Malaysia’s Indians gather courage to protest

 The problems of our Indian brothers have reached as far as Baltimore USA, which is just an hour drive from washington DC and is about 13 hours in time difference from Malaysia.

The Baltimore Sun today published an article from Associated Press which is 2 pages long and which has quite an insight into the problems of our Indian brothers.

In Malaysiakini today, even the Prime MInister is quoted to say  the number of votes from Indians for the ruling party will likely drop in the coming polls amid increasing ethnic strife in Malaysia.

This is in sharp contrast to the so-called ‘supreme leader’ of Indian race who is still in a self denial mode, or rather, who has still not read the signs that his presence in the next election will be a liability to BN.

What this ‘supreme Indian leader’ should do, as his final acts to his long career, is to persuade the government to release unconditionally the Hinfraff leaders and then tender his resignation over the failure to address the problems facing his community, despite the continual support given him by the community.

For those who wish to read about what Baltimore Sun has published , pls read here:

Malaysia’s Indians gather courage to protest
Associated Press
February 3, 2008
1 2 next Article tools

 Malaysians typically sit and gripe about the government while sipping tea in safe sidewalk cafes. Few want to protest in public and face possible arrest.

That could be changing.

About 20,000 minority ethnic Indians clashed on the streets with the Kuala Lumpur police for seven hours in November to demand equal rights and a fairer share of national resources. They dispersed amid clouds of tear gas and water cannons.

About 250 people were briefly detained, and five protest organizers are in jail under a law that allows indefinite detention without charges or trial.

“It was a watershed event,” said S. Nagarajan of the Education, Welfare and Research Foundation, a nonprofit group that represents impoverished ethnic Indians. “It showed that Malaysians have overcome the fear of authorities. Even we were surprised by the scale and the spirit of the people.”

Emboldened by the impact of the Nov. 25 demonstration, ethnic Indians have become increasingly vocal with claims that they are marginalized in this multiracial country. They say the Malaysian Indian Congress, the third-largest party in the ruling National Front coalition, has become corrupt and has not done enough to improve the situation for Indians.

Ethnic Malays, who make up 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people, control the government and all state-owned enterprises. Ethnic Chinese, at 25 percent of the population, dominate private business. Ethnic Indians, who make up 8 percent, remain at the bottom of Malaysia’s economic and political hierarchy.

In response to the unrest, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said he would form a panel to draw up anti-poverty measures for all races. He did not elaborate.

Abdullah is widely expected to hold general elections in March, a year before they are required. The National Front – which has been in power since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957 – is expected to easily return to power, even with the MIC facing widespread anger from its constituents.

A five-day hunger strike in January by a group of ethnic Indians demanded the release of the five activists in jail. The five men also fasted until one of them was hospitalized with dehydration.

But the Indian anger was conveyed most emphatically Jan. 23 during the religious festival of Thaipusam. Every year, more than a million Indians gather at the Batu Caves temple, which is managed by the MIC, for daylong rituals. This year, most people stayed away in protest and instead gathered at another temple in neighboring Klang town.

This newfound boldness and the unusual outpouring of anti-government dissent has shaken the foundations of Malaysia’s reputation as a stable nation where Malays, Chinese and Indians live in peace.

“It is easy for such a rally to become a racial issue or elicit responses from other races and evolve into a major conflict,” said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Behind this concern is fear that overt ethnic tensions could scare away investors who form the bedrock of Malaysia’s booming economy.

The extraordinary street violence in late November followed a demonstration Nov. 10 by about 30,000 opposition activists to demand electoral reform. In September, 1,000 lawyers marched to the prime minister’s office to demand judicial progress.

Analysts warn that anger among disgruntled Malaysians is reaching a boiling point over discrimination against minorities, lack of religious freedom, political interference in the judiciary, unfair elections and corruption.

“It is a cry for attention,” said Abdul Rahman Embong, a prominent sociologist who teaches at the National University of Malaysia. “We cannot take the issue of disaffection … for granted.”

Besides complaining in coffee shops and grumbling on blogs, Malaysians have few avenues for venting, as the state controls the news media and does not allow open discussion on racial issues.

Public gatherings of more than four people require permits; anyone deemed a threat to public order faces arrest.

The most worrisome problem for the government is the sense of disenfranchisement among ethnic Indians.

Most Indians are descendants of indentured ethnic Tamil laborers brought by British colonials in the 19th century to work on rubber plantations. They were poor then, living in shacks and earning daily wages. Not much has changed.

In fact, the Indians say they are worse off now, because of a 1971 affirmative action policy favoring Malays in jobs, education, government contracts and businesses. The ethnic Chinese grumble, too, but they are less affected and most have flourished in private enterprise, controlling a large part of the national economy.

“We want the minority Indians to be given their basic rights. If they can give us two or three [real concessions], we are willing to keep our mouth shut,” said P. Waytha Moorthy, who organized the Nov. 25 demonstration.

“That’s what I don’t understand: Why isn’t the government conceding? We are not asking for super rights. We are asking for basic rights,” he said in an interview in London, where he lives in self-imposed exile, fearing arrest like his five colleagues.

The government denies Indians are discriminated against, and it says their living standards have vastly improved.

Government officials cite statistics to support their case: The average monthly household income of Indians in 2004 was $1,000, compared with the $775 earned by Malays; about 2.9 percent of Indians lived below poverty line in 2004 compared with 39.2 percent in 1970.

But community leaders and activists dispute the official figures, saying they understate the poverty level among ethnic Indians and do not reflect reality: 90 percent of Indian workers are low-skilled laborers with little education who are treated with contempt by those in authority.

Indians are also stereotyped as alcoholics and gangsters.

According to Nagarajan, Indians make up 5 percent of the civil service now, compared with 21.5 percent in 1969. Only about 1.2 percent of corporate equity has been in the hands of Indians for the past three decades.

“The anger has been building up,” said Nagarajan. “The state has been arrogant and a bully, not realizing that even the marginalized can react.”


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ktemoc
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 15:20:21

    The ‘supreme leader’ has aped his master’s habit of ‘elegant silence’. In that, at least we should be thankful for small mercies 😉


  2. monsterball
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 16:25:58

    Samy put out 7 points for UMNO to help Indians.
    Najib apologizing to the Indians….now admitting they were neglected.
    Hindraf walk have proven to be worth our efforts!!
    Pak Lah said….all races to be treated as equals.
    Samy is a gone case. By putting out those 7 points…is showing clearly he does not care for the Indians…during his 28 years…and is desperate to prove otherwise….with his usual idiotic self….28 years too late proposals to UMNO.
    Najib’s apology is indirectly proving Samy is lousy..and Najib cannot be trusted. He played out Tungku Razaleigh at the last moment….throwing his votes to Mahathir for UMNO Presidency election….promised to Razaliegh. Everyone knows this man.
    Noticed Razaleigh patched up with Mahathir…..have also been seen with Pak Lah …but never been seen with Najib at all?
    Now Najib abandoned Mahathir for Pak Lah….something that caught Mahathir by surprise…….and Pak Lah does not trust him at all.
    It’s their cunning and political selfishness that you see both of them smile at each other.
    And what Pak Lah says or are doing now….cannot be taken seriously….for he is proven beyond any doubt…talk alot ….when peaceful……but when there are troubles ….he is always overseas…..showing he has not leadership quality and a coward.
    After few years..and now near the end of his term….he is saying all the nice things for voters to hear…like fool us again t vote for him and UMNO.
    And again….the bottom line is …our daily lives…better or worst?
    Better..go vote for UMNO and BN.
    Worst…which is actually true….then change the government.
    Why feel so happy with all those good news and goodies that do not really help us at all?….for a better peaceful life….living in this blessed rich country?


  3. monsterball
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 16:55:33

    The coming election for voters is not about all those great news we are reading daily from UMNO.
    It is about our daily lives…are we having a better life….or worst?
    It is about true unity without race and religion sickening politics…over and over again.
    It is about massive corruptions…mismangements
    allowing race and religion into every company managed by the government ….loosing millions daily….and employing unproductive people….just because they are UMNO’s supporters.
    It is about corruptions. Are any minister in jail?
    So they say…very difficult to prove them taking bribes…okay….are they out from the cabinet?……NO!!
    Worst still….one hated by all is now a Senator.
    So what is UMNO???
    It is about…our self respect and intelligence…daily being taken for granted….because UMNO is an expert to apply divide and rule.
    It is about freedom of rights and religions to choose freely.
    It is about ..our true everyine yearns to be Malaysians…but UMNO keep separating the races….never seriously unite us at all…thus thier most evil and selfish..race and religion dirty politics..on and on and on….
    It is about….telling those elected people….they are the servants of the country voted in by us…and we must be treated with respect at all times…not thrown with tear gas and water cannons … animals.
    It is about all the above… and many more…that the coming election..voters are voting for.
    Historic walks by the thousands…..from lawyers….NGOs and Indians….never seen before for past 50 years…are the signs..voters are DEMANDING…not HOPING for actions…never is wrong at all.
    Najib’s apology just yesterday to Indians… is years too late….but at least he did admit UMNO is wrong. What a cunning politicians he is.
    So easy to vote this time….is it not?


  4. monsterball
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 08:15:02

    Dear Dr. Hsu…I will be very busy for next 10 days or so….and like to put my last wish you and your family again…A Happy & Prosperous 2008!!!
    May you enjoy good health..peace in mind..and happiness…and may your family be healthy and well too.
    May I be permitted to wish all Chinese visitors to your blog…..a Happy Chinese New Year.
    Good Bye!!


  5. hsudarren
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 10:55:06

    monsterball, thanks. I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year, and a safe and happy journey whereever you go! Enjoy yourself.


  6. jeff
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 02:22:35

    Pak lah is better than many of the racist Umno-putra.
    He is not an extremist like other muslims. Unfortunately he inherited such a broken system from TDM, every body expect him to fix it with in 4 years, which is very unrealistic when looking at the humongous fraud coming from TDM era, every Malaysian must really believe he is God that he can fix up everything vice and folly in the country.


  7. Kamban
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:48:16

    Character wise Pak Lah is good , but his problem is that he listens too much to those corrupts downstream. Like the case of istana zakaria and so far on corruption fighting only small fishes got caught . Many of his downline leaders made sexist/racial remarks freely w/o control . In other words the captain(PM) seems has no control over them . Besides, he should have called the Hindraf leaders for a talk but it did not happen as his downline leaders asked him not to meet them .
    Now, he is paying the price , that is being hated by many forward thinking Malaysians.


  8. jeff
    Feb 09, 2008 @ 23:47:05

    kamban, agree with you. He does have a fire wall set up around him by some crooked UNMO-putra, MCA n MIC ministers, to prevent him from knowing the woes of the “rakyat”, so those corrupter s can continue their “business” of scamming the “rakyat”at the expense of the federal government.That is why he is so “clueless” about what is HINDRAF protest about?


  9. humbleforest
    Feb 10, 2008 @ 19:29:16

    If one is right it does not mean the other is wrong.
    If one is wrong it does not mean the other is right.
    If one keeps on criticising and insulting others, one may overlook one’s wrongdoings and mistakes. This may lead to one’s growth of arrogance and downfall without one’s knowledge.
    Always be calm and aware of what one wants to speak, think and act.
    Do not hurt other’s feelings as one does not like others to hurt oneself.

    A tooth for a tooth harbours grudges and hatred
    without end.
    A gentleman does not keep this to his mind and heart.
    Only indiscriminate love radiates far and wide
    from his heart.


  10. humbleforest
    Feb 10, 2008 @ 19:43:47

    It is easy to change rivers and mountains but hard to change a person’s nature or attitude.
    Don’t always deceive oneself as well as others.
    One can make self-improvement if one truly repents from beginning to end.

    One can change one’s attitude only when one
    realises one’ mistakes and wrongdoings, and willing to correct them without repetition.

    Everyone are living with conflict
    But never must one inflict
    Verbally one may commit
    With words of deceit.


  11. karpa
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 10:36:14

    If Malaysian Indians want to protest again next time, they need to have some Malays with them so that those” rasuah polis” will think twice before using chemical -lace water canon and teargas, racist cops do not dare to do that to Bersih protesters.


  12. Killi Valavan
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 22:55:18

    from a blogger’s input , it’s said that many chinese and malays will favour BN due to the Indian upsurge . It will be interesting to see how’s the votes’ skew gonna look like this election .


  13. muttu
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 08:32:06

    HINDRAF promise every hindu a million for participating in the illegal protest, where is the money now? why these lawyer leaders are so shameless in cheating us Hindu.


  14. Kamban
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 20:53:41

    Hindraf never promised $$ . Get your facts correct.


  15. VJ
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 22:07:44

    dun tell me 30k ppl gathered on Nov25 just for money. Probably a handful like you .
    Dun tarnish a noble ‘long term’ struggle for a cheap money making scam !
    If ppl want easy money , the country will be filled with robbers and thieves .

    You wanna know the value of money ? Ask Kubang Pasu umno . They just need RM200 to back stab their former captain !


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