Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hindu Rights And Wrongs In Malaysia

As an ethnic Indian journalist in Malaysia, Michelle Gunaselan, 24, is more than ordinarily aware that the ethnic Indian community occupies the bottom-rung of the socio-economic ladder in the country. “Indians account for the highest rates of suicide, infant mortality, illiteracy, high school dropouts, alcoholism and domestic abuse,” she notes.

Yet, when over 10,000 ethnic Indians marched on Kuala Lumpur’s streets last Sunday in protest against race-based discrimination and a wave of temple demolitions in Malaysia, Gunaselan wasn’t one of them. The reason: as a person of Malayali-Telugu descent and a Catholic, she felt “excluded, even alienated” by the fact that the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which organised the protest, was appealing only to the “Tamil-Hindu” constituency, which makes up over 80% of the ethnic Indian population in Malaysia.

“To me, what Hindraf did that day was not very different from the politics of race and religion that politicians have been playing in Malaysia,” says a disheartened Gunaselan. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Such points of view, which have a critical mass of adherents within the ethnic Indian community, highlight the conflicts generated within the community by the rise of Hindraf on the platform of “Hindu rights”. Such ‘Hindu rights’ sentiment may have been crystallised as a response to the recent wave of temple demolitions in Malaysia, on the grounds that they were “illegal constructions” and the land on which they stood was required for redevelopment.

Some would argue that the Hindraf campaign has been effective — because it mobilised 10,000 people on the streets in a rare show of defiance, and drew international attention to the plight of ethnic Indians in Malaysia. But others believe that such a platform could in the long run prove detrimental to the interests of ethnic Indians.

Says leading Malaysian scholar and secular-democractic thinker Farish Noor: “While I sympathise with and support the Malaysian Indians’ struggle for equal rights… I feel that by turning the rally into a ‘religious’ issue, Hindraf has alienated a lot of people.” This, says Noor, “is a pity, because the issues raised by Hindraf — the economic marginalisation of Malaysian Indians — are very real issues, and need to be addressed.”

In Noor’s estimation, Hindraf’s racial-religious mobilisation could prove “detrimental” in the long run. “For a number of reasons, it alienates Malaysia’s Hindus from other religious communities in the country: it underlines how small they are as a minority and how fragile they are as a constituency because they are also economically at the bottom.”

The core issue, emphasis Noor, is poverty. “If Malaysian Indians were economically empowered, they would have a stronger lobbying voice than they do now.” And as for Hindraf, Noor says, “If I was in their position, I would align myself to a bigger cause — that is, equality for all Malaysians on the basis of Malaysian citizenship rather than on the basis of communal interests.” (By Venkatesan Vembu - DNA World)
Image - Source
Update: Hindraf Wants Meeting With PM.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Reuben said...

Cut the crap. Why can't you take the ownership by yourself as an indian and join the rally. Why are you fighting with words just bcoz the rally is organize by a body which the name start from "Hindhu". Am not a muslim, but i quote u what nabi said, "If something unjustice happening infront of you, go and stop it. if you can't do that, at least tell somebody to go and stop it. even that is difficult, at least in your heart reject that unjustice". Got it. That's your blood, rally that day. right or wrong is secondary, but don't denied them just bcoz they didn't put an official invitation for u. It's a fact that indian have been subject to discrimnation in malaysia. Now, just cool sweetheart, don take it personal.

7:30 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Crankshaft said...

I guess I didn't walk either because I felt marginalised as well.

However, I'm beginning to see a bigger picture. In my opinion, even opposition parties have ignored the Malaysians of South Asian descent because they are not economically powerful.

Hence, they tend to be kicked about and generally ignored. Someone had to stand up and say, "Enough!"

And while the memo does sound controversial, most of the facts presented are correct.

7:38 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

before hindraf came into the picture, where are the rest to stand up for them and give the downtrodden a voice. no, there were none and hindraf filled the vacuum.
sure, i hope that hindraf will open up and be more inclusive to fight for a bangsa malaysia. but, meantime please just dont condemn hindraf for their narrow and exclusivity coz they have done something which a lot of us have not.

10:43 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Cheeweng said...

The Indians have been definitely marginalised since the NEP was first implemented. The Chinese, by and large, did not help because they were concerned with protecting their own rice bowls. Only a few Chinese who have Indian friends sympathised and still did not dare to openly speak up for their downtrodden brothers. But the time to address injustice is upon us and those who are fair-minded and honourable must now discard their ethnocentric bias and stick out their necks for the poor Indians and help them to their rightful places in society. I hope we can all show up on International Human Rights Day to show our support for all those who have been treated like third-class citizens. So to all the Chinese please do not be satisfied with your second-class citizenship, the Tuan-tuan Melayu are increasing vastly in numbers and power and because you turn a blind eye when your help was needed, think who will help you when your hour of need comes?

10:50 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous straighttalk said...

Don't believe we should now be judgemental of Hindraf on petty issues , but authorities and fellow Malaysians should now listen and understand their sufferings ...align their cause to the sufferings of larger Malaysian poor ?, the leadership of the country should do that, which up to now has been a dismal failure.

11:07 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in Malaysia for a year in 2005 and if you live there for a weeks and you can clearly sense that how much hindu's are mistreated in Malaysia, goverment there is absolutely crazy.
But again it all start from home, they are doing it because Indian goverment are letting them do so, imagine if they do with any other national like Chinese for instance and they will be given nicely from there home country, but what Indian goverment did? Just filed small complain ... that's it? It deserved more than it, If I was PM of India I would have deployed navy ship near waters of Malaysia by now and show them power of India in region.

1:10 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous malaysian said...

I'm not being a racial-bias-UMNO skull numbhead or what so ever, but FUCK YOU Anonymous 1:10PM!!

If you really wanted to urged Indian government to deployed navys on out water region, so then be it! I will be the first to fuck up your head with a bat cruelly, you dumbass!

And i'll fought not because i'm a malay man, but as a Malaysian.
Come show me your Indian government force. Ask them to brought whole lotta fucking big cruise they got & come collect all Indian dudes that y'all tryinna defend.

I'm busting my ass at work for my kids & finally Hindraf's are pursuing everybody that Malay people were getting spoilt by policies? Fuck the HINDRAFs. If they wanna target the accusation solely on the government, then why say Islamic Extremist in their MoU?
Why put blame on malays, massively?

A lot of people also misunderstood the legacy of keris & humiliates it just because some knee-jerk of UMNO waves it at their perhimpunan. Talk about all the Indian Hindu issues, what about us? How certain y'all going to make sure that we malays will not be labelled as lazy, been over-protected & over spoilt, racist, extremist & such?

3:08 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous SINGAPOREAN said...

hey people..can we have some peace..its not good to fight with each other..just 1 word to the HINDRAFT they are so full with CRAP.Please get a life & don't make an issue..Settle within your country & please for god's sake don't involve outside country..Shame on HINDRAFT !! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

3:15 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Emperor said...

Well lets face it, there are 3 groups of people in Malaysia who are indians in nature hypocritic enough to deny it.

Class A: Indian Muslims - In India they claim to be indian, in Malaysia they claim to be Malay

Class B: Indian Christian - Just like Michelle, they think they are Whites. They try to reach out their 1% white blood which is a diluted as water. Face the fact you are still 99% Indian. So act as if u are some alient from outer space.

Class C: Punjabi - Another bunch of jokers who think they are different. Excuse me, not all Punjabis are Sikhs. There are substantial of them who are hindu and substantial of them who are Hindu. Where are they from ? India. In Malaysia, they are Lain Lain.

The problem of unity among Indians doesn't exist because of the hypocritical attitude of Class A, Class B and Class C people.

Fools, the underlying message of Hindraf, is the socio-economic status of the Indians at large. Face the fact, that we are discriminated in political, economic and social aspects of life.

Political - It is impossible for us to win sits on our own. There is no proper representation in parliament. The current representation is 3.2% as compared to 8% of the population.

Social - We always branded drunkards, thieves, labourers or course professionals like doctors, lawyers, and engineers. We are not associated with entrepreneurship and business acumen. Stop the fetish interst in becoming to become a doctor and aim for things like investment banking, financial analyst and entrepeneurship.

Economics- Indians dont want to heavily invest stock markets, equity, derivatives, forward contracts, bonds. They only like to invest in properties and keep the money under the bed. Remember, we got to invest in equity to raise our equity representation above 1.2 % at present.

I hope Indians change and remind themselves to help themselves or face the fact that they will continue to be left behind.

12:04 AM GMT+8  

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