Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Armchair critics of Hindraf should get their facts right

Easy for armchair critics to bash Hindraf
Not So Stupid | Feb 19, 08 3:26pm

This is my response to Marc Lourdes, who wrote a commentary in the New Sunday Times on Feb 17.

Dear Marc,

I read your comment with disgust. You ended your piece with the word 'Stupid'. Let me start my letter with the same word.

Stupid! Yes, you and the rest of the Indian Malaysians have been in this category for the past 50 years. Subservient, timid, gullible, and the whole works. You may be right that the number of Indian lawyers and doctors form around 20 percent of the total number. But who are you to flaunt this figure and be proud about it? Did you in any way contribute towards this figure? Most of the Indian professionals in Malaysia did not get to where they are today because of the government. We hardly receive any aid from the government be it in any form whether they are scholarships, business licenses, bank loans, job opportunities, promotions in the civil sector, business contracts or whatsoever. The number of Indians who receive these aids is certainly limited.

It is ridiculous to say that the Hindraf lawyers received the opportunities to be lawyers. Do you know if they were fully sponsored by the government? Were they given allowances during their stay overseas like some privileged ethnic group? Where they given a place at the local university on a silver platter?

It is certainly easy to be an armchair critic. Sitting in air-conditioned comfort, you will not understand the struggle of the average, lower-level Indian (or for that matter anyone). Have you ever seen how the bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak lives just on a meager wage and income? How would you feel if your loved ones are tortured under police custody, asked to perform most outrageous acts or their bodies snatched upon death to be buried as a Muslim? We are fine ones to comment and critise the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison. No shame.

Can you tell me out of the thousands of national schools in Malaysia, how many have non-Malay principles? How many GLC companies have non-Malay directors and staff at their top management level? How many universities have non-Malay vice-chancellors, deans or heads of departments? How many hospitals have non-Malay directors and heads of departments? How many ministries have non-Malay secretaries-general and staff at the top management level? The list can just go on and on. But one last question – how many schools have non-Malay head prefects? Even at the lowest level, opportunities are not given to the non-Malays. Is the answer to this is as simple as 'No qualified personnel among non-Malays?' Ask yourself and do some soul searching. If you are still lost, I am equally lost for words.

Ten members of parliament from the Indian community, you say. Who are they and what have they contributed to the community? Most of them are thugs who fill up their own coffers. One minister even called a woman MP for a fight. Aren't you ashamed of them? The Indian community will be better off without them.

To your question 'Which Hindraf supporter would represent the Indians in parliament or government' - do you sincerely think Thaipusam was declared a public holiday because of MIC's struggle? All of a sudden, we see mushrooming of government committees to look into the issues that have been plaguing the Indian community. No one can be a bigger fool than a person who thinks MIC is behind this sudden concern over the Indian community.

Before you go on to criticise the Hindraf leaders, ask yourself what have you contributed towards your community or Malaysia. Have you spent a single ringgit to sponsor the education of any underprivileged student? Have you spent your free time to teach at an orphanage or at any of the rural areas? Have you attended to someone without a birth certificate, donated to your church for the poor or advised children of illiterate parents on education options or job opportunities? Well, it is certainly easy to be an armchair critic.

The Hindraf leaders have finally managed to wake the Indian up from his long slumber. If you can't help the community to move forward, do not push them backwards please.

You say Hindraf leader, P Waythamoorthy was in London while his supporters had to face the police. Did you sincerely think Waythamoorthy is in one the five-star hotels in London, having good time attending parties and sightseeing? Not only he is sacrificing his valuable family time but also his income for this noble struggle. The same goes for all the other Hindraf leaders who are detained in Kamunting now. These are the lawyers who have put their struggle for the Indian community above anything else. These are the same people who have taken up several legal cases to seek justice for the Indians without expecting anything in return. These are the people who used their bare hands to stop bulldozers from crushing Hindu deity statues.

They are the heroes. Are you eyeing for a seat on the MIC platform through your articles? Good luck, you fit the MIC bill well. Birds of the same feather flock together. But if you wish to wake up and see the truth, check the statistics. They will tell you the true Indian position in this country and all the opportunities ('ethic-cleansing' acts) that have been 'bestowed' upon them.

COMMENT: Led astray by Hindraf leaders
By : Marc Lourdes


GIVEN that Malaysia is a country of more than 60 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups, with a people who practise all the great religions of the world, its celebration of 50 years of independence in 2007 is something that we all can be proud of.

There have been times when one ethnic group or another has felt marginalised or left out of the economic mainstream; just like today, there are Malaysian Indians who feel disenfranchised.

But like the other ethnic groups, there are many Indians who have done very well and made it to the top rungs of their profession or in business: like Brickfields' T. Ananda Krishnan, shipping tycoon Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam and the aviation industry's Datuk Tony Fernandes.

Indians form seven per cent of the population but the number of Indian lawyers and doctors make up almost 20 per cent of the total in the country.

However, that doesn't detract from the fact that many Indian youth, deprived of job and educational opportunities because of poverty or other reasons, are either unemployable, unemployed or have resorted to crime.

Alcoholism and domestic violence are probably highest among the Indians.

As much as they may want to blame the government for their plight, the community cannot absolve itself of blame.

We may all not have done enough but still, no Malaysian, whatever ethnicity, can say that the last 50 years have been one of systematic abuse, ethnic cleansing, prejudice and oppression.

It may have taken a longer time to solve some problems faced by a particular community; it may have been too little to start with for others.

But to manipulate a people and convince them that they have been deliberately disenfranchised and marginalised is probably the most abhorrent thing any right-thinking person can do in multiracial, multi-religious Malaysia.

And it is even more abhorrent and abominable if those manipulating the masses are those who have, despite the persecution they claim, received the opportunities that allowed them to become lawyers.

The provocateurs of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) would certainly not win any prizes for standing up for the community. If they have done anything at all, it is to manipulate their community, disgrace their country, and tell such vile lies that even the most cynical of Malaysians would never believe.

Ethnic cleansing of the Indians; systematic killing of Indians by police they claimed. And when that failed, they said they did not rule out violence like in Sri Lanka. And these are the same people who carried photos of Mahatma Gandhi, claiming peaceful disobedience.

Had they just focused on the genuine grouses and general unhappiness -- and there are many -- among the poor Malaysian Indians, they would have done a great service.

But no. Yesterday, just like the first big rally they organised in November, the Hindraf leaders and organisers showed themselves to be what they really are: making themselves dubious heroes of the community by manipulating innocent people.

They claimed they were going to hand over roses to the prime minister but they disobeyed the law and marched.

They said they would bring children and women to the rally. What really happened? There were no roses, hardly any children.

And the organiser, P. Waytha Moorthy, was in London while the supporters faced off with the police.

Waytha Moorthy, his brother Uthayakumar and the four other Hindraf leaders now detained under the Internal Security Act, did the same during the November rally.

They hid in air-conditioned comfort while thousands marched the streets defying police and taking the brunt of the water cannons and tear gas. They only came out when the protest was almost at its end and tried to claim glory.


What kind of heroes are they? Instead of uniting the Indians, they further divide them by separating Hindu from non-Hindu Indians. Christian Indians, Muslim Indians, Sikhs, Sindhis, Buddhists -- are they not good enough for the Hindraf leaders?

Have they helped the Indians at all? Even the media in India, to which these Hindraf leaders went running to seek sympathy against their own country, said these leaders had done more damage to the Malaysian Indian cause than help.

The fact is that there are 10 members of parliament from the Indian community -- nine from the Malaysian Indian Congress and one from the People's Progressive Party.

But in none of those parliamentary constituencies do Indian voters represent more than a quarter of the electorate. In fact, in seven of these constituencies, the Indian electorate accounts for only between 11 and 19 per cent of the voters.

In six constituencies, Malays form the majority and in four, the Chinese are slightly higher than the Malays.

So, if Indian votes were the criterion to win, would any Indian be able to be a member of parliament?

But what does Hindraf really want the Indians to do? Vote against all these Indian MPs from the government party, they said, purportedly to enhance the "Indian cause" as espoused in their rally yesterday.

What if the Chinese decided to place a Chinese candidate in the four Chinese majority seats and Malays in the other six? Which Hindraf supporter would represent the Indians in parliament or government? Stupid.

Could such an unlikely scenario take place?

Stranger things have happened.

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