Thursday, December 20, 2007

Malay gets special privileges, Ethnic Indians get a dud hotline !

Malays gets special privileges, Ethnic Indians get a dud hotline!

One gets special privileges, another gets a hotline

Ganesan Doraisami | Dec 19, 07 4:33pm

In the last Umno general assembly, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi claims that the Barisan Nasional and its power sharing approach have benefited the country. I don't remember the last time Malaysia had a non-Malay prime minister or deputy prime minister. Only Abdullah knows what power sharing he is talking about when power is never shared.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak claims that Indian are not marginalised. How do we explain the status quo of Indian Malaysians today? As long as government policies are race-based, marginalisation will happen. But then again, Najib's father is the architect of marginalisation.

The deputy prime minister thinks that Hindraf's actions in voicing the plea of Indian Malaysians will tarnish Malaysia's image. Here's a novel idea. To prevent tarnishing our image, let's have equal rights and status for all Malaysian citizens. Allow Indians to buy houses with 7 percent discount too.

Let Indian children enroll in government universities, in their first choice of degree programmes. Give Indian children government scholarship so that they can go overseas to further their higher education. Let Indians have high ranking positions in the civil service. Allow Indians to invest in Amanah Saham. Let's give meaning to the word 'citizenship'.

If Najib wants to have a good image then practice policies that uplift equality. There is nothing negative about Hindraf wanting to bring the plea of Indian people to the world stage. The world must know what is going on here. Maybe Najib can explain why government policies has created second-class citizens in Malaysia.

Maybe Najib can explain to the international community why one citizen deserves special constitutional privileges while another citizen gets a hotline. Maybe Najib can explain to the world why not all Malaysian citizens are equal under the constitution. Maybe Najib can explain why the government arrests citizens under the draconian ISA to protect their power grips. Maybe Najib can explain why the printed media in Malaysia are controlled.

The reality is that no one can disagree with these oppressors. If this is not so, then why must Cameron Highlands parliamentarian K Devamany explain his remarks? The current policy is that anyone who slightly agrees with the core issues brought forward by Hindraf will face repercussion. Instead of addressing the message, the messengers are being attacked, silenced and marginalised. If Najib wants a good image, all he has to do is provide equality.

It is important that people do not only associate ethnic cleansing with act of violent killing. Ethnic cleansing can be carried over a few generations simply by neglecting an ethnic group or by having policies that overly protect one ethnic group's economic interests and well-being. Ethnic cleansing can take its course through neglect and closing all avenues of hope. It can also be achieved by not providing solutions to the core problems and by marginalising educational opportunities.

My hope is that readers of Malaysiakini, both in Malaysia and overseas, will do their part to highlight the plea of Indians in Malaysia. You can do it by spreading the word to your local community at the very least. Hope for resolution lies in our hands. The next generation of Indians should not feel the hopelessness this generation feels.

Attack dogs like Nazri Aziz is calling those who want change "thugs". I wonder if he feels that Malays are thugs for running amok whenever their status is questioned. The reality in Malaysia today is that you cannot gather without permit and these are always issued by the police, never on merit alone.

We must remember that the British did knock our door and offer independence. Independence took a few years of proactive fighting. We should remember how the British used laws against public gatherings because they wanted to protect their power status. Today, any gathering that challenges the ruling government defined as illegal. When people want change but cannot assemble to voice these changes, what other avenue is left? The truth is that every avenue has literally been closed.

Nazri has warned Tamil Nadu's chief minister not to meddle in what he calls our "internal affairs". Responsible leaders all over the whole have the right to voice their opinions. Someone once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The truth is that politicians like Nazri are on the wrong side of social justice. The only way they can win any argument is by using the ISA, fear and authoritarian rule.

These guys will never be able to defend their position in a civilised public debate. And what do they do? They sweep everything under the carpet of sedition, sensitivity and harmony. The bottom line is that these attack dogs in Umno has always condemned any movements asking for equal status. What these attack dogs have failed to understand is that giving equal opportunity to Indians does not chip away their status.

The government is waiting for things to cool down a little. Next, the government will announce news about all kinds of programs to uplift the Indian community. The government will mellow down on its tone. We have already seen an attack dog like Nazri Aziz commenting that the Selangor Chief Minister Khir Toyo did not handle the temple demolition well, that the plan to demolish the temple right before Deepavali was an ill-conceived idea. Meanwhile, Khir Toyo is saying that only Selangor gives free land to temples. Where were Nazri's comments the week after the temple was demolished? Nazri is only speaking up now.

People should watch the situation carefully as they are waiting to strike. Because the general election is around the corner, the government will take the high road and highlight its efforts for the Indian community. Their effort now is to mellow its tone and cozy up with the Indians. They will start announcing news about how they are looking to increasing our share in public sector hiring, giving more money to schools and other things.

A new set of illusions will be created in our minds that the government works for our well-being. So far, the government has only promised to look into our grievances. There are no guarantees that it will be addressed by these leaders after the elections. We should not buy in this unimportant gesture and be satisfied with their management.

The only way any meaningful change can take place for us is to deny Barisan Nasional a two thirds majority. Without a clear majority, the Barisan Nasional has to negotiate with the opposition and cannot pass any legislation unilaterally. They have created the illusion that without a clear mandate, people will suffer over the years. But without a clear mandate, only Barisan Nasional suffers because it loses its absolute power and has to compromise with the opposition to pass any laws.

The best way for the people to resist neglect and to negotiate a better future is by denying Barisan Nasional a majority. Without the Chinese and Indians' support, Umno will never have a clear majority to run the country and will have to negotiate policies and programmes on the basis of economics, not race. Let's not listen to Barisan Nasional's lies again about what will happen if they are not in power.

The only ones who will feel the pinch should the Barisan Nasional lose power is the Malays. The Chinese and Indians can form a block equally formidable to Umno. A balance of power is the only way for all races to be treated fairly. It is the only way to bring Umno to the table to renegotiate terms of any future coalition.

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