Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Oppression in Malaysia is a wake-up call to Hindus

January 06, 2008
A wake-up call to Hindus
Oppression in Malaysia
By Prakash Singh, IPS (Retd)
In Malaysia, persons of Indian origin—Hindus, to be precise—have been economically marginalised. They are mostly at the bottom of the ladder. Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution provides special privileges for Malayans only. Politically, they hardly count. They wanted to organise a rally to ventilate their grievances, but were denied permission by the police.
More than two years back, in an article entitled ‘Is Hinduism in Retreat?’, I had defined a Hindu as “basically non-aggressive, not deeply concerned about his places of worship being defiled or even demolished, is not particularly offended by others making fun of his gods and goddesses, does not object to other religions’ preachers converting his flock, and is not greatly exercised over the abduction and molestation of his women and daughters”.

As the years roll by, I am increasingly convinced about the correctness of the definition. If at all any change has to be made, probably the words “non-aggressive” should be replaced by “coward”. It is indeed mortifying that the average Hindu has today lost all pride in his religion and is apologetic about his identity. His religiosity is limited to paying obeisance in the temple and observing meaningless rituals. The objective is essentially to seek forgiveness for the sins committed and blessings for the unfulfilled materialistic desires.

In Malaysia, persons of Indian origin - Hindus, to be precise - have been economically marginalised. They are mostly at the bottom of the ladder. Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution provides special privileges for Malayans only. Politically, they hardly count. They wanted to organise a rally to ventilate their grievances, but were denied permission by the police. On November 25, 2007, when nearly 20,000 people gathered near the Petronas Twin Towers, carrying portraits of Mahatma Gandhi to highlight the non-violent nature of their protest, the police cracked down on them using tear gas and water cannons. Leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were arrested. Five of them have been detained under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.

In religious matters, the Indians are subjected to discrimination of the worst kind, thanks to Malaysia gradually leaning towards Wahabi-style of Islam. Temples are demolished now and then. What is worse, in many cases, the devotees were not even allowed to retrieve the images of the deities which were also smashed. It is estimated that more than 150 temples have been razed to the ground so far. The destruction of a non-descript shrine in Ayodhya led to tremors all over the country and even outside but the destruction of more than 150 temples in Malaysia has created hardly a ripple in the country.

The government, after showing some concern in the initial stages, washed its hands off after the Malaysian government took the stand that it was their internal matter. Suppressing an ethnic minority’s religious freedom cannot be justified under any circumstances. Human rights have universal application. The Malaysian government’s charge that the persons of Indian origin have their links with LTTE is preposterous on the face of it. P Uthayakumar, founder member of the Hindraf, has stoutly denied the same. “We have got zero links with terrorism. We have got zero links with LTTE. We do not support violence. We are a non-violent group”, he said.

There is no point in expecting much from the government which is always obsessed by political considerations. National interests or national pride do not mean much to them. But what has been the response from other significant groups? The BJP’s reaction has been muted. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has kept quiet. Organisations like Bajrang Dal, which are prompt to take up frivolous matters, have not cared to raise their little finger. The Shankaracharyas appear to be in a trance. Religious leaders, who take pride in flaunting their international linkages, have not spoken a word.

The middle class of India, which is basking in the sunshine of economic growth will continue visiting Malaysia for a holiday bash. And the media will have no compunctions in publishing advertisements promoting tourism to Malaysia. The Human Rights groups in the country, which could have raised the issue at international fora, have preferred to turn the blind eye to the developments in the neighbourhood.

Ironically, there have been voices of protests in UK and in USA. In UK, nineteen Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, have urged upon the British government to take up the matter with the Malaysian government in the strongest possible manner. “This House notes with great concern the stated intention of the Government of Malaysia to demolish 79 Hindu temples”, the motion moved by them said. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged President Bush to take up the matter with Kuala Lumpur and “insist that immediate measures be taken to protect sacred sites and prevent further destruction”.

What do you expect under these circumstances? Indians, particularly their majority community, can just be kicked around in any part of the world. The great actors of this ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ are busy enjoying the good things of life. They have no time to think about pride or self-respect.

1 comment:

DIASPORA said...

Malaysia has had international fame for being one of the strongest and ardent critics on Palestine and Kosovo and many years past on Apartheid in South Africa. Today it is doing exactly what it opposed.

Malaysians feel confused how our Leaders will defend the sanctity of the Constitution in overseas and international Forums in the light of recent happenings and the refusal to get rid of the ISA - a protection mechanism for the powers ruling the country and the Police for cases that they are not efficient enough to handle - and particularly so after making great efforts to make the ASEAN HUMAN RIGHTS CHARTER become accepted by the Union of Nations.

The whole thing reeks of political duplicity by the Leaders of Asean to dupe their populace and apparently seems to stem from their fervent desire to be in power till the end of eternity.

Oppression in whatever form is a crime in the eyes of God if not in the eyes of Man. To oppress and cause hurt to a fellow human being is not in keeping with the tenets of any religion or concept. To oppress people and live on their sufferings without the least element of shame is something that the rest of the world should see to understand what 'Hypocrisy' is all about.

To add to the OPPRESSION - the nation of Malaysia has a law or scheme which requires all non Malay firms or businesses to give 30 % of their equity in those businesses to the malays FREE OF CHARGE and at the same time employ at least 30% Malays in the work force thus, in the final analysis, ruining the business and the founders of the business. Companies and businesses which are 100% Malay owned need NOT give any percentage of their Equity to other race groups or EMPLOY ANY NON MALAY.

Could this not be the cause for the breeding of organisations like HINDRAF and such like.

Many othe countries are also confronted by such ethnic problems. The prayer of all Malaysians irrespective of race, religion or caste is to get rid of this form of ethnic profiling and do what God brought us unto this world to do with COMPASSION and LOVE with MALICE TOWARDS NONE and CHARITY TOWARDS ALL.