) who have maintained an uneasy peace since the vicious Malay-Chinese riots of 1969, are being marginalized. But they at least have someone to speak up for them. They are also able to salt away their savings in Singapore where they often send their children for education and employment. Lacking any of these fall-back advantages, the much poorer Indians suffered in silence until Sunday’s upsurge. They did not protest even when six Indians were murdered and 42 others injured in March 2001 without the authorities bothering to investigate the attacks.
Nearly 85 per cent of Indian Malaysians are Tamil, and about 60 per cent of them are descended from plantation workers. Official statistics say Indians own 1.2 per cent of traded equity (40 per cent is held by the Chinese) though they constitute eight per cent of the population. About 5 per cent of civil servants are said to be Indian while 77 per cent are Malay.
An Indian who wants to start a business must not only engage a bumiputera partner but also fork out the latter’s 30 per cent share of equity. The licence-permit raj has run amok with government sanction needed even to collect garbage. Lowest in the education and income rankings, Indians lead the list of suicides, drug offenders and jailed criminals. All the telltale signs of an underclass. While the state gives preferential treatment to bumiputeras, the MIC has done little to help Indians rise above their initially low socio-economic base.
Religious devotion often being the last refuge of those with little else to call their own, Indians set great store by their temples, which are now the targets of government demolition squads. Many are technically illegal structures because the authorities will not clear registration applications. The last straw was the eve-of-Diwali destruction of a 36-year-old temple in Shah Alam town which is projected as an “Islamic City”. Insult was piled on injury when, having announced that he would not keep the customary post-Eid open house as a mute mark of protest, Vellu hastily backtracked as soon as the prime minister frowned at him.
Emotions have been simmering since 2005 when the mullahs seized the body of a 36-year-old Tamil Hindu soldier and mountaineer, M. Moorthy, and buried it over the protests of his Hindu wife, claiming Moorthy had converted to Islam. A Sharia court upheld the mullahs, and when the widow appealed, a civil judge ruled that Article 121(1A) of Malaysia’s constitution made the Sharia court’s verdict final. Civil courts had no jurisdiction. Such restrictions and, even more, the manner in which rules are implemented, make a mockery of the constitution’s Article 3(1) that “other religions may be practised in peace and harmony”.
Last Sunday’s petition was signed by 1,00,000 Indians. The fact that it was provoked by a supposed conversion and a temple destruction and was sponsored by Hindraf prompted P. Ramasamy, a local academic, to say, “The character of struggle has changed. It has taken on a Hindu form — Hinduism versus Islam.” But that is a simplification. The protesters who were beaten up, arrested and charged with sedition were Indians. They were labelled Hindu because Tamil or Malayali Muslims (like Mahathir) go to extraordinary lengths to deny their Indian ancestry and wangle their way into the petted and pampered bumiputera preserve. In Singapore, too, Indian Muslims who speak Tamil at home or sport Gujarati names drape the headscarf called tudung on their wives and insist they are Malay. Malaysia’s Sikhs also distance themselves from the Indian definition which has become a metaphor for backwardness.
Branding Sunday’s demonstration Hindu automatically singles out the minority as the adversary in a country whose leaders stress their Islamic identity. The implication of a religious motivation also distracts attention from the more serious economic discrimination that lies at the heart of minority discontent. Acknowledging that “unhappiness with their status in society was a real issue” for the protesters, even The New Straits Times, voice of the Malay establishment, commented editorially, “The marginalisation of the Indian community, the neglect of their concerns and the alienation of their youth must be urgently addressed.”
Some have suggested that the illusory prospect of fat damages from Hindraf’s $4 trillion lawsuit against the British government may have tempted demonstrators. But the lawyers who lead Hindraf must know that their plaint is only a symbolic gesture like my Australian aboriginal friend Paul Coe landing in England and taking possession of it as terra nullius (nobody’s land) because that is what the British did in Australia. The more serious message is, as The New Straits Times wrote, that secular grievances must be addressed. Though plantation workers have demonstrated earlier against employers, never before have they so powerfully proclaimed their dissatisfaction with the government. In doing so, under Hindraf colours, they have also signified a loss of confidence in Vellu and the MIC. The worm has turned. There is a danger now of the government hitting back hard.
All this concerns India, not because of M. Karunanidhi’s fulminations but because interest in overseas Indians must be even-handed. The diaspora does not begin and end with Silicon Valley millionaires. Nor should Vayalar Ravi’s only concern be V.S. Naipaul and Lakshmi Mittal whose pictures adorn his ministry’s website. Indians of another class are in much greater need of his attention.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Malaysian Indian Minority Is Experiencing Oppression
Why do I think so? Here's why:
Formal political channel is closed -this is evident as experienced by Member of Parliament (MP) Sothinathan who was suspended for speaking up for the Indian community in Malaysian parliament and the pain MP Devamany is undergoing now, having been told off by Minister Nazri for speaking up on behalf of the minority Indian community and the fact that he is awaiting to be called by the Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to explain his "misbehaviour" in parliament. The Malaysian Indian minority is facing a situation of not having a political channel despite having 28 elected representative in the Federal Parliament and State Assemblies and a further 6 Senators in the Senate. I hypothesise that the fear of not being allowed to stand in another election is used effectively against these individuals, transforming them into mere quislings and not bona fide representatives of the Indian minorities.
Economic opportunities are limited - overt racism built deep in the psyche of many non-Indians and institutionalised racism perpetuated by government policies have left the minority Indians in Malaysia with little high quality employment opportunities. While it is often repeated that there are too many Indian lawyers and doctors (as if it is a crime to be an educated and productive member of the citizenry), the fact remains that a vast majority of the minority Indians live in abject poverty. Unnatural hindrances have also been put up to "choke" the upward mobility of aspiring Indians. Without going into details, the fact that numerous local examinations that supersede international professional qualifications have sprung up in the last 20 years as an effective method to limit the number of minority Indians from breaking the glass (or should I say concrete) ceiling. For example, a graduate of University of London law course has an 80%-90% chance of failing in the local Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP), thus preventing him/her from becoming a lawyer. The Malaysian society accepts this without questioning the logic of London-trained lawyers regularly failing to succeed at CLP while fully knowing that Malaysia has no educational institution of international or regional stature.
Legal options are not credible – While there are pockets of independent–minded members of the judiciary, anyone in the know must be able to recognise the issues around the lack of support from the Muslim judiciary on matters related to non-Muslim and minority rights. A spate of recent judgements as reported in local and international press support this view.
Cultural institutions are being destroyed – religious freedom in Malaysia is becoming narrower. New churches and temples are not granted permission to operate. Existing temples are being systematically destroyed on the basis that these are illegal structures. These temples were built prior to the setting up of local councils and as such had no reason to submit building plans. Further, a simplistic argument that “Indians like to set up temples everywhere” is being used to mislead the public sentiment. It is a natural behaviour among Asians across Asia to set up minor “prayer” areas and the prompt removal of these by the local authorities is not the same thing as destroying a temple built 60 years ago.
Racism is rampant – Indians are generally seen as dirty, smelly, and drunk troublemakers. Any small incident is often taken as to represent the entire society. Very few minority Indians are able to climb up the career ladder and with the professional options limited, carry on unfulfilled lives. This happens in a country that needs more professionals. Such racism is apparent from the remarks made by ministers (e.g. Nazri and Johari) who term Indian protesters as “trouble makers”, “crazies”, “crooks” et cetera.
Housing opportunities are limited – as a result of poverty and low economic potential, the minority Indians have limited opportunities for good housing. Despite their poverty, they are always expected to pay the full price of any house they purchase while a Malay billionaire can always look forward to getting a 10% discount for any house that he chooses to buy. Such is the fairness of Malaysian race-based affirmative action.
Higher education is shut out for Indians – Cheap and high quality education at local universities is largely denied to poor Indian children who excel in their studies but Malay children from rich families are given the opportunity to study in overseas Ivy League universities notwithstanding their mediocre exam results. Indians have no choice but to enrol in costly local private colleges which effectively shuts out the poorer minority Indians. The government manipulates statistics and even has a two-stream pre-university examination, one for majority Malays (which is easier to excel) and another for the minorities (which is purposely made more challenging –thus hardly any Malay ever take this exam). Then the students are selected on “merit” – pulling massive wool over the public’s eyes.
Health system availability is not uniform – due to overt racism, illiteracy among the minority Indians and downright poverty, the Indian patients at government and some Malay-owned private medical establishments are regularly mistreated, ignored and seen as a lesser human. The extent of racism spewed out by the Malay doctors and especially Malay nurses at the local hospitals can only be experienced, not described.
It would be hard for any person concerned with human rights not to be concerned. However, race and religion play a major part in forming opinion in Malaysia and as it stands now, it is quite acceptable for the other communities in Malaysia to ignore the cries for salvation that is emerging from the minority Indians.
This is now more apparent from the feedback (or backlash?) the minority Indian society is receiving against their decision to have a public rally on 24 Nov 2007 in Kuala Lumpur.
It is quite clear that the Indians have to implement a “bootstrapping” strategy to lift themselves out of their predicament.