I read news about the massive protest by Malaysian Indians (Pix source: The Straits Times. You can see more pix at Screenshots) in Kuala Lumpur with a tinge of sadness.
I feel sad that many Indians feel marginalised over the years in their country of birth due to socio-political reasons, one of which is the Bumiputra policy that has been favouring the Malays since the 1970s.
Their unhappiness over a litany of issues, including the recent demolition of a temple in the state of Selangor, erupted over the weekend.
Reports said Malaysian riot police fought running battles with more than 5,000 Hindu protesters gathered at various places for the banned rally in the Malaysian capital yesterday.
ST reported that many held posters of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and waved identity cards and Malaysian flags to show they were also Malaysians, as they demanded equal rights.
The report said the gathering was organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force, ostensibly in support of a suit it filed against Britain in August claiming US$4 trillion for the suffering of Indians, whose ancestors were taken to Malaysia by the British as indentured labourers 150 years ago.
Another report cited the organisers as claiming that more than 100,000 members of the ethnic Indian community had signed a petition, addressed to the Queen, asking for help to end racial discrimination under Malaysian law.
Apart from feeling sorry for their plight, I feel sad that some Malaysian Indians made such a ridiculous appeal and claim against the former colonial master.
Yes, the British brought Indians and Chinese to Malaya then. But Malaya, like many other former colonies, has since gained independence. The country has had 50 years -- read half a century -- of rapid economic development, albeit several dark chapters of its history.
The answer is not to make the ridiculous appeal to the Queen or the huge monetary claim, which is equivalent to nearly one-third the value of the US economy today!
Instead, the Indian community should work within the system to improve it instead of blaming the former colonial master. At the same time, the Malaysian government, which is led by Umno and other members of the National Front coalition, must not ignore the grievances of the Indian community or any other marginalised communities anymore.
All parties must work together to help improve the system, and show that Malaysians can run the country well, long after the departure of the British.
Postscript: I have just read the petition by the Hindu Rights Action Force and am totally disgusted with the complete misrepresentation of the situation in Malaysia. The petition even resorted to describing Indians as being "persecuted by government backed Islamic extremist violent armed terrorist" and even suggested "ethnic cleansing" in Malaysia. The petition is even more ridiculous than what I have imagined earlier! Gandhi would not have condoned such an act!!!