Tuesday, December 25, 2007

List of Hindu temples demolished, Feb. 2006 to June 2007


Tue, 12/25/2007 - 00:02 — shawnmorgan

From 22.2.2006 TO 13.6.2007 (one year and four months), 79 HINDU TEMPLES in MALAYSIA were demolished:


1. The Sri Ayyanar Sathiswary Alayam Temple (more than 65 years) Jalan Davies was demolished on 22.2.2006 and the statues buried at site.

2. The Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple Pantai(more than 100 years) was demolished on 17.4.2006 by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

3. The Vaalmuniswarar Rajaamman Kovil(more than 60 years) at Lady Templer Hospital demolished on the 3.05.2006 by City Hall Kuala Lumpur.

4. Sri Kaliamman temple at Midlands Estate, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam (more than 100 years) was demolished by the Shah Alam City Hall on 9.5.2006.

5. The Sri Balakrishan Muniswarer temple in Setapak (more than 60 years) was partly demolished on 11.05.2006 by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

6. The Sri Balakrishan Muniswarer temple in Setapak was completely demolished and deities broken up on 8.6.2006.

7. The demolished Sri Kaliamman temple at Midlands Estate, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam was demolished for a second time on the 12.06.2006 wherein 3 main Hindu deities were hammered and smashed up to pieces with a sledge hammer by the Shah Alam City Council enforcement officers.

8. On 1.08.2006 the Om Sri Sakti Nagamma Allaya Hindu Temple in Taman Sri Manja, PJS 3/30 Petaling Jaya, Selangor was demolished by the Petaling Jaya City Council.

9. Demolishment of the Sri Subramaniam temple in Country Homes, Rawang, Selangor, Malaysia on 29.09.2006.

10. On 31.10.2006 Sri Muniswarar Temple (more than a 100 years old) which was built on private land in Bandar Rinching, Semenyih Selangor was demolished.

11. The demolishment of the Devi Sri Karumaniamman Hindu Temple, Petaling Jaya Utara, Section 21, Kampung Taman Aman on 30.11.2006.

12. On 29.12.2006 Sri Muniswarar Temple (more than a 100 years old) which was built on private land in Bandar Rinching, Semenyih Selangor was demolished.

13. On 22/2/2007 the Sri Maha Nageswari Hindu Temple in Taman Cahaya 7, Ampang, Selangor Darul Ehsan was demolished.

14. On 15.5.2007, the JKR Sri Muniswarar Hindu Temple, Jalan Kapar, Klang was demolished.

15. On 13.6.2007 the Sri Kaliaman Hindu temple in Midlands estate Shah Alam was demolished.

16. The Demolishment of the Sri Maha Sivalingaeswarrar Hindu Temple, Batu 7,
Gemas Tampin 10/04/2002.

17. The 80 year old Sri Muthumariamman Alayam Hindu Temple in Skudai Johor
Bahru was demolished in August 2006.

18. Statutes from Sungai Wangi Mathurai Veeran Temple (60 years old) in Sitiawan, Kampung Tirali, 9th Mile Jalan Air Tawar, Sungai Wangi Estate, Perak were hammered, smashed up and thrown into a drain and temple demolished on 17.10.2006 by the Manjung District Council.

19. The 55 year old Kaliaman Alayam Hindu Temple in Taman Impiana Mengelembu
in Ipoh was demolished on 27/11/2006.

20. Kuil Hindu Sri Mariaman di Seksyen 11, Shah Alam has been given notice to the demolished on 26.4.2006 from the Shah Alam Municipal Council.

21. The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Taman Intan Baiduri Selayang has been given notice to be demolished recently (Nanban June 2006)

22. The Sri Subramaniam Temple Kg.Jawa Klang(107 years old) has been given notice to be demolished (June 2006).

23. The Mariamman Temple Jalan Meru Bandar Setia Alam, Shah Alam (101 years old) has been given notice to be demolished (June 2006)

24. The Kg.Jawa Mariamman Temple (more than 120 years) has been given notice to be demolish (June 2006).

25. The Sri Maha Laxhsmi temple in Sunway has been given notice to be demolished by the Petalaing Jaya City Council in June 2006.

26. The Sri Angineer Temple in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur built on a private land has been given notice to be demolished by the Kuala Lumpur City Manager(June 2006).

27. Sri Mahamariaman Hindu Temple in Kg Semarak, Old Klang Road has been threatened with demolishment five (5) times before on TOL Land-Nanban(6/7/06) pg. 12

28. Sri Sai Bala Raman Hindu Temple in Klang Jaya is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (7/7/06)

29. 101 year old Dewi Sri Karumari Aman Temple in 4 1/2 Mile Jalan Meru, Klang was ordered closed by Selangor State Government on 10.07.2006 and thereafter the said temple is threatened to be demolished to make way for housing development.

30. The 101 year old Thevy Sri Karumariamman temple’s Bandar Setia Alam, Shah Alam access road to be closed on 10.7.2006 by the Selangor State Government and later to be demolished to make way for a private housing development.

31. Arun Estate Temple in Shah Alam- Nesan (12/7/06) pg. 6

32. In July 2006 the 110 year old Tepi Sungai JKR Mariaman Temple was given notice to be demolished.

33. In July 2006 the Sri Muniswarar temple in Jalan Air Panas Baru Setapak was given notice to be demolished.

34. In July 2006, the Sri Jada Muniswarar Hindu Temple in Danau Kota, Kuala Lumpur was given notice to be demolished.

35. Jedda Manismanar Hindu Temple in Jalan Setapak was informed to vacate is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan(17/8/06)

36. Sri Maha Megeswari Hindu Temple in Lembah Jaya, Ampang is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(20/8/06)

37. Muniswarar Hindu Temple in Bandar Baru Ampang is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(20/8/06)

38. Sri Sakti Vinayar Hindu Temple in Kampung Ampang Indah is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(20/8/06)

39. Mariaman Hindu Temple in Kg Tasik Permai, Ampang is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(20/8/06)

40. Siti Subramariam Hindu Temple in Kg Tasik Permai, Ampang is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(20/8/06)

41. Sri Mariaman Temple (60 years old) in Section 18 given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

42. Sri Kaliaman Temple (80 years old) in Section 18 given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

43. Sri Vinayagar Temple (80 years old) in Section 18 given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

44. Sri Mariaman Temple (109 years old) in Section 19 which has a sacred 100 year old tree given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

45. Sri Mariaman Temple (100 years old) in Section 15 given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

46. Sri Maha Mariaman Hindu Temple in Section 11 given notice to relocate on 18/10/2006.

47. The 80 year old Sri Athi Muniswara Temple in Jalan Semarak, off Jalan Gurney in Kuala Lumpur was given notice to be demolished on 19.10.2006.

48. On 21.11.2006 the Sivaksakthi Linggeswara Hindu Temple in Kampung Tropikana, Jalan Padang Tembak, Subang Jaya given notice to be demolished.

49. The Sri Kamatchie Amman Telecoms Temple Cheras (more than 100 years) is being threatened with demolishment.

50. Despite receiving recognition from UNESCO, Nageswari Hindu Temple in Bangsar is being threatened with demolishment.

51. The Sri Muniswarar Aalayam Seremban (150 years) and a 150 year old Raintree have been threatened with demolishment since March 2006 by the District and Land Office .

52. On 26.6.2006 the 110 year old the Sri Chinna Karuppan Temple in Masai Johor was given notice to be demolished.

53. The 60 year old Saiva Muniswarar Temple Temple in Sg.Petani Kedah given notice to be demolished (Nanban 29.6.2006 pg 4)

54. Sri Muthumariaman Aman Skudai Hindu Temple (70 years old) in Lindon Estate risks being demolished- Nesan (3/7/06) pg. 7

55. Sri Muniswarar Temple in Slim River- Nesan (14/7/06)

56. On 15.7.2006 the Muniswarar Temple in Sitiawan was given notice to be demolished- Nanban(15/7/06)

57. Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

58. Sri Nageswari Amman Alayam Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

59. Muniswarar Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

60. Sri Sakti Viyanayagar Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

61. Sri Maha Mariaman Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment - Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

62. Sri Subramaniam Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan (19/7/06) pg. 6

63. Muthu Mariaman Hindu Temple in Liutan Estate Skudai threatened to be demolished on 13.08.06.

64. Sri Subramaniam Hindu Temple in Kampar is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(21/8/06)

65. Bangi Mariaman Hindu Temple is being threatened with demolishment -Nesan(23/8/06)

66. Taman U Hindu Temple in Skudai, Johor Bahru was on the verge of being demolished when about 600 Hindu devotees protested on 23.08.06.

67. Sri Mathuraimeeran Hindu Temple in Kampar Taman, Sri Wangi is being threatened with demolishment -Nanban(25/8/06).


68. The Ganggai Muthu Karumariaman temple in PMR Batu Buntung Estate Kulim,
Kedah on 15.5.2006 was torched by unknown / mysterious criminals.
69. The Sri Kalikambul Kamadeswarar temple in Ebor Estate Batu Tiga, Shah Alam Selangor.

70. The Sri Kalkattha Kaliamman temple in Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, 47400 Petaling Jaya.

71. The Sri Muneeswarar JKR Temple, Batu 5/12, Jalan Kapar, 42100 Klang, Selangor (73 years old) was given notice to be demolished forced to be relocated next to a severage tank (June 2006). (Hindraf)

72. Sri Kumaravel Hindu Temple in Kampung Medan, Petaling Jaya, Selangor was forcibly relocated next to a sewarage tank, electric station (TNB) and high voltage cable on 14.07.2006 . (Makkal Osai 15.7.06)

73. Mariaman Hindu Temple in Bukit Beonang, Taman Bukit Melaka forced to relocate next to sewerage tank.(Nanban 25/8/2006)

74. Sri Raja Rajeswarar Hindu Temple in Taman Tunku Jaafar, Senawang, Seremban. (Hindraf)

75. Mariaman and Perumal Hindu Temple in Puchong Perdana, Selangor. (DAP sources)

76. Mariaman Temple in Desa Mewah, Sunway Semenyih forcibly relocated next to a septic tank. (Bandar Rincing, Semenyih Temple Chairman)


77. Statues from 73 year old JKR Sri Muniswarar Temple, Jalan Kapar Klang Temple was forcibly removed and taken away under mysterious circumstances in July 2006.
78. Deities from the Devi Sri Karumariaman Hindu Temple, Petaling Jaya Utara, Section 21, Kampung Taman Aman forcibly removed and left in a construction site.

79. Kaliamman Hindu Temple, Jalan Matin Batu 5 Seremban (more than 28 years) deities and temple bell was removed. (Nanban - 3.9.2006)


Malaysian dilemma: a book about livelihood of Malaysian Indians

The Malaysian Indian Dilemma

A research finding that must be read by all Malaysian Indians.

The ‘Malaysian Indian Dilemma’ is a book about the Malaysian Indian community, focusing on its economic, educational, social and political status, in the past and present. The book that is to be launched soon, is authored by Mr. Janakey Raman Manickam, a social activist and freelance writer. Tun Dr. Mahathir wrote the book ‘The Malay Dilemma’ in 1970. A prominent Malaysian born Australian businessman, Mr. Ye Lin Sheng, wrote ‘The Chinese Dilemma’ in 2003. Now Mr. Janakey Raman has taken upon himself to expose the dilemma faced by the Malaysian Indian community. He has written this book based on extensive research and his very own personal experiences working as an estate worker for 15 years.

‘The Malaysian Indian Dilemma’ is an insight into the socio-economic status of the Indian community. Even though the country attained independence 50 years ago, Malaysian Indians who constitute 7.6% of the total population are still lagging behind other communities in terms of socio-economic development. It highlights the fact that though Indians have contributed immensely towards economic development and nation building, they have been categorically neglected and even denied of their rights as Malaysian citizens. Estate workers continue to toil hard in order to make ends meet and poverty is not uncommon among the urban Indians. However, people in power have not given due attention to the plights of the Indians. The book has detailed accounts, supported with relevant data, of the causes of socio-economic problems faced by Malaysian Indians and its negative effects of on the community.
The author also discusses in detail the views of the Malaysian Indian community on the social, economic, educational and political issues. The book is divided into 8 chapters spanning 480 pages and contains pictures and valuable information about the pre-independence struggles of the Malaysian Indian, post independence status of the Malaysian Indian community, vis-à-vis the New Economic Policy, the New Development Policy, Vision 2020 and the future challenges faced by Malaysian Indians.

Having covered the past and present, the author concludes the book by leaving it to the readers to decide what is to be the future of Malaysian Indians. A must read book by every Malaysian Indian.!!! If you interested to buy, please contact the author Mr. Janakey Raman ( Hand phone no.: +06 013-3927727).
Gunasegaran Kulanthy Velu (Dec. 25, 2007)


Malaysia needs moderation, says PM

Malaysia needs moderation, says PM

Hope he will release Hindraf detenus and call them for a dialogue. Such a move will make for a united Malaysia destined to be a leading partner in the Indian Ocean Community.


Malaysia needs moderation, not extremism, says PM
Tuesday December 25, 2007
MYT 7:36:01 PM

Video: http://videos.thestar.com.my/default.aspx?vid=748

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians must give priority to moderation and not be dragged into extremism, as it would pull the people apart, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He said if the people did not emphasise on moderation, they would be easily pressured and influenced by extremism.

"If moderation does not take centre stage, extremism will take the place and we will all be dragged into it, it comes from the basis of religion, race or groups.
"This is what we should watch out for, this is what it give us problems," said Abdullah in his speech at a Christmas tea party organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia and hosted by KL Archbishop Datuk Murphy Pakiam.
He also called on the people to uphold the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect that they had been practising in a multi-racial community.

The Prime Minister said the country needed the strength of tolerance and friendship, which the people had for each other for the country to continue to grow and prosper.

He said Malaysi was a land of opportunity and a land where everyone knew how to respect one another and knew how to give and take.

Abdullah said everyone wanted a peaceful and harmonious country to live in, adding that this should the ultimate goal of every Malaysian.

"This is our responsibility that we have to carry out diligently, so that our country will become a peaceful country.

"I'm aware of religious issues that happen from time to time and we should solve these problems together with a very high level of understanding, tolerance and respect," he said.

Abdullah said he was very happy to be invited to the party, as he could see people of different religion, namely Buddhists, Hindus and Christians, getting together at the event.

"If we sit together and eat the same food, it symbolises the friendship, degree of tolerance and mutual respect," he added.

He also cited the similarities that Christian and Islam shared, adding that in the Quran, Jesus (Prophet Isa) was a servant of God.

Tragic tale of Indian diaspora in Muslim countries

December 24, 2007
Tragic tale of Indian diaspora in Muslim countries

By Shyam Khosla

THE Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) has rendered a yeoman’s service to the cause of Indian diaspora living in Muslim-majority countries by focusing global attention on the pitiable conditions in which most of the people of Indian origin work and live in Malaysia. It is now fairly known that around 18 lakh Malaysians of Indian origin who constitute more than eight per cent of the country’s population are victims of institutionalised policy of discrimination. There are communal and racial tensions in the country because of successive governments’ “Bhoomiputra” policy of positive discrimination in favour of majority Muslim Malays.

Racial politics that continue to prevail in Malaysia is responsible for the plight of ethnic Indians and to some extent Chinese. As if to add to the misery of ethnic Indians, more than 1.5 lakh Indian workers, majority of them from Tamil Nadu, have discovered that there visas were not being extended. Many of them are unskilled workers and labourers. They are at their wits’ ends and don’t know what awaits them in case the Government decided to throw them out. There were massive protests organised under HINDRAF’s banner at Kuala Lumpur last month against the Malaysian Government’s policy of discrimination against people of Indian origin living in the Muslim-majority Malaysia. The riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. Their grievances include plans to demolish a large number of Hindu temples, denial of jobs, fair wages and educational facilities. Rising influence of Islamic fundamentalism has further accentuated a sense of insecurity among minorities.

Unfortunately, the Indian State has seldom shown courage and fortitude in protecting Indian diaspora’s interests and helping them out in difficult situations. Rarely has the Government made earnest efforts to address the concerns of people of Indian origin. Of course, we never fail to celebrate spectacular achievement of any person of Indian origin whether or not he or she relates to his/her motherland. As is its wont, the UPA Government chose to ignore the ruthlessness with which the authorities in Kuala Lumpur dealt with the peaceful demonstrators. Delhi eventually expressed its concern over the developments only after public opinion in Tamil Nadu forced Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to raise the issue with the Prime Minister. On the other hand, House of Commons through an Early Day Motion signed by 17 MPs condemned the use of force by the police on protesters and the stated intentions of the Malaysian Government to demolish 79 Hindu temples. The motion called upon the British Government to make the strongest possible representation to the Malaysian Government to cease the programme of demolition and to allow the legitimate voice of protest to be heard without physical interference.

Malaysian Government’s response has been on expected lines. Insisting that ethnic Indians were not “our enemies”, it has shown some interest in setting up a special committee to look into the minorities’ demand to end their marginalisation. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi is outraged over the charge of “ethnic cleansing” and accused HINDRAF of spreading “blatant lies. His Foreign Minister dismissed India’s expression of concern as “interference” in his country’s internal affairs. “Ethnic cleansing” may be a harsh word that was difficult for the Prime Minister to digest, but can Kuala Lumpur deny that it proposes to demolish a large number of Hindu temples—an issue that has deeply hurt Hindus not only in Malaysia but also all over the world? Is it not a fact that a large number of Indian workers, who were taken to Malaysia by the British colonial rulers, are being harshly treated and have been reduced to second-class citizens? Can it deny the charge that there is discrimination against them in jobs and education? Interference argument doesn’t hold water. Every nation has the right, nay duty, to look after the interests of its citizens living abroad. Aren’t Indian citizens being denied extension of their visas? Let Kuala Lumpur come clean on issues rather than pretending outrage and complaining of interference in its internal affairs.

It is not only in Far East that the Indian diaspora is suffering. Their plight is no better in other Muslim majority countries, particularly in countries with growing Islamist clout. Around five lakh Indians work in the Gulf in horrific conditions at extremely low wages. The Government informed Parliament the other day that there was simmering anger and frustration among Indians working in Dubai. Working conditions in that country are pitiable and the earning of Indian workers has gone down considerably. That is why Dubai witnessed a worker’s uprising recently. Many who joined the protests are on the verge of losing their jobs. A large number of emigrants work in Saudi Arabia—a country known for flagrant denial of human rights. There are confirmed reports of several Indians having been sentenced to death for minor offences. Our Government’s insipid response to these incidents is in sharp contrast to strong protests the Western countries lodge when one of their national is convicted in another country and the efforts they make to get him back. Still fresh in our minds is the persistent and hard lobbying done by Russian Federation to secure the release of its citizens involved in the serious crime of dropping a consignment of arms in West Bengal after entering Indian air space without Government’s permission. Is New Delhi listening?

Let Kuala Lumpur come clean on issues rather than pretending outrage and complaining of interference in its internal affairs.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Rights activists in New Delhi protest against discrimination of Ethnic Indians in Malaysia

DECEMBER 24, 2007
Rights Activists In New Delhi Protest Against Discrimination Of Ethnic Indians In Malaysia

Human rights activists staged a demonstration at the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi today to protest against the demolition of temples and discrimination of the people of Indian origin in Malaysia .

The demonstration was held in view of the Malaysian governments crackdown on ethnic Indians and the demolition of the Shri Maha Mariamman Temple in Padang Jawa town.

“We are protesting against the demolition of temples by the Malaysian Government and also want them to stop discrimination against ethnic Indians in Malaysia . We want them to free Uday Kumar and withdraw all cases against him,” said Rajesh Gogna, Convenor, Federation of Human Rights Organisations of India.

Gogna also added that the Centre (Government of India) was doing little to protect the interests of the ethnic Indians in Malaysia .

On November 25, Malaysian police had used teargas to break up a demonstration of about 4000 ethnic Indians.

Ethnic Indians, who make up about seven percent of the population, complain that they are marginalised in terms of employment and business opportunities and places in universities. (Thaindian News)

***** It looks like the Hindraf rally and the subsequent government crackdown followed by the unsubstantiated state-sponsored and orchestrated character assassination of Hindraf and its leaders including the unjustified prosecutions and the immoral use of the ISA has not gone unnoticed.

The powerful emotions unleashed by the rally of impoverished and badly sidelined Malaysian citizens against blatantly racist practices by the ruling Umno party has found sympathy, understanding and support from rational quarters all over the world. The sight of helpless and unarmed men and women confronting the arms and ammunition of a brutal riot police force so vividly and dramatically exposed by youtube, has captured and crystallised the essence of the uphill struggle that these poor Indians are experiencing and that too against a remorseless, race-and-religion-obsessed political party dominated government.

FHROI Memorandum to Malaysian High Commmissioner in India

Mr. Uday Kumar and other activists of HINRAF have been arrested by the Government of Malaysia on the charges of incitement to rebellion and for having links with terrorist organisations.

FHROI (Federation of Human Rights Organisations of India)has strongly condemned this move of the government of Malaysia being barbaric and undemocratic. They are trying to crush the civil disobedience movement of the people of Indian origin in Malaysian and it is matter of deep concern for all of us.

FHROI had decided to present a memorandum and to stage a peaceful demonstration at the High Commission of Malaysia at New Delhi to demand immediate release of Mr.Uday Kumar and other human rights activists detained by the Government of Malaysia and to demand equal treatment to the people of Indian origin in Malaysia.

The details of the programme are as under:-

24th December 2007 (MONDAY)

1.30 Assembly at the parking of Chankaya Cinema, Chankaya Puri , New delhi.
1.45 Proceed towards Malaysian High Commission
2.00 Demonstration at Malaysian High Commission
2.30 Handing over of the memorandum

Attached is the copy of the memorandum handed over to the High Commissioner of Malaysia at New Delhi by the activists of FHROI led by its Convener, Mr. Rajesh Gogna, Advocate, Supreme Court of India:

8, Todarmal Lane, Bengali Market, New Delhi- 110 001

Phone: 65288241, 23718929 Fax-01123718929

Dated: 24.12.2007

The Hon’ble High Commissioner,

High Commission of Malaysia

New Delhi-110001

Sub: Discrimination of people of Indian Origin in

Malaysia and release of Advocate Uday Kumar and other Human Rights Activists .

Your Highness,

The Citizens and the Human Rights Organizations of India are deeply concerned about the violations of the Human Rights of the religious and linguistics minorities in Malaysia. We are more concerned about the discrimination being faced by the people of India Origin in Malaysia. The people of India are disturbed that the Hindu Temples are being systematically demolished and unreasonable restrictions are being imposed on religious minorities in Malaysia.

We are concerned that serious allegations of provoking rebellions have been leveled against the peaceful demonstrators and the leaders of a democratic/Human Rights movement and Advocate Uday Kumar & other leaders of HINDRAF have been arrested by the Government of Malaysia.

We demand that the Government of Malaysia should immediately stop the demolitions of temples in Malaysia and re-locate the temples already demolished. We also demand the unconditional release of Advocate Uday Kumar and other Human Rights Activists detained by the Government of Malaysia on the charges of incitement to rebellions.

We also demand that people of Indian Origin be given equal rights and opportunities along with proportionate representation in Government jobs and educational institutions.

We hope that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia, would be kind enough to look into the grievances of the people of Indian Origin in Malaysia and would find out a solution to their satisfaction.




Malaysia goes easy on Hindu temples

Malaysia goes easy on Hindu temples


Posted online: Monday, December 24, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

Kuala Lumpur, December 24:

In the wake of protests by ethnic Indians over the demolition of Hindu temples in Muslim- majority Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has ordered continuous monitoring of all Hindu shrines, a move to assuage the feelings of the community alleging their marginalisation in the country.

The task of monitoring has been given to Works Minister Samy Vellu, who said no temple, whether legal or illegally built, will be demolished without a "thorough check and discussions" with his Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a component of the ruling coalition.

Badawi wanted him to submit a report on the status of the temples to the cabinet periodically and forward to him and the cabinet the list of any temple that may have to be demolished for various reasons, Vellu said in a statement on Monday.

"As temples are sensitive matters, a new approach is necessary to resolve them and the MIC will take over this task completely," the MIC President said.

The Minister said he would travel to all the states soon to prepare a report on the number of temples in the country and their problems, which will be submitted to the Cabinet.

"We will identify the illegally-built temples first and check on their status. We want to know if there have been any moves or notices to demolish or relocate them," he said.

He said he would scrutinise all matters concerning temples with a view to ensure that no Hindu shrines were demolished in the future and if they had to be brought down then suitable alternative sites were allocated first.

"No temples, either legal or illegally built, will be demolished without a thorough check and discussions with the MIC," he said.

Vellu said Badawi had assured of the government's support in resolving any matters involving temples.

The issue came to the forefront when one of the leaders of the nongovernmental organisation Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) alleged large-scale demolitions of Hindu temples in the country.

The Hindraf organised a massive rally of ethnic Indians on November 25 to protest the alleged marginalisation of the community in the country. One of the issues raised by them was the demolition of temples.

Hindraf is demanding equal treatment for Indians, alleging that an affirmative action programme giving preferential treatment to Muslim Malays is tantamount to racial discrimination.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with 60 per cent of its 27 million people being Malay Muslims, 25 per cent Chinese and 7.8 per cent ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus from Tamil Nadu.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ethnic Indian Minister booed in public function...

Ethnic Indian Minister Samy Velu Booed in Public Function as Anger Mounts over Poor Representation of Indian Interests

Samy Vellu booed on “live” TV; are his political days numbered?

MIC president Samy Vellu was booed and publicly humiliated when he turned up to officiate at the Aattam 100 Vagai 3 (100 types of dance) performance at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) last night.

Sources tell me the crowd of 2,000-3,000 shouted obscenities at him including “po-dah” (the rude version of “get lost”) and he didn’t get a chance to complete his speech. One source told me he was surprised to hear that the women in the audience appeared more aggressive in admonishing Samy.

Bear in mind, this was a cultural event and not a political forum, so it would have been attended by a diverse crowd of Indian Malaysians - who have now become politically awakened as never before.

The event was supposed to be telecast “live” by Astro Vaanavil (Channel 201) and beamed to India, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Apart from Astro, the media partners supporting the dance show were Sri Lanka Rupavhini (TV) Corporation, Jaya TV India, Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation and Media-Corp TV12 Singapore Pte. Ltd. So Samy’s image in the region would have suffered more than a little dent.

Earlier yesterday, Samy Vellu was huddled with Penang MIC division heads in a closed-door meeting at the Equatorial Hotel near Pisa, probably discussing the Hindraf developments. I gather that 40-50 outsiders, probably Hindraf supporters, were prevented from nearing the hotel during the day.

Such is the anger on the ground among Indian Malaysians that Samy Vellu’s political days could well be numbered. In fact, I would say he has become a major political liability for the BN - but then who else have they got in the MIC? Then again, it’s not any single individual that Indian Malaysians are upset about (though Samy is probably the focal point of their frustration in view of scandals such as the Maika fiasco) - it’s the whole system they are railing against: the sense of being economically marginalised and disempowered for so long (in the same way that many other Malaysians of other ethnic groups are).

If at the last general election, the MIC delivered 80-90 per cent of the Indian Malaysian vote to the Barisan, several Indian Malaysians I have met are predicting that this time the MIC would be hard-pressed to deliver even 10 per cent.

That may be wishful thinking - and an underestimation of the BN “machinery” and mastery of racial politicking - but all indications are that the MIC is going to suffer a serious setback at the polls. (It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out!) And that could spell trouble for the BN in a string of constituencies, especially in areas where the majorities were wafer-thin in the 2004 general election.

Meanwhile, Anwar Ibrahim has been hitting the hustings in Penang over the weekend, holding a series of talks and forums in the state. From what I hear, he has been drawing significant multi-ethnic turnouts at some of these events including a session with Malay and Indian Malaysian squatters in Bukit Gelugor who are facing eviction. He promised them that, if elected, he would try and do something about their plight.

He appears to be having some impact, working the ground. Have a look at this Malaysiakini videoclip to see the rapport he has struck with Indian Malaysians at this earlier rally in Jalan Kebun, Klang on 14 Dec attended by 4,000 people.

The BN has good reason to be worried. All of a sudden, cracks are appearing in the BN fold and the juggernaut appears to be creaking. Will Samy dare to show up at any other public event in the future? Stay tuned…


Suvarnabhumi: Contacts between Indian and Malay cultures

Both Indians and Malays have made Malaysia the svarnabhumi (the golden land). This glorious heritage should be sustained and nurtured for the benefit of the present and future generations of all Malays. Malaysia is on a historic mission and can be on the vanguard for setting up an Indian Ocean Community (IOC) in partnership with India and other Indian Ocean Rim states. This IOC will be an economic powerhouse like the European Community and can become a reality soon. It is a historic opportunity for UMNO to seize the leadership of the mission and unite all political parties, all citizens of Malaysia. PM Badawi, please, please do not make this a partisan struggle in Malaysia, reach out to the Hindraf and other groups with grievances of marginalisation by releasing the Hindraf detenus and progress towards an inclusive dialogue. This will make Badawi go down in history as the architect of Malaysia-led Indian Ocean Community. Offer a vision for present and future generations to live for. IOC mission will be such an uniting force. It is for Badawi to seize the moment.



The Influence of India on Malay Cultures

HINDU influence in the Malay Peninsula was initially limited more or less rigidly to the upper class of old Malay society - the ROYALTY. Malay royalty was essentially Hindu royalty descended, accoding to the Malay Annals, "SEJARAH MELAYU", from a legendary half-Indian and half-Greek monarch, Raja Suran (decendents of Alexander the Great), whose sons all bearing Indian proper names, Sang Nila Utama, Krishna Pendita, Nila Pahlawan, then descended on Bukit Siguntang Mahameru in Sumatera from whence Malay royalty spread.

The spread of Hinduism was not the result of any organised missionary movement. Indian merchants by virtue merely of their feconomic standing, drew converts from the ruling and trading classes of the races with which they traded. If Hinduism was accepted, it was because of a desire for a better standard of living rather than because of an understanding and appreciation of a superior religious system.

Hinduism spread also through marriage. The small princes of the Malaysian coastal trading centres were glad to marry off their sons and daughters to the prosperous Indian merchants or their children. For those who lived in the outskirts of the trading centre, the Hindu influence was to come much later and in gradual stages. While the common people often followed the religious faith of their rulers, there was always an undercurrent of fear of evoking the wrath of their earlier animistic deities. Hinduism was assimilated only with a lot of local theological "spice" retained.

Early Malay literature is almost completely derived from Hindu epics, from the Ramayana and the Mahabaratha. Even today, a major portion of Malay vacabulary is made up of Sanskrit words. Today, when a Malay speaks a sentence of ten words, probably five of them will be Sanskrit words, there Arabic and the remaining either of English, Chinese, Persian, Portuguese or some other origin. One expert even made the sweeping claim that there are only four words in the Malay vocabulary which are genuinely Malay i.e. :-

"Api" (fire), "besi" (iron), "padi" (rice), and "nasi" (cooked rice).

Words such as :-

"putera' (son), "puteri" (daughter), "asmara" (love), "samudra" (ocean),
"belantara" (jungle), "kenchana" (gold), "sukma" (soul),

and literally thousands of other words are all Sanskrit words, either in original or in modified form.

What of the influence of India on the religious developments of the Malaysian peoples ? Malay
folk-lore and Malay literature show that during the period before the coming of ISLAM, about 1400 A.D., the greater gods of the Malay pantheon were really borrowed Hindu divinities. They were, in some respect, modified by Malay ideas, but only the lesser gods and spirits were actually native to the Malay religious system. It is true that these native gods and spirits can be identified with the great powers of nature, such as the Spirit of the Wind (Mambang Angin), the Spirit of the Waters (Mambang Air) and the Spirit of the Sun (Mambang Kuning). But none of them appears to have the status of the chief gos of the Hindu system. Both the land and water, the terrible Shiva and Betara Guru or Kala, are supreme.

In malay folk-lore we find Vishnu, the preserver, Brahma the creator, Betara Guru (Kala) and S'ri all invoked in Malays, especially by Malay magicians (Pawang and Bomoh). Of all the greater deities of the Hindu system, Betara Guru is unquestionably the greatest. In Hikayat Sang Sembah, the tales of Sang Sembah, Betara Guru appears as a supreme god with Brahma and Vishnu and some subordinate deities. It is Betara Guru who alone has the "water of life", the elixir of life, which can restore life to dead humans and animals. To the Malay of old, then, and to the Malay bomohs even of the present day in whom are preserved these notions, "Tok Betara Guru" or any one of the corruptions which his name now bears, was all-powerful god who held the place of Allah before the adveent of Islam, and was a spirit so powerful that he could restore the dead to life. All prayers were addressed to him.

Of the lesser deities of Hinduism, the most notable who have remained in Malay superstition and folk-lore are the "gergasi", half-human forest spirits of Hindu mythology represented in Malay folk-lore as tusked orgres that feed on human flesh. Then there is "Raksaksa", a race of cannibal giants ruled, according to the Indian Puranas, by Ravana. A tribe of raksaksa is mentioned in the Kedah annals, Hikayat Merung Mahawangsa, which tells of a giant king, Merung Mahawangsa, who led a tribe of giants and founded the present state of Kedah which they called Langkasuka. All in all, that a form of Hinduism was the accepted religion of the Malays prior to the advent of Islam is certain, and it is a fact amply proved by Malay folk-lore and superstition, Malay literature, Malay customs and various archaeological inscriptions.

Muslim religious teachers in Malaysia today still preach the Islamic concept of heaven in a terminology which is neither Malay nor Arabic, but Hindu. The sanskrit word "Syurga" is always used in connection with the Islamic concept of paradise. The proper Arabic word for this is actually "Al-Jannah". In the same way, the Hindu religious term "neraka" or hell is used by Muslim Malays to explain the Islamic concept of hell. The Arabic word for hell is "Al-Nar" or the place of fire. Then the Muslim fast, the annual religious abstention from food and drink, is known by the Sanskrit term "puasa". A Muslim religious teacher is often called "guru", another Hindu religious term, in fact the name of a Hindu deity, Betara Guru. The Muslim prayer is among the Malays, called "sembahyang". "Sembah" in Sanskrit means to pray, and "yang" is a Sanskrit term meaning divinity or conjuring respect, as in "Sang Yang Tunggal", the most divine one, and "Yang Dipertuan".

There are many other Hindu religious terms that have lost their original meaning and are being freely and unconsciously used by Muslim Malays in connection with the religion of Islam. This shows that Hinduism exerted a profound influence on Malay culture before the coming of Islam to Malay peninsula. And this influence has survived, despite the stict monotheistic restrictions of the Islamic faith, to the present day. So, in religion as well as in other aspects of Malaysian culturem we cannot treat the influences of India as something belonging to the past. The political influence of old India which was climaxed by the great Empires of "Sri Vijaya" and "Majapahit" is today at an end, but the cultural influence of India which began at the beginning of the Christian era is still very much alive, and it will be alive for many, many centuries to come because it has become part of life of the Malaysian peoples.

Write to the author: sabrizain@malaya.org.uk


Political awakening of Malaysian Indians

Political awakening of Malaysian Indians

Malaysian Indian political awakening - must not fall into trap of being tarred “anti-Malay”

MIC President and sole Indian Minister for more than 28 years, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu should have realized by now that it was a fatal mistake for him to believe that the “frustration and anger” of the Malaysian Indians who had taken part in the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 25 was not directed against him.

In his second TV appearance on RTM in four days, this time over the hour-long Tamil programme Karuthu Kalam or Opinion Forum on Saturday, Samy Vellu said the Indians had taken part in the Nov. 25 Hindraf demonstration “to register their anger over the inadequacy in the implementation of projects by the Government” and that their anger was not directed at him because he had not raised questions about or fought for the plight of the community.

Samy Vellu is wrong. The Hindraf demonstration had clearly two targets: Firstly, as the Gerakan Youth vice chief S. Paranjothy said, the 30,000 Indians took part in the demonstration to express their “frustration and anger” because the community had been “marginalized, oppressed and ignored”.

But there is a second target – none other than Samy Vellu himself for his failure after more than 28 years as MIC President and sole Cabinet Minister to prevent the long-standing political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization of the Malaysian Indians as to become a new underclass in Malaysia.
If Samy Vellu was in denial for almost a month after the Nov. 25 Hindraf demonstration, Samy Vellu should have begun to sense the truth when he was publicly booed and humiliated by a crowd of 2,000 – 3,000 at the Aattam 100 Vagai 3 (100 types of dance) cultural performance at the Penang International Sports Area (Pisa) on Saturday night.

There is palpable anger on the ground among the Indians in Malaysia at their long-standing marginalization, raising the question whether this political awakening could become a political tsunami by the Malaysian Indian voters in the next general election, creating upsets and surprises.

It is important that the political awakening of Malaysian Indians in the run-up to the next general election must not fall into the trap of being tarred as anti-Malay but must be solidly anchored as part of Malaysian national aspirations for justice and a proper place under the Malaysian sun for all marginalized groups.

Considerable political and propaganda efforts are being invested to label the political awakening of the Malaysian Indians as racist, chauvinist and anti-Malay, so as to accentuate racial and religious polarization and stampede Malays to unite solidly behind Umno in response to the perception that the Malays are under attack.
If the political awakening of the Malaysian Indians to end their long-standing marginalization falls into the trap of being tarred as anti-Malay, it would then be easy to counter and neutralize it challenge, making it counter-productive and destroying its potential to maximize the electoral possibilities in the next general election.

I had asked on Friday whether Malaysian Indian voters could create a political and electoral tsunami in the next general election expected next March in 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats where they comprise more than 10 per cent of the electorate, or in 21 parliamentary and 73 state assembly seats where they constitute more than 15% of the electorate?

I had said in Ipoh last Thursday that there are 62 parliamentary seats and 138 state assembly seats where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and that there are 28 parliamentary and 78 state assembly seats where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the voters where they can play the role of “kingmaker” in the electoral outcome.

These figures were wrong as they were based on the electoral roll used for the 2004 general election. The latest electoral data gives a different picture as there is a reduction of these constituencies – i.e. 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly constituencies where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and 21 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats in Peninsular Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the electorate.

The 50 Parliamentary constituencies where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate are as follows:

Kedah (4) - %
Padang Serai - 21.78
Merbok - 17.16
Kulim Bandar Baru 11.04
Sungai Petani - 10.40
Penang (3)
Batu Kawan - 22.35
Nibong Tebal - 14.43
Bagan - 13.27
Perak (13)
Sungai Siput 22.45
Bagan Datok 22.36
Ipoh Barat 21.24
Tapah 19.67
Telok Intan 19.02
Tanjong Malim 17.29
Beruas 13.75
Taiping 13.15
Tambun 11.53
Lumut 11.04
Batu Gajah 10.74
Bagan Serai 10.45
Kampar 10.04
Pahang (1)
Cameron Highlands 22.72
Selangor (14)
Kota Raja 25.91
Kuala Selangor 21.32
Hulu Selangor 19.01
Kuala Langat 17.99
Sepang 17.73
Kelana Jaya 17.59
Klang 17.43
Selayang 15.23
Shah Alam 14.71
Puchong 14.20
Subang 13.85
Petaling Jaya Selatan 13.38
Tanjong Karang 11.89
Kapar 11.77
Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur (3)
Lembah Pantai 17.94
Batu 14.31
Segambut 12.09
Negri Sembilan (6)
Telok Kemang 22.64
Rasah 19.15
Rembau 14.94
Jempol 13.35
Seremban 11.16
Malacca (1)
Alor Gajah 11.64
Johore (5)
Labis 14.63
Tebrau 12.70
Pasir Gudang 11.13
Segamat 11.08
Gelang Patah 10.87

As there is no single parliamentary or state assembly constituency in Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute the majority of the electorate and could singly decide who would be elected the MP or State Assembly representative, it is vital that the political awakening or even “uprising” must not be perceived as a threat to the other communities, such as falling into the trap of being tarred as “anti-Malay”, but as part of a Malaysian awakening of all marginalized groups in the country to demand for justice and an equal place under the Malaysian sun.

It is only if the Indian voters can join forces with voters from other communities to demand for an end to the marginalization of all Malaysian groups that the “political uprising” of the Malaysian Indians has the opportunity to create a political tsunami in the next general election, such as producing the historic result of denying the Barisan Nasional its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority.


Malaysian Indians: Just give us due respect...

Monday, December 24, 2007

JD says:"We have finally awaken from our long slumber and are voicing for what should be accorded to all citizens of a country equally without the descrimination of race or religion.Why did it take so long for us to wake up? Did we need Hindraf to ignite the flame that has been smouldering for years? Hindraf as a ngo gave voice to the issues that most Malaysian Indians know exist but never had the courage to speak up or see it as a cause to fight for,we have all been mentally brainwashed not by the government but by our own parents or guardians that we should not voice these issues because we will be in trouble with the law and that we should do our work and be pretencious. Even during the rally one could see that majority of the middle class Malaysian Indians stayed away or kept their children away from attending it. Most of our parents and guardians are and have been living in fear of voicing their concerns of the injustice thats happens in this country. We all are aware of the conversations we have behind close doors for fear of repercussions.

We face discrimination everyday everywhere from civil servant jobs,promotions in the civil service,private sector jobs,housing,racial stereotyping and most importantly education. A community can only better its self through education. If this is discriminated what is our chance of coming up in the future.This is not something the Malaysian Indian community brought up without merits.

A fine example would be this scenario: A Malaysian Indian student needs 4 or 5 A in the STPM examination to be able to enrol for a Medical seat in a local university while a Malaysian Malay student will qualify for the same seat with 4B and 1C or even lesser results. This is the injustice that discourages our children's feelings ,not only do they have to compete in difficult circumstances but achiving the results might not guarantee them the field of their choice. A European man once told me that he has travelled widely but what he found in Malaysia is that we are a nation that promotes mediocrecy. Isnt this true? And this is just a small example of the discrimination we face.

We all hold a MY card as our birth right to this country called Malaysia. We contribute to the building of the nation just as much as any other race. We are loyal to this country and would defend it against any foreign intrusions. Many Malaysian Indians have given their lives proctecting this country.We are not asking for special privileges neither are we asking that we be given free handouts, all we are asking is accord us the same privilege and rights as a citizen of Malaysia where all citizens of this country are equal in status as this is truly our "tanah tumpah nya darah ku". Just give us that due respect!"

Posted by JD


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Malaysian traditions from Hindu, Sanatana dharma

Bujang archaeological site and artefacts discovered in Kedah (kidaram of Chola times)

Malaysian traditions from Hindu, Sanatana dharma

We Rule in the name of Rama’s Paduka

Mahathir Mohammed, who ruled Malaysia as Prime Minister for twenty two years had some Indianness in him. The name Mahathir stands for 'Maha Dheer', which is the Sanskrit word for the most gallant.

In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, all the ministers including Prime Minister take oath in the name of the 'Sri Paduka', the Sanskrit version for the footwear of Rama. Remember that Bharata ruled Ayodhya for 14 years worshipping the Rama Paduka during the Lord's 'vanvas'.

The ministers in Malaysia take oath of office in the name of Lord Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’ and the agong or royal president takes oath of office in the name of the dust of Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka Dhuli’. Even if a masjid has to be built in Malaysia, the government orders are issued in the name of ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’. This is because Paduka Dhuli is considered holier than Paduka itself in the Indian tradition.

In Malaysia where Islamisation began earlier during the 13th century, the divine status of Rama was greatly reduced. He is more human, capable of committing errors and susceptible to his emotions, thus retaining and gaining acceptance among Malay Muslims by the 15th century. Through various indigents in Hikayat Seri Rama and Cherita Maharaja Wana that were written during the late 16th or early 17th century, all the main characters are closely related to each other, with Sita as the daughter of Ravana, and Hanuman being the son of Rama and Sita. The contest to win the hand of Sita involves numerous tests of the problem over the succession to the throne. It describes King Dasharatha as the great grand son of Adam, and Ravana becoming the emperor of four worlds by the blessings of Allah. Hikayat is studied today in Malaysia as a piece of literature.
From Pre-historic times of Sri Wijaya empire, through Chola-era in the 11th century cultural and trade relations down to James Brooke, the Banaras-born 19th century English adventurer who became the 'White Rajah' of Sarawak, India has never been far away from Malay popular consciousness. To this day, for Malaysia's princelings, yellow is the colour of royalty, a rajabhishek- style sprinkling of water marks every coronation.
Despite Islam’s ban on theater and dance, the performing arts based on Ramayan and Mahabharat survived in Malaysia and Indonesia. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory subjects in most of the universities. Indonesians take pride in saying ‘Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture’. Malay puppeteers perform old and new episodes from the epic with small leather figures that have only one moveable arm.

Hanuman of Ramayana is known as: Haduman, Hanuman Kera Putih, Kera Kechil Imam Tergangga, Pahlawan Udara, Shah Numan in Malay. Ayodhya the capital of king Das’aratha (father of Sri Rama) is called, in Malay: Andyapuri Negara, Ayodyapuri Negara, Ispahaboga, Mandarapura Negara, Sertapura, Siusia Mendarpapura, Tiutia Mendarapura. Sri Rama is: Agung Gempita, Seri Rama. Sita Devi is: Puteri bungsu Hanyut, Chahaya Keinderaan, Sakutum Bunga Satangkai, Sita Dewi, Siti Dewi. Tara, mother of Angada is: dewi Bermakomala, Tuan Puteri Kacha. Other Malay names from Ramayana are: Dauwichit, Gambar mahasakti, maharaja Duwana, maharaja Wana, Rahana, Raja Di Rimba, Rawana. Other Malay divinities’ names are: Guru, Dewata Mulya Raya, Gangga Sakti, Bisnu, Dewa Berembun.

In Malaysia, Deepavali, apart from being a national holiday, is an occasion for people of various ethnicities visit the home of their Hindu friends. They call this practice 'Open House' and state/national level open houses are also held whereby the state or federal govts hold Deepavali open houses for the masses. The homes of the Indian leaders are also thrown open to a throng of people who represent the diverse ethnic make-up which is what Malaysia is all about.

"Hikayat Seri Rama" the oldest extant copy of Malay version of Ramayan is known as a gem of Malaysian art and culture. Described by English scholars as a Malay literary work of "a Hindu prose narration with a few Islamic adjustments here and there" ...at the onset, successive copies gradually omitted more and more "unislamic beginning" of the saga. Another aspect of "adjustment" applies to names. For example, Dewata Mulia Raya or Greatest Divinity in Hindu has been replaced with Allah Ta'ala, the heroine Sita Devi becomes Siti Dewi. Probably the adaptations make it more appealing to the locals. Children got simplified versions as school texts before and during early days of independence at a time when Malay books were scarce.
The large number of new episodes, especially in the leather puppet theatre, shows how popular Ramayana remained in Malaysia due to centuries of Cambodian and Thai influences with which it shares many features. Tok Dalang the puppeteer always uses the same puppets. To be double sure there is no confusion, the main characters always have their "fixed colours": Rama is dark green, Sita is yellow, Laskhsmana is red, Hanuman is white and black for the evil Ravana.

In spite of these strong cultural links, Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in Malaysia. It is a tragedy that in the name of Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda, the Malaysian authorities are breaking Hindu temples one after the other. It is a heartbreaking calamity that 2 million Tamil Hindus in Malaysia are a suppressed and oppressed community praying for the world conscience to wake up.

In Malay, the word Bhasha stands for language, yet another link to Sanskrit. The husband is addressed as Swami, a teacher as Guru, a senior teacher as Maha Guru, a student as Siswa and a senior student as Maha Siswa. Modern buildings are named in Sanskrit – Chaya Surya, Wisma Putra and Wisma Duta to name only a few.

The president of the republic is addressed as Raja Parameswara, the Royal Queen is addressed as Raja Parameswari and the second son of the sultan is addressed with reverence as Laxmana. Most of the royal customs are also based on practices found in Sanskrit literature.

The Royal prince must take a bath called "Ganga Snan" before his Sunnat or before ascending the Royal Throne. The Royal throne itself in Bahasa Malaya is called by the Sanskrit name "Simhasana". Most royal and wedding ceremonies are accompanied with feasts taken on banana leaves. Yellow rice is sprinkled on brides or bride grooms or prince as a mark of blessings. Once a leading Malaysian remarked that if anyone watches his wedding video, he might mistake it for a Hindu marriage.

The wives of Malaysian leaders have formed the organization 'Vanitha Pushpavalli' for their social activities. Most Malay government officers wear black caps (as part of their uniform) similar to those worn by the Maharashtrians. Sarong (similar to South Indian Dhoti) and Kurta is still the official dress of Malay ministers in all important ceremonies. Kite flying, gilli danda and playing with dice are some of the traditional games of Malays. "Wayang Kulit" or shadow puppet shows still popular in the eastern state of Kelantan is based on Ramayana and Mahabharata characters.

Malaysia is not the only Muslim country which rejoices in its Sanskrit, Ramayan and Indian ancestry. Brunei and Indonesia have also borrowed most words from Sanskrit. The capital of Brunei is “Bandar Sri Bhagwan” (Port of the Lord) while Singapore is derived from the Sanskrit word “Simha” meaning a lion. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is pronounced in the local language as “Jaya Karta”, the city of victory. Other prominent cities are Prambanan (Park of Brahama), Yogya Karta, Madura, Sumatra, Bali and Surabaya. There is no need to specify that the island Bali is named after the character in Ramayana.

Excerpts from: Ravi Kumar, 2007, Ramayana around the world, a living legend (mss.)

The Sultanate of Kedah was one of the earliest sultanates in Southeast Asia. The 9th ruler of Kedah Phra Ong Mahawangsa, a Hindu Rajah, converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Mudzafar Shah, he ruled the northern region of Malay Peninsula from 1136 to 1179. According to the Kedah Annals, the first Raja of Kedah was Maharaja Derbar Raja.

Around 170 AD a group of Hindu and Malay refugees arrived at Kedah; they were soon followed by peoples from nearby islands and the northern Mon-Khmer region. Kedah covered the areas of Kuala Bahang, Kuala Bara, Kuala Pila and Merpah, and the inhabitants of Kedah appointed Tun Derma Dewa and Tun Perkasa as their village chiefs.
In the year 630 CE, Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gemeron in Persia was defeated in battle and escaped to Ceylon, but was blown off course by a storm and landed on the shores of Kuala Sungai Qilah, Kedah. The inhabitants of Kedah found him to be a valiant and intelligent person, and they made him the king of Kedah. In the year 634 AD, a new kingdom was formed in Kedah. It consisted of Persian royalty and Malay and Hindu peoples. Its capital was Langkasuka.
Situated near Merbok, Kedah, between Gunung Jerai in the north and Muda River in the south, Bujang is the richest archaeological area in Malaysia. “The area consists of ruins that may date more than 1,500 years old. More than fifty ancient tomb temples, called candi, have also been unearthed, many of which were built during the Bujang Valley civilization's heyday. The most impressive and well-preserved of these is located in Pengkalan Bayang Merbok. The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum is also located here.
Research also indicates that an ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom ruled here as early as 300 CE. Relics found at the site are now on display at the archaeological museum. Items include inscribed stone caskets and tablets, metal tools and ornaments, ceramics, pottery, and Hindu icons...Rajendra Chola’s territories ca. 1030 CE. Early contact between the kingdoms of Tamilakam and the Malay peninsula had been very close during the regimes of the Pallava Kings (from the 4th to the 9th Century C.E.) and Chola kings (from the 9th to the 13th Century C.E.). The trade relations the Tamil merchants had with the ports of Malaya led to the emergence of Indianized kingdoms like Kadaram (Old Kedah) and Langkasugam. [International Tamil Language Foundation (2000). The Handbook of Tamil Culture and Heritage. Chicago: International Tamil Language Foundation, p. 877. ] Furthermore, Chola [ king Rajendra Chola I sent an expedition to Kadaram (Sri Vijaya) during the 11th century conquering that country on behalf of one of its rulers who sought his protection and to have established him on the throne. The Cholas had a powerful merchant and naval fleet in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.”
In Kedah an inscription in Sanskrit dated 1086 A.D. has been found. This was left by Kulothunka Cholan I (of the Chola empire, Tamil country).

See: http://vaazkaipayanam.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/lembah-bujang/
ராஜேந்திர சோழன் கண்ட ‘Lembah Bujang’!!!
Ju6e 18, 2007 ஆல் விக்னேஷ்வரன் அடைக்கலம்

(கி.பி 671-ஆம் நூற்றாண்டுகளில் சிரிவிஜயா(SRIVIJAYA) அரசாங்கத்தால் அமைக்கப் பட்ட கட்டிட சுவடுகள் மீண்டும் ராஜேந்திர சோழனால் கி.பி 1030களில் மேம்படுத்தப் பட்டதாக நம்பப் படுகிறது)
என்னடா இது புதுசா விளங்காத வர்த்தைய பேசி குழப்பரானு நினைக்காதிங்க. இந்த வார்த்தை மலேசியர்களுக்கு பழைய வார்த்தையாதான் இருக்கும். ஆமாங்க அது ஒரு மலாய் மொழி வர்த்தையாகும். இந்த வார்த்தைக்குத் தனி அர்த்தங்களை ஆராய்ந்தால் அது தமிழில் வேரு அர்த்தத்தைத் தந்துவிடும்.
நாம் தெரிந்து கொள்ள வேண்டியதெல்லாம் ‘Lembah Bujang’ என்றால் என்ன என்பதுதான். ஆங்கிலத்தில் இவ்விடத்தை ‘Bujang Valley’ என்று அழைக்கிறார்கள். ‘Lembah Bujang’ மலேசியாவில் உள்ள கெடா (ஆட்டுக் கடா இல்லைங்க) மநிலத்தில் அமைந்திருக்கும் சரித்திர புகழ் பெற்ற சுற்றுலா தளமாகும்.
அப்படின இதுக்கு முன்னாடி என்னவ இருந்தது….
கெடா என்ற சொல் கடாரம் என்ற சொல்லின் வழி வந்ததாகும். கடாரம் என்ற தமிழ்ச் சொல் எப்படி வந்தது….. கி.பி 1030-ஆம் ஆண்டுகளில் ராஜேந்திர சோழனின் ஆட்சி காலத்தில் அவர் தென் கிழக்கு ஆசியாவின் மீது படை எடுத்த போது இந்நிலத்திற்கு கடாரம் என்று பெயரிட்டிருக்கிரார். நாளாடைவில் அது கெடா என மாறி அது இப்பொழுது வழக்கத்தில் உள்ளது.
அக்காலத்தில் ராஜேந்திர சோழனால் அமைக்கப் பட்ட வியாபார மையமாகவும், ஆட்சியிடமாகவும் இருந்ததுதான் ‘Lembah Bujang’ ஆகும். இதற்கன சான்றுகள் ‘பட்டிணபாலை’ என்ற தமிழ் கவிதையில் இருந்ததாக ஆராய்ச்சிகள் கூறுகின்றன. அது மட்டுமிற்றி அப்பொழுது வியாபாரத்திற்கு வந்து சென்ற அரபு மற்றும் சீன நூல்களிலும் ‘Lembah Bujang’-கை பற்றி நிறைய தகவல்கள் இருபதாக Braddly மற்றும் Wheatly-யின் ஆராய்சியில் கூறியிருக்கிறார்கள்.
நான் முன்பு கெடா மாநிலத்தில் அமைந்துள்ள வட மலேசிய பல்கலைகழகத்தில் படித்துக் கொண்டிந்த சமயம் ஒரு முறை இங்கு சென்றிருக்கிரேன். (என்ன ஒரு முரைதானா?! என்று ஆச்சர்ய பட வேண்டாங்க, என்னா நான் வசிப்பது பேராக் மாநிலத்தில். சரி சரி வெட்டிக் கதை பேசத விசயத்துக்கு வா…….)
இப்படியாக பல நூறு வருடங்களுக்கு முன் மாபெரும் வியாபார சந்தயாக விளங்கிய அவ்விடம் வெரிச்சோடி கிடந்தது. பள்ளிச் சுற்றுலா என சொல்லிக் கொண்டு ஐந்தாறு பிள்ளைகள் அங்கங்கு சுற்றிக் கொண்டிருந்தார்கள். மலேசிய அரசாங்கத்தால் நல்ல படியாக இதற்கு விளம்பரங்கள் கிடைப்பினும், சுற்றுலா தளமாக கருதி மக்கள் வருகை புரிய ஆர்வம் காட்ட தவரியிரிக்கிறார்கள். இதனை அடுத்து ‘lembah bujang’-கிள் உள்ள தகவல்கள் வெளிநாட்டு சுற்று பயணிகளுக்கு போதிய விளக்கத்தை தர வில்லை என்பதே என் கருத்து.

(’Lembah Bujang’ காட்சியகத்தில் வைக்கப் பட்டிருக்கும் பழங்காள கண்ணாடித் துண்டுகள்- கி.பி 670களில் வியாபாரத்திற்கு பயன்படுத்த பட்டவையென நம்பப்படுகிறது)

(’Lembah Bujang’-கின் கடற்கரையேர அமைப்பு இந்தியா-சீனா கப்பல் வழி வியாபார வசதிக்காக அமைக்கப் பட்டதாக நம்பப் படுகிறது)
வாய்ப்புக் கிடைத்தால் தவராம போய் பாருங்க….. ராஜேந்திர சோழன் காண்ட கடாரத்தை……
கடாரத்தின் சரித்திரத்தை மேழும் ஒரு பதிவில் போடலாம் என்றுள்ளேன். நேரம் ஒதுக்கிப் படித்த அன்பர்களுக்கு மிக்க நன்றி.
Bujang Valley , also known as Lembah Bujang, is a famous historical site in Kedah found in the western part of the serene Sungai Petani Town . This place of interest in Malaysia was the place of a prosperous Hindu-Buddhist civilization dating back to the 5 th century AD. The famous Chinese monk named I-Tsing was here in 671 AD while this rich kingdom was involved in trade with other nations such as Cambodia , India and Srivijaya.

During the 7 th century AD, this tourist attraction was part of the well known Srivijaya empire of Sumatra and reached its architectural peak in the 10 th century AD. Srivijaya and the Lembah Bujang kingdom were attacked by the Cholas of India in 1025 and when the Srivijaya empire was losing its power, the Lembah Bujang kingdom forged an alliance with the Cholas.
Tourists making their trip to this astonishing site will be glad to know that there are more than fifty archaeological sites containing the magnificent ruins of Hindu and Buddhist temples found here which was left deserted with the coming of Islam to the region. The amazing fact is that these temple ruins stretches from Gunung Jerai to all the way to Kuala Muda. British archaeologist Quatrich-Wales was the first person to excavate the ruins in 1936.

The main attraction here is the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum (Muzium Arkeologi) which is located beside the great Bujang River , roughly about two kilometers north of Merbok village. Some of the exhibits seen at this popular museum are pottery shards, ceramics and stoneware dating to almost two thousand years. Other interesting items shown here include Chinese porcelain, gemstones, Indian tridents and beautiful stone carvings but without doubt the most exciting finds here are the temples and among the items obtained from the temples were a fragment of a wall frieze and a statue of the elephant god Ganesh. The partially restored candi (temples) can be seen at the rear section of the museum. Two remarkable sites of six hundred years old chandis were found in 1997 with the one thousand years old Candi Bukit Batu Pahat being the most important whereby the entire complex will become a famous National Historic Park in Malaysia.
(source: http://www.aguidetoasia.com/malaysia/kedah/bujang-valley.php)
See: Maritime Asia http://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com/2006/05/04/maritime-asia/
See : http://www.hindu-tva.com-a.googlepages.com/ramayana.pdf

Reclaiming Mariamman as Durga in Malaysia

Samayapuram Mariamman as Durga

The image of Durga as s'akti with multiple hands adorned with arms is an awe-inspiring metaphor of all times and climes. Malaysia home to this s'akti culture is no exception. The event scheduled with classical dance forms should rekindle that spirit of heritage and provide a renewed metaphor for the curren-day politicos in Malaysia: cherish all that is noble in the heritage. Release Hindraf detenus and call them for a dialogue. Build a new Mariamman, Durga temple in Malaysia grander than the one desecrated and destroyed. That will make every Malay feel proud that his or her identity cannot be separated from this heritage, virasat.


Sunday December 23, 2007
Reclaiming the past

A multicultural production featuring classical dance styles was an attempt to arrest misconceptions.

Asyik ... The Beauty of Classical Dance
Dec 14-16
Aswara Experimental Theatre, KL

ASYIK means to be mesmerised or transfixed in Bahasa Malaysia. It is also a type of Malay royal court dance with mesmerising and hypnotic qualities, which has its roots in palace and temple traditions.

It was an apt title for Asyik ... The Beauty of Classical Dance, a recent production by the Dance Department of the National Academy of Culture, Arts and Heritage (Aswara), which showcased a repertoire of classical styles from the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures through a simple dance drama.

The Asyik is a graceful court dance.

“Reclaiming our past has to begin by first learning about and loving its constituents! Our cultural heritage is resplendent in its grandeur and diversity,” says Joseph Gonzales, who has been the head of department since 1999.

“My dream is to take this production on tour one day. The level of appreciation for classical dance versus pop culture leaves much to be desired. Foreign perception of our dances is still very commercial. I want the world to see the real thing.
“I also want to take this production to other states in Malaysia because I find that each state has very little idea about classical dances other than its own.”

Gonzalez, the artistic director of Asyik, stresses that, “One must eliminate the misconception and fear that culture is about religion. A Chinese dance is not about being Buddhist; a Malay dance is not about being Muslim; nor an Indian dance, about being Hindu. The performers are simply Malaysians, and they are good at dances that are not from their own race!”

Come into my arms: The 1,000 Hands dance was a spectacle to behold. – AZHAR MAHFOF / The Star

In 2000, Asyik was performed by eight students (two borrowed from Aswara’s Theatre Department) and only 17 people turned up for the show. There were so few dancers that only a limited repertoire could be presented – joget, zapin, endang and mengadap rebab (the opening dance of the traditional theatre performance, Mak Yong).

The academy has come a long way since then. This year’s production had 80 dancers, 25 musicians and an audience of 350. The repertoire included Gurindam, Silat Gayong Ota-Ota, Joget Gamelan Topeng, the Chinese court banquet dances Ruanwu (sleeves dance) and Jian Wu (warrior dance), Bharatanatyam, Warrior Silat Dance, Asyik and Terinai.

Gonzales’ idea for the production was borrowed from a bangsawan (Malay opera) tale, which somehow fitted in nicely with this genre and prevented it from looking like a commercial variety show.

The story is about a young prince who hears a melodious voice and is drawn to the magic of the lyrics and the hypnotic quality of the voice. The king summons his soldiers and orders them to find this person for his love-stuck son. The soldiers bring guests from near and far who present themselves to the king and prince with a showcase of their culture and precious gifts. The prince finds his love when a princess sings and dances the Asyik accompanied by maidens from the royal Kelantanese entourage.

For this performance, the talent of choreographers such as Wong Kit Yaw, Umesh Shetty, Vatsala Sivadas, Hajijah Yaacob, Shafirul Azmi Suhaimi, Firdaus Mustapha Kamal and Sharip Zainal Sagkif Shekwere sought to find exciting and fresh ways to present the dances.

Of all the performances, 1,000 Hands drew the most applause. The dancers, decked in resplendent white costumes, emulated the goddess of compassion (with 1,000 hands) in graceful synchronicity and with great aplomb.

Warriors show off their prowess in the Jian Wu.
In the Asyik, dancers, seated most of the time, swayed their upper bodies hypnotically like human pendulums and gazed fixedly at the slight but fluid and continuous movements of their own hands, each dancer very much absorbed in her own world. The bonang (bronze kettle drum) lead stood out as it lent a unique flavour to the music that accompanied the dance.
Overall, the performances served their purpose of educating and entertaining, although with practice, they could be perfected. But if the production manages “to fan the fire of patriotism and pride in being Malaysian” in even a small portion of the population, as is Aswara’s hope, then it would be deemed a success.


Muslim Malay praises Indian hospitality and Hindu tolerance

Muslim Malay Praises Indian Hospitality and Hindu Tolerance


Warm Delhi's hospitality on a cold December day


THE last time we had a family holiday abroad was in December 2004 and we spent it mostly in a little northern town in India.

This year, we are in India again. We are in Delhi where my eldest son has finished serving with the Indian army as an officer, and we are here to meet and thank his senior officers, and his friends both in the army or those who are civilians.

My husband and I felt it was important for us to come here and meet them all, for without their friendship and support, our son's life would have been very lonely and hellish.

Since arriving here in 2003, our son hasn't noticed any perceptible slights or been excluded from social functions and daily activities with the other officers because he's a foreigner and a Muslim.

He's been living in the mainly Hindu-populated cities of Jaipur and Delhi.

Back home, we are comfortable because we live in a country where majority of the population is Muslim.

In India, it is the opposite – the majority of the population is Hindu, with Muslims making up perhaps the second largest group.

And then there are the Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and those of other faiths. What always impressed me most about the Indians is how accepting and tolerant they are of foreign peoples and those who do not share the same Hindu faith as them.

Being in Delhi again is both familiar and bewildering.

It isn't like having a holiday in a Western country where the people are blonde and blue-eyed.

Here, I am aware of being a tourist, not a local, but at the same time I know that we, as Malaysians, share the same Asian cultural values as the Indians. Most of the locals have black hair, and the colour of their skins ranges from light to dark brown.

There are also some very fair–skinned men and women who are of Aryan descent. They have travelled from the north of India to live or work in Delhi.

And, colour of hair or skin aside, the other common denominator is that almost everyone here owns a mobile phone. This also means that I am never out of touch with what is happening at home.

News channels, such as Channel News Asia of Singapore, also give updates of events in Malaysia and around the world.

Once, while stuck in a traffic jam, I multitasked: I was responding to messages from volunteer groups and friends who were updating me about the floods in Johor while listening to the driver who was giving us information about the buildings we were passing by and a sprinkling of historical events.

At the same time, I questioned our friend, Vijay, about current events happening in Delhi. We could see armed and uniformed men on the roads. Were they part of the army, I asked? No, they were the New Delhi police.

The city was also on a high danger alert for possible militant attacks. Thus, there were both police and army presence everywhere, even in hotel lobbies.

I have always admired the physical and mental strength of the Indians, as well as their stubborn optimism in the face of incredible odds: there is apparent poverty here as well as wealth.

I could sense that many changes had taken place in Delhi since my last visit here. There is a lot more construction going on – roads, buildings and public transportation – now than three years ago. And it's mainly because Delhi is getting ready to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

It is getting colder by the day and everyone is wearing thicker woollen clothes.

That's a novelty for us Malaysians who are used to the hot and humid climate at home, so while we are here, we'll try and enjoy the weather.

The thing is that no matter how cold it gets, the warmth of the Indians' welcome, their hospitality and friendliness, are not affected.

The writer is Royal Fellow, Faculty of Language Studies and Linguistics, UKM, and holds an MA (Oxon) in Chinese Studies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Political tsunami by Malaysian Indian voters in next general elections?

Political tsunami by Malaysian Indian voters in next general election?

There is a political awakening akin to a political “uprising” among the Malaysian Indian community, seeking to shake off their long-standing political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization by asserting their political rights as Malaysian citizens.

Can Malaysian Indian voters create a political and electoral tsunami in the next general election expected next March in 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats where they comprise more than 10 per cent of the electorate, or in 21 parliamentary and 73 state assembly seats where they constitute more than 15% of the electorate?

I had said in Ipoh yesterday that there are 62 parliamentary seats and 138 state assembly seats where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and that there are 28 parliamentary and 78 state assembly seats where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the voters where they can play the role of “kingmaker” in the electoral outcome.

These figures are wrong as they were based on the 2004 general election electoral roll. The latest electoral data gives a different picture as there is a reduction of these constituencies – i.e. 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly constituencies where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and 21 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats in Peninsular Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the electorate.

On Thursday night, the MIC President and sole Indian Cabinet Minister for over 28 years, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu did the greatest disservice to the Indian community and Malaysian nation when he appeared on RTM1 programme 60 Minit Bersama Menteri as he continued to mislead the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the country in denying deep-seated, widespread and most legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians at their long-standing marginalization as to become the new underclass in the country.

Let us recognize from the outset that the marginalization and the discontent of the Malaysian Indians is not solely an Indian problem but a Malaysian problem for it represents a Malaysian crisis of identity.

In denying the marginalization of the Indian community, Samy Vellu had again tried to smother the “cry of desperation” of the 30,000 Indians from all over the country who had gathered peacefully in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 25 in support of the Hindraf demonstration and undo the two-hour special meeting between the Prime Minister and Indian NGOs last Friday.

Representatives from Malaysian Hindu Sangam, Malaysian Indian Business Association and Malaysian Indian Youth Council have spoken up loud and clear about the long-standing neglect and discrimination suffered by the Malaysian Indians resulting in their marginalization as the new underclass in Malaysia.

Samy Vellu was present at the dialogue between the Prime Minister and the Indian NGOs although as a silent observer and note-taker. He must make a very bad note-taker for he is singing a completely different tune from what the Indian NGOs have told the Prime Minister in the dialogue.

If Samy Vellu still needs convincing about the legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians about their long-standing marginalization, let me just quote from an independent report, which said:

“Malaysian Indians are increasingly being marginalized, economically as well as socially. More than 30% of Indians do not own a house; over 300,000 Indian poor have been evicted from their plantation livelihoods and residences; and there were 21.1 suicides per 100,000 Indians a year 2005, the highest rate amongst all communities. Indians also have the lowest life expectancy at birth amongst the major races.”

This report came out 18 months ago and was by the Centre for Public Policy Studies of the Asian Leadership and Strategy Institute (ASLI).

Why is Samy Vellu denying the undeniable when he should be in the vanguard to demand and ensure the end of such unjust and unfair marginalization of Malaysian Indians, who are entitled to a rightful and equal place under the Malaysian sun?

Samy Vellu should apologise to the Malaysian Indian community and the Malaysian nation for his hour-long RTM1 interview for giving a completely false picture about the long-standing marginalization of the Malaysian Indians.

The Malaysian Indian community must continue to exert legitimate political pressure on all leaders in the MIC and other Barisan Nasional component parties to end their denial syndrome and own up to the injustices suffered by the Malaysian Indians because of the long-standing marginalization in the Malaysian scheme of things.

Today, Gerakan Youth vice chief S. Paranjothy has stepped forward to speak the truth.

Paranjothy criticized Umno leaders for “inciting racial sentiments among their community in a petty attempt to further their political career”, referring specifically to the keris-wielding by Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the chauvinistic approach of the Umno Youth deputy leader Khairy Jamaluddin when he castigated Indian news vendors for going on a holiday during Deepavali, causing the speech of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Umno President to be blacked out during the press holiday.

In fact, it is Abdullah and UMNO who should be apologizing for holding the Umno general assembly on Deepavali instead of Khairy berating the Indian news vendors for taking their Hindu “Festival of Light” seriously.

Malaysiakini reported Paranjothy as saying that the 30,000 Indians took part in the Hindraf demonstration to express their “frustration and anger” because the community had been “marginalized, oppressed and ignored”.

It has taken Paranjothy one month from the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration on Nov. 25 to find his conscience and voice, but it is better late than never.

When will Samy Vellu and the MIC leaders wake up to the truth and find their conscience and voice?

As Malaysian citizens, Malaysian Indians have the unquestioned democratic and constitutional right to unite and mobilize support for change and justice to end their long-standing marginalization, in particular in a three-point demand:

• Immediate and unconditional release of the Hindraf Five under the Internal Security Act who they should be charged and tried in open court if are guilty of any offences and not put away in detention without trial indefinitely;

• A Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Kampong Medan riot and the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration, particularly over the police mishandling of the gathering; and

• A New Deal which should be adopted by the government to end the marginalization of Malaysian Indians and all other marginalized groups in the country, whether Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) in Sabah, the Ibans, Penans and other minorities in Sarawak, the Orang Asli as well as the marginalized Malays and Chinese.

(Speech at the DAP forum on “ISA arrests of Hindraf 5 – Ops Lalang2 coming?” at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Friday, 21st December 2007 at 10 pm)


Malaysian mainstream press derails legitimate grievances of minorities

Here's is a perceptive report on how Malaysian mainstream press is distorting truth by indulging in suppressio veri and suggestio falsi. The press will do well to remember Lalang I and stand up as the fourth estate guarding protection of human rights in Malaysia. Sure, express contrary opinions, but do not distort reporting on legitimate grievances of Malaysian citizens. If the fence eats away the field, who will guard the crop?


Hindraf rally: Mainstream press spins to dizzying heights
Saturday, 01 December 2007

Very much informed and persuaded by the government’s illiberal stand on citizens’ right to public assembly such as the recent Hindraf and Bersih rallies, the major newspapers, in particular The Star, the New Straits Times and theSun, predictably went to town yesterday with the speech given by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, at the opening of the 160th Perak Malay Customs and Islamic Religious Council conference. Raja Nazrin reportedly called on Malaysians, among other things, to “respect the law and enforcement agencies and be civilised and courteous in their approaches and actions” as well as to reject the “foreign culture of violence”.

Predictably, the NST graced its front-page with a banner headline, “Show respect for the law”; theSun came up with a front-page headline, “Respect law, order: Nazrin”; and The Star placed a relatively smaller headline, “Nazrin: Obey the law” next to its masthead to remind readers that this important story could be found in the inside pages.

Contrast this story to Raja Nazrin’s speech on 28 November, which was carried by the mainstream dailies the following day. This speech, which was delivered at the National Economic Outlook Conference 2008/2009 in Kuala Lumpur, focussed on the important issue of development and nationhood in Malaysia, and it was instead relegated to their inside pages.

Now back to yesterday’s report of Raja Nazrin’s speech. One would think that his speech would have generated interest, concern and discussions. After all, civilised societies cater to discourses of national import. So it will be interesting to see whether these papers will carry the responses of concerned Malaysians. For one thing, there are certain quarters in our society who rightly believe that the Federal Constitution does provide for the citizens’ right to peaceful assembly. Also, they would argue that while laws must be respected, unjust and undemocratic laws should also be questioned conscientiously. As regards the ‘culture of violence’, yes, ordinary citizens should avoid that; but the enforcement agencies should also refrain from resorting to undue force especially when dealing with a crowd that is peaceful in nature.

Hot line, cold story

Apart from Raja Nazrin’s speech, The Star yesterday front-paged a story, headlined “Open lines”, about MIC’s plan to set up a hotline “to handle all problems faced by the Indian community”. The daily also duly reported MIC president Samy Vellu’s response to the question whether this move was a direct response to the Hindraf protest: “MIC always submitted a report to the Prime Minister every six months.”

The paper could have asked a subsequent question such as: is Samy trying to push the buck to the Prime Minister by implying that no action has been taken regarding problems of the Indian community even though periodic reports had been submitted to Abdullah? Surely the Hindraf group in particular and the Indian community as a whole would not have wasted their precious time on staging a public rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur if their legitimate grievances had indeed been taken care of?
Whatever the case may be, this report is an indirect admission that the Hindraf rally had some effect on the government and that something is indeed amiss in the Indian community.

What choice?

Then there was the report in The Star, headlined “IGP: We gave them choices”, which told the reader of IGP Musa Hassan’s rather belated revelation that: “Organisers of the recent illegal gatherings were offered stadiums and other alternative venues to hold peaceful demonstrations but they rejected them.” Were the Hindraf organisers given these options? We wouldn’t know, would we - because the paper didn’t bother to ask the organisers for verification and clarification.

Below this report is one titled “Gerakan: Differing opinions allowed” about Gerakan president Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s response to Penang (Gerakan) state executive councillor Dr Toh Kin Woon’s principled stand on the Hindraf issue and his disagreement with the BN leadership’s position on the rally. Koh dismissed Toh’s comment as “merely expressing his personal views”. Wouldn’t the People’s Paper be interested to know from Toh himself what he felt about Koh’s swift assertion? After all, the former actually wrote a strongly worded letter about this issue which was published in Malaysiakini?

The blame game

In another page of the same newspaper, another report headlined, “Hisham: Don’t blame the Indians”, recorded what Umno Youth leader Hishamuddin Hussein had said about the Hindraf incident. He reportedly urged the people “not to blame the Indian community for the illegal gathering organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) last Sunday”. The report however was not specific about who had actually put the “blame” on "the Indian community", which then begs the question whether Hishamuddin was indirectly or otherwise trying to pit the Hindraf organisers against the “Indian community”. Would the Hindraf folk be given their right of reply by the said daily?

The Queen... and breaking ranks

As if all this isn’t enough, in the same report, readers were informed by none other than (mis)Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin that “several groups of students” he met in Cairo were angry “over the Hindraf leaders’ move to ask Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to intervene in Malaysia’s internal affars”. This is one way to create an impression that "the majority" are very much against the Hindraf rally.
In the last page of the Hindraf-related issue, the daily carried a report, headlined “Hindraf applies to have rally ban order set aside”. Essentially, this report reported the Hindraf leaders as asking the High Court to rescind the 22 November order, which barred them from holding the 25 November rally.

On the same day, the NST carried in the inside pages headlines such as “Hishammuddin: No need to get emotional over Hindraf”; “PM open to MIC proposals”; “Toh didn’t break ranks with BN, says Koh”; and “Hindraf rally: Six more charged”.

And is if not to be outdone by its competitors, the NST also carried a column (“Off to London to see the queen”) by its writer Rehman Rashid in his rambling about the Hindraf move to send a petition to Queen Elizabeth II. In a sense, the writer was trying to trivialise the Hindraf’s objective, but given the long and winding way it’s written one is made to wonder whether he himself would be granted Her Majesty's audience at all.

Derailing grievances

Last, but not least, another commentary titled “When personal agendas can derail everything” by seasoned NST columnist Hardev Kaur put the blame on “some Malaysians”, presumably the Hindraf people, for having destroyed the “image, reputation and credibility of the nation” by resorting to “unlawful means to promote their own individual agendas when there are official, peaceful and civilised channels available”.

Strangely, she didn’t find it disgraceful and unjust that the legitimate grievances of the country’s minorities have not been properly addressed. And she didn’t think that this gross negligence would mar the international image of our country. Did she really think that the country’s leadership had been accountable to ordinary citizens, particularly the marginalised and the poor? Is it so unpatriotic to speak truth to power?