HINDRAF and the Indian Question
The rally over the weekend by the HINDRAF et al caused major traffic jam into downtown KL. It was a mess coz I had to pick up Laura from downtown Chinatown which is just behind Dataran Merdeka. There were 3 roadblocks, the first one at MRR2 going to Ampang Point where there were 6 or 7 buses of Indians stopping on the sidewalk, the Jln Ampang Road Block and another one on the way to Chinatown.
Here's an interesting article on this.
Thursday, November 29, 2007The Indian Question
By Mohandass Karamchand
The Indian protest in Kuala Lumpur has been a great success because it made a very loud noise. But the Indian protesters forgot to shout Daulat Tuanku. Instead they showed allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II by carrying placards that had Queen Elizabeth’s picture. Others also carried pictures of Mahatma Ghandi.
According to the NST, Hindraf legal adviser P. Uthayakumar said that they would 'get a second bite at the cherry' when they go to London in mid-January to present a memorandum to the Queen of England. But the Queen is reported to suffer constipation and some flatulence during cold winter months like January – a predicament inherited from her ancestors who avoided the privy in winter because they had no internal plumbing. She may not be disposed to receive Uthayakumar. But there is some confusion. The NST reports: "We don't want to rely on Indian-based parties anymore. We want to go directly to UMNO because it is they who hold power," said the lawyer who was in the midst of the illegal gathering yesterday. So is it Queen Elizabeth or UMNO? Unfortunately for the Indian community, all roads to UMNO go through Samy Vellu’s office.
This appeal to Queen Elizabeth and Mahatma Ghandi is a mistake. The banners scream 'We are Malaysians'. To the other Malaysians, it seems to be that the protesters are Indian Hindus first and Malaysians second. The ethnic, religious identity is pushed forward. The name ‘Hindraf’ is also exclusive. It excludes Indians who are Christians, Sikhs and Muslims.
Why call it Hindu Rights Action Front? Why not just Indian Rights Action Front (INDRAF)? Why associate with religion? This is what some NGOs said - the Hindu Indians are making a mistake of projecting a narrow Hindu image.
However, the grievances and the protest by the Indian Hindus is real and justified.The BN Gomen's failure to uplift the Indians is real. It is a big failure. The BN Gomen does not really care for them. UMNO says they want to be the payung for all Malaysians. This is a lie. They are the least bothered about the fate of the Indians. Uthayakumar’s idea that he wants to go directly to UMNO may earn him a Datukship, but the Indians will not get anything else.
Hindu Tamils are now treated like fourth class citizens by the BN Gomen. Parties like MIC and PPP just get by on handouts for their community. The Tamils can be ignored by the UMNO boys. Why should the UMNO boys respect the Indians? While the Hindraf was protesting on Jalan Ampang, Nallakaruppan was hosting the founding of his new Indian political party called Malaysian Indian United Party (or Muniandy) at the Istana Hotel. In his speech, Nallakaruppan pledged allegiance to the BN. He said that the Muniandy party would support all the BN’s policies. Just a few months ago he was dancing on stage with Anwar Ibrahim in Ijok, hoping to be Keadilan’s candidate against the BN at the by-election. But since Anwar dropped him in favour of a Malay, Nallakaruppan is now dancing to the UMNO-BN tune.
The Indians cannot depend on the BN Gomen or anyone else to uplift them. They have no choice but to uplift themselves. Like the Chinese, any community (including the Malays) that does not depend on the BN Gomen will become richer and more successful. This is because the BN Gomen itself does not have any idea how to uplift the people. This is a Gomen that is groping in the dark. The blind cannot lead anyone to light. They cannot see.
Historically, the majority of Indians came here as very poor people. But the Indians in India and Malaysia are not one uniform body. Indians are a small minority in Malaysia – making up less than 10% of the population. Numerically they are becoming even more irrelevant.
But this small minority is divided into so many sub-minorities almost all of whom are far richer and better off than the Tamil Hindus – the largest Indian group who were also the people protesting on Sunday. The Sindhi and Gujerati Hindus are business oriented. They may not even acknowledge that Tamil Hindus are human. In their belief the Tamils are children of Hanuman, the dark-skinned monkey god who helped their white-skinned god Ram rescue their white-skinned princess Sita Devi from the clutches of the dark-skinned Ravan.
Then we have the Ceylon Tamils. An irate Indian Tamil woman once said that the Ceylon Tamils in Malaysia are ashamed to say that they are also Indians or Tamils. So in official application forms where they must state their race, they put themselves under ‘Lain-Lain’ or Others, not as Indians. Few people may be aware of this but the Ceylon Tamils are by far the most successful racial group in Malaysia, whose per capita incomes may be higher than the Chinese, Gujeratis, Mamaks, etc. There are more millionaires per thousand people among Ceylon Tamils than any other race in Malaysia. The richest man in Malaysia is a Ceylon Tamil billionaire known as Ananda Krishnan.
There are the Sikhs who have their own axes to grind against the Hindus. The Sikhs have also done very well in Malaysia. They may have started as jagas and susu lembu sellers but now they are among the best doctors and lawyers in the country. Money lending is still their forte. In a nutshell, they are doing much better than the Tamil Hindus.
Then there are the RSS sympathizers in Malaysia. RSS stands for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the Hindu extremist who murdered Mahatma Ghandi in 1948, was a member of the RSS. The RSS in India is led by Brahmins whose main purpose is to preserve the Hindu caste system and thereby preserve their positions. They do not look kindly at Mahatma Ghandi and none of them will have a picture of Ghandi in their homes, let alone hoist Ghandi’s picture at a public rally.
There is very little love lost between all these Indians. There are extremely very few intra-Hindu Indian marriages. It is almost impossible to see a Ceylon Hindu marry an Indian Hindu or a Gujerati marry a Telugu. You will not find any of the RSS Brahmins marrying any of the Hindraf people. It just does not happen. On the other hand, in Malaysia, there are thousands of marriages between Malays and Indians of all types and castes. This Sunday, 9th December, a extraordinarily beautiful and quite rich Malay woman is marrying a Hindu Tamil (who of course had to convert). The wedding will be held at a major hotel and will be reported in the Malay media. The Indian media will never cover such an event.
The RSS sympathizers did not support the Hindraf protest. Instead, they released a statement to the media that said: “the MIC and the Government had helped to fund, build, repair as well as settle relocation and land issues for temples nationwide.” In other words: what is there to complain about? There are enough temples. Caste and inter-Indian race differences are great. The discrimination and prejudices within the Indians is greater than from without. But that does not really affect the bread and butter issues that were the main reason for the protest on Sunday.
It is also mind-boggling that many Hindu success stories have come to a tragic end through outright murder. All too often Indians suffer violence at the hands of fellow Indians. This is not unlike the case with the African Americans and Mexican Americans who suffer tragic violence at the hands of their own people.
In Penang recently, a well known and very senior Tamil Hindu lawyer by the name of Annamalai was brutally stabbed to death by two Indians, most likely hired killers, in broad daylight. I knew Mr Annamalai who was over 60 years old and was a polite and gentle man. The killers have not been caught and neither is the motive known. A few years ago, a young Hindu woman who owned three beauty salons in Klang was also brutally murdered by Indians. After being beaten and stabbed, her body was repeatedly run over by her own Pajero. The crazed intensity of the violence against her was unimaginable. Again, her killers were not found and neither was the reason for her murder known. Earlier to that, a young Tamil Hindu geologist who ran a very succesful geological services company in Bukit Mertajam was killed by Indians. His head was cracked open by an axe. His killers were never caught and neither was the reason for his murder known.
These were among the cream of their society in their own neighbourhoods - Indians who had come up in life through hard work and against much odds. They all suffered violent death at the hands of Indians. It could be any number of reasons why they were killed but often it is pure jealousy by Indians against fellow Indians. It is okay if a Chinese or Malay is succesful, but when an Indian makes good, any number of other Indians may become extremely jealous. And if there is even a hint of an insult or injury, real or imagined, it may be enough to trigger murderous action. So the Indians do not need extra enemies from outside to keep them down. They can be their own worst enemies.
First of all, the Indians must realise that holding up posters of Ghandi or Queen Elizabeth is brain dead. It would have been better if they held up posters of the great Tamil hero Veerapandian Kattaboman. But since no one knows what Veerapandian Kattaboman looked like, they could have even held up posters of the great Tamil movie hero MG Ramachandran or MGR who once portrayed Veerapandian Kattaboman in a Tamil movie. But why Ghandi and why on earth Queen Elizabeth II? This only proves that the Indian Tamils may have their feet planted here, but not all their thoughts are fully settled here.
The time for pussyfooting and endless talk is over. Indians must 'bite the bullet' and take decisive and practical action to help themselves. Since all the protests have been made, it is now up to the Indians to put forward what they really want to do.
Do not expect the Barisan Nasional or the UMNO boys to help you. They do not even know how to help themselves. After 50 years they do not even realize the main problem that is holding the Malays down – their religion and their total disregard of the English language. So how are they going to figure out what are the real issues facing the Indians? Even if they want to help the Indians they will not know what to do.
Some simple-minded Indians have suggested that the Indians be exempted from all university racial quotas. This is a beginning but it does not solve the problem of the poor Tamils in the estates and the rural areas. The MIC has set up the Tafe College, taken over private law and accounting colleges (Vanto Academy) and set up medical schools yet the plight of the Tamil Hindus in the estates and rural areas has not changed much.
In Semeling in Kedah (in the Merbok constituency), the MIC has built the most modern medical campus not only in Malaysia but maybe in the whole of Asia, Europe and the US. Please Google 'AIMST'. One minute you are driving through oil palm plantations then suddenly you turn a corner and almost run into a group of huge UFO spaceship type buildings rising out of the oil palms - this is the Asian Institute of Medical Science and Technology. Yet only the guards and gardeners at the AIMST are Indians from the surrounding rubber and oil palm estates in Semeling. Most of the Indian students at AIMST are from well to do Indian families from outside Kedah who can afford the almost RM300,000 fees at this private medical school. Increasingly now, more Chinese students are also enrolling at AIMST.
So even if all the protests work and the Barisan Nasional Gomen offers Indians unlimited entry into universities, it is the children of educated, urban, west coast Indians who are going to gain admission. The Ceylon Tamils, the urban Tamils, Punjabis, Gujeratis, Tamil Muslims, etc., will take advantage of the opportunities. The Indians from the rural areas and the estates are never going to make it, or at least not any time soon.
Dont believe me? Here is my proof. Before the NEP, before 1970, it was status quo. The playing field was 'more' level then. Or was it ? The Ceylon Tamils monopolised senior Gomen jobs, teaching jobs, doctors, lawyers, etc. The Telugus were mandors at the estates while the Tamils were the labourers. The Sindhis and Gujeratis monopolised the textiles business. The Mamaks ran the sundry shops. The Tamil Hindus were at the lowest rung of the ladder. Who really cared for them? But that was the 'level' playing field available at that time. It is by sheer effort and perseverance that many of the Tamil Hindus have come up in life to become the Uthayakumars and the Selvams of today. But these are so few, the exceptions.
So even if the BN Gomen completely opened up all the university opportunities to Indians it is the minority within the minority ie the Ceylon Tamils, the Gujeratis, the Punjabis, the Tamil Muslims, etc., who are going to take full advantage of these opportunities. The majority Indian Hindus in the estates are going to end up no better than before.
The solution seems obvious enough. The Indians must demand that Indian Hindus from the estates and the rural areas must be given super priorities at university entrance. This has been done for the past 37 years in Malaysia where poor Malay children from the rural schools and rural areas are given preferences over urban kids. So, if an Indian Hindu child from the estates has lesser grades than a child from the urban centres, the rural Indian child must be treated differently. But will the Indian community agree to this? How many of the urban-living Hindraf protesters from Sunday will agree to this idea?
The Indians must also demand for a 100% Government-funded special boarding school system where poor Indian Hindu children from the estates and rural areas are provided free schooling and board from Forms 1 till 5 and beyond. If the Malay kampongs were not conducive for Malay children to become the sons and daughters of the NEP, neither are the estates conducive to make successes out of Indian children. It is just not going to happen. There are exceptions where estate children have gone to earn PhDs but lets cut the crap, okay? We are not concerned with exceptional cases. We want to democratize opportunities for the Indian poor in the estates, the vast majority who are not exceptional but just ordinary poor people. There is a catch though. These Indian boarding schools must be taught by Malay and Chinese teachers only. The students must be weaned away from the negative, crude and pessimistic attitudes and language of the estates. Indian teachers may unwittingly delay this process. Lastly, these boarding schools for Indians must be located in largely Malay localities like in the East Coast states. They must be totally isolated from their estate environments and learn to fit into a more Malay and Malaysian environment. This way, if they have to protest again, they will not hold up pictures of Ghandi or Queen Elizabeth. They may learn to hold up posters of Sultan Muzaffar Shah, Hang Kasthuri, Hang Lekir, Tun Ali, Abdullah Munshi, and so on who were all Tamils.
As for the other poor Indian Hindus, the Indian community must demand that the Gomen provide them unlimited entry into all the vocational training institutes, especially the Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara or IKBN, plus the MARA Skills Institutes. Surprisingly, it is Nazri Aziz as Minister in charge of MARA who has opened some MARA Skills Institutes to Indians.
The Indian community must also demand Gomen-funded housing for all poor Indians, those in the estates and rural areas as well as in the urban areas. They can either rent or buy these houses from the Gomen through any number of rent-own schemes, etc. The housing must not be the cheapo, two-room, one-bathroom type pigeon holes. They must be decent-sized houses with at least three sleeping rooms and two bathrooms. Even if they cost a bit more, the housing must be comfortable. Safe and comfortable housing is important to break the poverty cycle and bring Indian Hindus into the mainstream of our society.
Indians must also demand access to the Amanah Saham investment fund. Not the Amanah Saham Nasional that is open to all races and is priced at market prices but the RM1.00 per share Amanah Saham Bumiputra where your RM1.00 per share is guaranteed by the Gomen. Then, all the Banks’ special Amanah Saham financing packages (since the RM1.00 per share is guaranteed by the Gomen) that are available to bumiputras will also be made available to Indians. This will be a major help to the Indian community.
Then here are more important but even more difficult things that the Indian community must do. They must listen to Mr SM Idris of the Consumers Association of Penang who has been campaigning all his life to abolish toddy shops on the estates. Indians and drinking must part company because it has been proven time and time again that Indians and alchohol do not mix well. Ban alchohol on the estates and the Indian community will save a lot of heartache.
There must be an end to Tamil schools in the country. Tamil is a great language. It has a long history and is a beautiful poetic language. But Tamil will keep the Hindus in the poverty cycle in Malaysia. In Malaysia, Tamil will make you poor. Believe me on this one. Ban Tamil schools and send all the Tamil kids to Gomen schools or Chinese schools.
Then, more importantly, to curb gangsterism, completely ban all Tamil movies, especially through Vanavil and other TV stations. They are absolutely brain-dead and a bad influence on already brain-dead Indian youngsters. Tamil movies are of zero cultural and moral value. Unfortunately Indian Hindus can riot (they did) to buy tickets for Rajni’s latest movie ‘Boss’. It was another useless Tamil movie that cannot win an award even at the Blind Movie Producers Awards. Endless fighting, beating, crying, killing, dancing, singing, marrying, seducing are the staple of brain-dead Tamil movies which have a strong and significant impact on the Indian population. Two Tamil movie actors, MG Ramachandran and Jayalalitha, have been elected as Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu just because of their movie acting. (No you cannot compare them to Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Large numbers of Indians know more about Indian politics than what is happening in Malaysia. They may not know the names of Malaysian Cabinet Ministers but they will know the names of Indian Chief Ministers and other Indian politicians. This shows that, after 150 years, many of the Indians have not fully grafted their roots to the local conditions. This must change. The Indians are ready to migrate to Australia (or to the Queen of England’s kampong) and sing Waltzing Matilda in English to earn Australian citizenship. Why not remain in Malaysia and learn to speak Malay properly?
Finally, the Indian Hindus, all of them, including the RSS, the Punjabis, the Gujeratis, the Brahmins and the estate Indians, must get together and propose to the Barisan Nasional Gomen to pass laws that make it illegal and a crime to practice any kind of caste system in Malaysia. This means that all Hindu temples must be open to all Hindus, irrespective of caste. Any Hindu, and not just a Brahmin, can become a priest at the Hindu temples.
The RSS will definitely not agree to this suggestion. The RSS is the vanguard of the caste system and seeks to protect the position of the Brahmins. More than the BN Gomen, more than the conditions in the estates, more than Tamil schooling or Tamil movies, the caste system is the single most backward and degrading force that holds back all Indians. Whether Sindhis, Gujeratis, Punjabis, Tamils, Telugus, RSS, etc., they are all negatively affected by the really stupid and false caste system. Get rid of the caste system and the Indians will bloom to become a great people.
And the Indians in Malaysia definitely do not need 17,000 temples for three million Hindus. What for? Each temple needs a Brahmin priest, a commitee and it spreads more religious prejudice and anger. The same with suraus and mosques. Why do we need so many mosques. Over the past 15 years thousands of suraus and mosques have been built. Each one now has its imam, committee, etc. Each one is spreading religous prejudices. We do not need so many mosques or Hindu temples. Enough is enough. Only the RSS and PAS boys are interested in temples and mosques because they can control the temples and mosques. Temples and mosques bring in money. The more temples there are, the more money accrues to the brahmins.
But this initiative can only come from the Indians. The Malays and the Gomen will not even know where to begin on this one. They have no idea of the caste system. So the Indians cannot expect any help in this area from the Gomen. It is the Indians who must move this initiative. There will be plenty of resistance from the RSS and gang but you must all get together and kick this caste sucker into the sea. Otherwise it is all a complete waste of time. The Indians must be the inheritors of Thiru Valluvar, Bagat Singh, Ranjit Singh and Bharatiyar. They were real heroes. Ghandi was confused. Godse was a nut.