Cover-up story by Bernama… As far as i concern, Malaysia’s image had damaged long time ago by our beloved leaders… Corruption, discrimination, cronyism, etc…
Lobbying for international support for the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) by its chairman P. Waythamoorthy in the United Nations, India and Britain seems to have tarnished Malaysia’s image abroad more than it has done any good.
This development has raised a question.
Where is the pressure group headed?
Is it genuinely championing the interests of the country’s Indians, which it claims the government has marginalised, or taking up any other specific cause?
Undeniably, championing the rights and interests of any religion or community is a noble cause.
In fact, such a struggle has never been prohibited in the country.
However, in multiracial Malaysia, such efforts should be undertaken within certain boundaries.
Several quarters interviewed by Bernama have expressed their views on the matter.
“He (Waythamoorthy) has to return from abroad to clarify matters. The best way is through negotiation and not confrontation,” Malaysian Indian Youth Council president A. Rajaratnam said.
He suggested that the government give the undertaking not to detain Waythamoorthy under the Internal Security Act (ISA) if the Hindraf leader agreed to return to Malaysia.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Ethnic Studies Institute director Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said Hindraf’s demands began with its intra-ethnic problems which emanated from the heterogeneous nature (differences in religions, languages, classes and castes) of the community but was later manipulated to become inter-ethnic problems to serve the interests of certain quarters.
In this context, he said people from the lower-income group like plantation workers, were used by a small group of middle-class Indians to arouse hatred against the Barisan Nasional (BN) government by holding a demonstration in the capital on Nov 25, last year.
“The elite used the lower-income group to show as if the issues championed by Hindraf were Indian problems,” he told Bernama.
In a statement on Dec 6, last year, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said Hindraf was an unregistered body helmed by five lawyers and a senior executive of a private company.
Five of them, lawyers M. Manoharan who is now Kota Alam Shah assemblyman, P. Uthayakumar, R. Kenghadharan, V. Ganabathirau, and former bank executive K. Vasantha Kumar, were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on Dec 13, last year for their involvement in organising the Nov 25 street protests and hurling slanderous accusations against the government.
In a memorandum to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Hindraf claimed that the Malaysian Government had engaged an armed Islamic militant group to attack and destroy the Mariaman temple in Kampung Jawa, Shah Alam about 4am on Nov 15, last year.
Hindraf also appealed to the British Government to initiate an emergency resolution in the United Nations to condemn the “ethnic cleansing” of the Indians in the country and to refer Malaysia to the World Court and the International Criminal Court for the crime against its own ethnic minority Indians.
On Aug 30, last year, Hindraf sued the British Government in London’s Royal Courts of Justice for bringing Indians to Malaysia as rubber estate labourers and exploiting them for 150 years.
The quantum being sought is 4 trillion British pound (RM27.7 trillion) or RM1 million for every Indian currently residing in Malaysia.
Dr Shamsul Amri said Hindraf grew out of the Indian problems like claiming the body of an (Mount) Everest climber Sarjan M. Moorthy or his Islamic name, Mohamad Abdullah in 2006, temple demolition to make way for development and championing the plight of Indians in the plantations who were still living in poverty.
He said the complex issues were coalesced by Hindraf leaders to form a social collective movement to rally the support of the majority of the Indians to go against the Umno-led government.
“There is an unwritten agreement in BN that component parties look after their own party’s interests where Umno looks after the Malays, MCA looks after the Chinese, and MIC looks after the Indians. It is obvious that MIC has failed.
“The question now is why did it turn into a Malay-Indian problem when it was an Indian problem internally,” he said, adding that Hindraf’s action could cause racial tension.
“Whatever it is, they found the real enemy … It is much easier to fight against another ethnic group, rather than the MIC,” he said.
Dr Shamsul Amri said the opposition parties capitalised on the situation which eventually caused BN to lose two-thirds majority in the March 8 general election.
On Aug 17, 2007, Hindraf gave an 18-point memorandum to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the marginalisation and the needs of the Indian community and the unhappiness of the Hindu devotees.
Hindu Sangam Malaysia president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said the demolition of the Mariamman temple by the Selangor Government one day before Deepavali last year, had increased the Indians support for Hindraf.
“That was the breaking point. If former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had not destroyed the temple, Hindraf would not have become famous,” he said, while proposing that the government channel funds directly to Indian non-governmental organisations, and not through political parties.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Dr Mohamad Khir had said that MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had called him on the night of Nov 15 and told him that Hindraf supporters had entered the temple and it had to be demolished that very night.
Samy Vellu retorted, saying that the claim was baseless.
Social activist Dr Chandra Muzaffar said Hindraf leaders and supporters did not speak the truth about the Shah Alam temple demolition which had vented the people’s anger against the government.
In his article, ‘Hindraf: Bane Upon the Nation’ in Tehran Times, he wrote: “It was not widely made known within the community that the temple was on private land and the developer had offered cash assistance to the temple committee to build a new temple on an alternative site.
“The temple was not the only place of worship that was brought down; a surau was also demolished. In most instances, when temples or other places of worship are forced to yield to development projects, alternative sites are made available.
“As structures, temples in particular, are somewhat problematic since a number of them were constructed without obtaining prior approval from the relevant authorities. Because they are illegal structures, the authorities have been forced to act.”
Describing the claim of ‘ethnic cleansing’ as utterly ludicrous, Dr Chandra said if it were true, the government would not have allowed Tamil language to be used in Tamil schools, in broadcasting and the freedom for Hindus to practise their religion.
“If Hindus are facing annihilation, how does one explain the glaring fact that in the state of Selangor, on a per capita basis, there are more Hindu temples than mosques and suraus put together? The total Hindu-Indian population in the state is about one quarter of the total Malay-Muslim population,” he wrote.
He said the Indian community represented 11.5 per cent of the professional and management group in the country, higher than eight per cent of its population.
Statistics from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) show that the population of the country is made up of 16.41 million Bumiputeras (Malays and Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputeras), 6.22 million (Chinese), 1.86 million (Indians) and 320,000 (others).
In 2007, the poverty rate (household income below RM750 per month) of the Indian community was 2.5 per cent, the second highest after Bumiputeras at 5.1 per cent.
The Chinese accounted for 0.6 per cent.
For hardcore poor (household income below RM440 per month), Bumiputeras accounted for one per cent, Indians 0.3 per cent and Chinese 0.1 per cent.
Based on the statistics, the average monthly income of Bumiputeras at RM3,156 last year was below the Indians (RM3,799), others (RM3,651) and Chinese (RM4,853).
Dr Shamsul Amri said the EPU statistics side-stepped Hindraf’s allegations that the government had marginalised the Indians, what more, carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the community.
“They want to have instant international support and recognition. That’s why they use the term “ethnic cleansing” which means genocide … So, what are they saying? You tell me,” he said, questioning the basis of Waythamoorty’s waging an international smear campaign against the government.
Suhakam commissioner and Social Strategic Foundation executive director Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria was quoted as saying that Hindraf leaders would continue with their mission if their demand for the release of five of their leaders detained under ISA was ignored.
Samy Vellu had also called for their release but Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar had replied that the government would not release them.
The question whether Waythamoorthy will be detained, rests with the prime minister who would definitely consider the damage done by him to the country’s image.
Vaithilingam, who believes that the negotiation table is the best way to settle the quagmire, concedes that nobody can achieve 100 per cent of what they want.