Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a member of an oppressed minority. I am neither a Bumiputra nor an Orang Asal. I am not a woman. I don’t even come from an estate background; Indians from there are often discriminated against by the system including their own kind, the so-called elites. The closest I felt like a minority was when I worked in a semi-government body after uni, and felt the occasional tinge of discrimination against Indians. Still, that was minor.
In a sense, I can never fully understand the feelings a minority person goes through. Hence, any attempt to give advice to the minorities of Malaysia is audacious. None of us are completely qualified to comment on their situation, specially me.
However, a better Malaysia would require better leaders, something we have to work together for. We have to learn to vote better. We haven’t been doing so, and that is why we often find some of the most dishonest people in society right at the top. Perhaps we have a bad system, or we don’t know how to vote. Most likely, the candidates managed to fool us.
One way some politicians fool us is by playing vote-bank politics. They understand the emotion of oppression felt by the minority, claim to be their saviors and ask for their vote in return. The minority votes for the candidate or party in the hope that they will come to power and protect them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. What happens is that the wrong guy is chosen for the job, someone who is neither competent nor honest. He is chosen because he is a symbol of hope for the minority.
However, decades pass and the minority remains as oppressed as ever. Of all the minorities lured into such deceptive vote-bank schemes, Indians are wooed the most because their community is one of the largest in terms of actual numbers. They are often believed to vote en-bloc. Also, as a community, they face significant oppression. Appeal to that injustice, and one can bring them all together, and hopefully, get a nice block vote for a politician. Yesterday during the MIC’s 66th annual general meeting Najib Tun Razak said Indians were BN’s fixed deposit. Najib said “In the 11th general election , the BN had its fixed deposit in the Indian voters but in the 12th general election, the Indian fixed deposit moved from the BN bank to the opposition bank.” “Maybe our interest rates were not good in 2008 for the Indian fixed deposit votes, but over the last three years, I have raised the interest rates and they are making a comeback to the BN bank.” “The confidence on the BN government is back,” Najib said. See how pathetic and annoying this statement is, its really an insult to all Indians if they look at themselves as FIXED DEPOSIT.
Indians have been had. Yes, they have been fooled time and again by these politicians who promised the world, but kept them oppressed as ever. They may have given RM500 after 50 years, but they kept the whole community poor due to discrimination and racism. And yes, they have fooled the Indians the last fifty years or so. They kept them busy with the Tamil school debates, while they hid the fact that the community was going downhill and suffering due to their discriminative policies. While the Indians form just 7% of the total population, they account for 63% arrested under the Emergency Ordinance for violent crimes and gangsterism.
For when an Indian student doesn’t get a good college after school, and do not get a government job it doesn’t matter if he is Muslim or Hindu or a christian or even Buddhist, it still hurts the same. When police treat Indians worse than animals, the race matter. Indians rank lowest in national elementary-school examinations, about one in every 12 Indian children do not even attend primary school. When 90% of Indians cannot afford a decent university education, it isn’t the community alone who feel the pinch. We all do, and it is time to ask our leaders to fix the problems rather than create new, artificial ones.
I want to urge the Indians to keep the heat on politicians. Do not commit your vote or loyalty to any political party forever. Time has shown, they will only take you for granted. One should keep their vote floating, and in the end vote for the better (or less worse) party. Your vote has much more power if it can change over time.
The above, however, still doesn’t take away the fact that minorities face oppression. Laws should be in place to prevent discrimination, and culturally, Indians will have to become open-minded if they have any dream of seeing Malaysia as a developed nation. We as minority members have to be extra cautious to not hurt feelings of others. Of course, there have been situations where even the majority community has suffered because they were a local minority, for instance. In such cases, the communities should be sensitive to the feelings of others too.
We are at a unique point in Malaysia’s history. A significant part of the population is craving for change. Vote-bank politics and hating each other’s religion should be chastised and branded un-Malaysian. After all, all religions have stood the test of time and are great. It is our nation, yours and mine, that has to be made great now. Are you on board?