All the Indians want is the right to life but the prime minister is not listening to their pleas.
Indians in the underclass in particular are not asking for the sun, the moon and the stars for themselves from the powers-that-be. All that they are asking for is the right to life as guaranteed by Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.
In return, as simple logic dictates, the ruling party can hope for their continued support instead of driving them into open rebellion.
Nowhere is “denial of the right to life” best illustrated than by the fact that Indian applicants find it extremely difficult to secure even cendol licences, to cite one simple example, from the local authorities.
These officials are evidently so mean that they prefer to give out cendol licences to Indonesian applicants, Johnny-come-latelys, rather than approve one for an Indian applicant whose ancestors probably came to this country some 2,000 years ago to set up the first Hindu kingdoms in Kedah, Perak and Malacca.
Again, cendol licences are just one example of how mean the local authorities are to the Indian community.
Human Rights Party (HRP) protem secretary-general P Uthayakumar has in fact compiled a list of the various ways and areas where the authorities are denying the Indian community the opportunities to venture into self-employment and small businesses.
The local authorities in the towns and cities appear to be the main, but not the sole, culprits.
The meanness, reflected in institutionalised discrimination and police brutality, is the breeding ground for Indian gangsters in the country, not Tamil films as cited by Bukit Aman. Anyone who points the finger at Tamil films, or Hindi and other Indian films for that matter, has not been watching these films of late.
The highest ambition of an underclass Indian is not to be a gangster in preparation for a career in politics and related occupations.
Not every underclass Indian can be a doctor, lawyer or engineer either or has a strong academic foundation to do so even if there’s no shortage of the grey matter.
It’s not in the Indian psyche either to aspire to be a white-collar criminal. Indians, being by nature religious, swear by karma.
Still, there’s a limit to meekly accepting one’s lot in life even among the underclass.
Again, Indians in the urban and suburban areas, especially those displaced from the great estates dotting the length and breath of the country, don’t want the authorities to squat on them when it comes to venturing into petty trade, hawking and various small businesses or driving taxis, vans and lorries and the like.
Unfortunately, the truth is stranger than the fiction, as evident in Uthayakumar’s listing.
Ignoring the stark reality before his eyes, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak generally continues to talk down to the Indian community. He has yet to accept that there’s nothing free in this world.
He has his eye on the Indian voters who decide the fate of 67 parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia but, at the same time, refuses to extend his “Let’s make a deal. You help me, I help you” Sibu Formula to them, that is, “GuaTolongLu, Lu Tolong Gua”.
MIC leaders, long divorced from the underclass, maintain a discreet silence, thinking more of themselves and where they can next secure a grass-cutting contract from the authorities so that their wives can probably deck themselves out in even more gold from hand to foot to impress the neighbours, if not keep up with the Joneses.
Najib’s talking down to the Indians includes promising them millions on paper for their schools, temples and associations. None of these pledges have materialised so far. He should be billed at least for the giant garlands that they naively continue to buy for him and his wife, Rosmah Mansor. Once, the Hindus even installed a huge cut-out of Najib which dwarfed Lord Murugan at Batu Caves but to no avail. The Indians continue to be left empty-handed.
Apparently, Najib has decided that the best way to deal with the Indians is to continue hoodwinking them. At the same time, he has the cheek to accuse the national opposition alliance of being full of hot air and indulging in nothing more than mere lies.
Is this Najib’s way of winning the nambikei (trust) of the Indian community and ignoring, in the process, their plea for urimei (rights)?
No one should have to beg for his or her rights in this country. Everyone including foreigners, whether legal or otherwise, has rights.
The key to the ruling Umno winning the nambikei of the Indians is to recognise their urimei, beginning with the underclass Indians.
For starters, Najib should cut out the bull and ensure that the Federal Ministry of Local Government and Housing direct local authorities in Peninsular Malaysia to eliminate all forms of discrimination, overt and covert, against Indians.
That would immediately help create a situation whereby Indians, in particular the underclass, can start at the very bottom, if necessary, in self-employment and business and work their way up, even to the top. The nation as a whole can only benefit in this way.
If the stumbling blocks placed by the powers-that-be against the Indian community are not removed, they will continue to be relegated to doing the most dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs (3D) which would otherwise go abegging in the country. The lot of the Indian community should not be confined to doing just the 3D when such jobs in any country, especially a middle income one, are generally carried out by foreign labour that come and go.
Already, the 450,000 stateless Indians estimated by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and HRP to be in the country, lie at the bottom of the dung heap, condemned to the 3D job sector forever.
Hopefully, the resolution of the personal documentation of the stateless throughout Malaysia is work in progress, as publicly pledged by the National Registration Department (NRD) on numerous occasions.
The stateless continue to live in fear in a legal twilight zone, virtually in hiding, and it’s for the NRD to reach out to these unfortunate people who are plagued by ignorance and illiteracy as well. It’s not the done thing for the NRD, from time to time, to deny that the problem exists or to imply that if it indeed does, it could not be that big or serious.
The acquisition of technical skills is another area where Indians, especially the underclass, needs the government to adopt more inclusive policies.
At present, the Indians are being pawned off by cosmetics and tokenism unless the government can produce figures to prove that it is sincere in not denying the Indians their rightful place in the sun.
It’s doubtful that even one Indian has been sent to Japan for technical training under the government’s Look East policy. This omission continues to be reflected at home as well although to a lesser extent.
If a start can be made with the underclass, other Indians will be convinced that the government will say what it means and will mean what it says when it comes to their lot in life.
The problems are myriad – 101 Indian issues as identified by Hindraf-HRF – and, put in a nutshell, in the form of 18 Points.
Both organisations have been making an annual pilgrimage to the Prime Minister’s Department with a memorandum on the 18 Points but to no avail so far. This year, they did not only satisfy themselves with another copy of the memorandum for the prime minister in late March but also presented one to the King on Feb 14, Valentine’s Day.
If the 18-Point memorandum is not worthy of consideration by the government, what else is there for Najib to talk about with the Indian community? He should not continue to waste his time trying to cajole, persuade and woo them in the manner that MIC has been doing on Umno’s behalf until 2008.
If the unregistered status of HRP and Hindraf is a problem, it’s within the government’s power to recognise these bodies once and for all instead of sending them racing to the court to seek judicial reviews and the like.