by Joe Fernandez
COMMENT Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, in his Deepavali Day message, asked the Indian Nation in Malaysia – a people without territory in the Diaspora – to place Nambikkai (trust) in him. If he wants to be given the benefit of the doubt, there’s little indication that he deserves it.
This should not be about a man, a personality cult, but a system. Leaders come and go, but a system lives on, a people live on.
Indians, others as well, cannot continue to be held to ransom by whoever occupies the Prime Minister’s chair.
Instead, they need to see concrete action on the ground to dismantle the apartheid-like structure that Umno has foisted on Malaysia.
Indians in particular are victims of this structure of evil which is a manifestation of racism – feelings of inferiority – prejudice (being against something for no rhyme or reason) and opportunism (the ruling class monopolizing all opportunities).
Deepavali is a Time for Remembering that the Government continues to take away from the Indian Nation in Malaysia what little they have in order to reduce them to a community of thieves, beggars, and prostitutes eaking out a living in the shanty towns so that some other people can look good and feel good.
Indians are bearing the brunt of government policies which works against them. If this process continues, Indians will become refugees in their own land, internally-displaced people confined to the shantytowns.
Indians first in Peninsular Malaysia after Orang Asli
If we go back in history, we will discover that Indians were the first people to be in Peninsular Malaysia after the Orang Asli who themselves made their way from East Africa by way of the Indian coast. Between now and the coming of the Orang Asli, there have always been Indians in Peninsular Malaysia. The Kedaram Civilisation in Kedah arose from more than a millennium ago on the back of colonials, the Pallavas, from India. The purpose was to act as the middlemen in trade between India and China.
Indian presence in Peninsular Malaysia predates the Thais and the present Malay-speaking communities – Bugis, Javanese, Minang, and Acehnese etc – but has been downplayed by politically-minded historians to a mere phenomenon of British colonialism from two hundred years ago.
Away from history, Indians in Peninsular Malaysia today find themselves marginalized and disenfranchised under the Umno Government which has lasted, by hook and by crook if not default, for 55 years. Indians don’t have even one seat in Parliament or any of the state assemblies.
The result of marginalisation and disenfranchisement has as placed Indians in an unfortunate position where even the little that they have continues to be taken away from them by Umno under administrative laws – government policies in action – and there appears to be no let up in the process.
Najib’s nambikkai focused on ballot box, his survival
It’s in this atmosphere of mistrust and distrust that Najib is pleading for nambikkai from Indians with an eye on the ballot box and his political survival.
An example, as pointed out by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Legal Advisor P. Uthayakumar, is that no local authority in Malaysia will issue even a cendol licence to Indians. If Najib cannot ensure that Indians can’t obtain even a cendol licence, he has no business asking for nambikkai from Indians.
The civil service, at one time, used to be the bastion of support for Indians to the extent that they made up over 60 per cent of the top-ranking staff. Meritocracy reigned.
Today, it’s a far cry as the lack of diversity – blame it on mediocrity — in the civil service has seen the number of non-Malays decline to less than 10 per cent. This may be attributed to the fact that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohd advised the civil service in his day to throw away applications from non-Malays. This fact was recorded in a PhD study by Professor Ramasamy, the present Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang. Rama was booted out from a university for the revelation and was invited by Dap to join up. The rest is history.
Najib has made no effort whatsoever to ensure that the civil service embraces the concept of diversity. Instead, we are being told that non-Malays are not interested to signing on and a great pretence is being made in wooing non-Malays. Ajak ajak ayam!
In 2008, Indians voted against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and helped the Opposition win by default in the face of an urban-rural divide.
Recipe for political victimization after 13th General Elections
This time, Indians are being asked to choose between the BN and the Opposition. This call makes little sense since the community has been effectively marginalized and disenfranchised as evident, at the risk of repetition, in zero seats for them in Parliament and the state assemblies. Hence, being forced to choose between the BN and the Opposition is a sure recipe for political victimization in the aftermath of the elections.
The Indians would be better off if they eschew party politics and coalition politics.
Hindraf Makkal Sakthi is engaged in talks with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). The ad hoc human rights organisation working across the political divide has a 18 Point List of Demands. http://hindraf.org/18-points-demand.html
Najib has jumped on the bandwagon and wants to engage Hindraf too. He forgets that Badawi, his predecessor, spurned the opportunity in late 2007 in the face of racist advice and suffered March 2008.
It’s not really necessary that Indians must be represented in Parliament and the state assemblies since such representation does not benefit them but only a handful willing to subscribe to tokenism and window-dressing. Hindraf calls it mandore politics, whatever that means. But they may have a point or two here if Indian legislators are afraid to even utter the word “Indian” for fear of being branded “racist” and losing their non-Indian votes.
It’s a no win situation.
Indians must flock to the ballot box independent of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and other political parties.
Indians must forsake party politics, coalition politics
This calls for voting against any Indian who offers himself or herself to the electorate at the forthcoming 13th General Election.
Indians must also forsake party politics and coalition politics and look at the track record of the incumbents and candidates who offer themselves.
Indians, being members of a 3rd Force which can emerge in Parliament to ensure that no one has a two-third majority, should not vote for or against parties or coalitions.
They should vote against incumbents who have not performed for them.
They should also vote against incumbents who have performed for them but have been in the state legislatures or Parliament three terms or more in a row.
Elements of the 3rd Force in Parliament: Sabah and Sarawak in general and the Orang Asal in particular; Sabahans & Sarawakians in Peninsular Malaysia; Orang Asli; other minorities; Christians in Peninsular M’sia; fence-sitters i.e. those who support neither PR or BN; the Indian underclass and other Indians; Youths including the children of the Tudungs; and Women including the Tudungs who are being enslaved mentally and being deprived of their human rights; the urban poor; and the citizenship-holding relatives of stateless people, special pass holders, temporary residents & permanent residents; and victims of loan sharks, banks – being denied access to credit — the Land Office, local authorities, the Courts and police brutality.
Deepavali is a Time to Focus on Victory over Evil, Light over Darkness.
Evil, keeping the Nazi holocaust in mind, is best defined as the lack of empathy.