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EDITS | Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Email | Print |

Malaysia strips Hindus of rights

Sandhya Jain

Afourth generation descendant of Tamil indentured labour, P Uthayakumar, HINDRAF legal adviser and secretary-general, Human Rights Party of Malaysia, has returned from New Delhi’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas jamboree to face trial for ‘sedition’, a charge made by the ruling United Malay National Organisation regime.

Advocates Uthayakumar and M Manoharan spent 514 days in Kamunting Jail under the draconian Internal Security Act for leading the spectacular one-lakh-strong HINDRAF rally of 2008, which demanded equal citizenship rights for Malaysian Hindus and opposed the ethnic cleansing of Tamil Hindus in that Islamic country. If convicted, the duo could face a three-year prison term, a real possibility given the nature of the Malaysian judiciary and the studied indifference of the token creamy layer of establishment Hindus.

The Hindu organisation has been banned since, though it poses no threat to Malaysian social or political stability. As India’s human rights ‘industry’ only serves Western geo-political interests, it cannot be expected to speak up for suffering Malay Hindus. Hence New Delhi should take up the matter with Kuala Lumpur and urge it to permit HINDRAF to work as a non-governmental minorities and human rights organisation.

Sadly, the HINDRAF leaders who came here to present the Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2009, Malaysia Truly Racist, received only a perfunctory hearing by official New Delhi.

The HINDRAF & HRP leaders urged Foreign Minister SM Krishna to diplomatically espouse the cause of the Indian minority which the Malaysian Government is subjecting to systemic racist, religious extremist, and supremist policies that keep 70 per cent of Indians desperately poor and outside the national mainstream development. As Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is coming to India with a trade mission on January 19, a firm word from New Delhi could have a timely impact.

Mr Uthayakumar laments that Indians are denied equality and equal opportunities in direct contravention of Articles 8 and 12 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution, created by the founding fathers. Today, the state has denied birth certificates and citizenship documents to nearly 300,000 minority Indians; hence they cannot secure admission to kindergarten and primary schools, deserving students are denied places in elite schools and institutions of higher learning, loans and scholarships, and licences to do trades and related occupations.

He informed the Foreign Minister that Hindu temples, schools, burial grounds, or settlements are regularly demolished or relocated arbitrarily; poor and landless Indians excluded from agricultural land schemes; Indians denied top jobs in Government, corporate and business sectors.

So horrendous is the discrimination that Indians are arrested without cause and released only when no charges can be framed against them; over 90 per cent deaths in police custody are of Hindus. Every week, 1.3 persons on average are shot by the police; 95 per cent are Hindus. A staggering 70 per cent of Indian Malaysians have been reduced to hardcore poor, poor or working class, with 90 per cent being in the daily or monthly wage-earning category. As the racism and religious persecution is all state-sponsored — ordinary Hindus have no problems with ordinary Malay Muslims — there is a strong case for the Government of India to take up the human rights violations and religious freedoms of these besieged Hindus.

One of the worst problems is forced conversions to Islam, which has become particularly acute since 2001, despite the provision for freedom of religion entrenched in Article 11 in the Malaysian Constitution. A recent case that has shaken the country involves a 27-year-old Tamil Hindu, Bangaramma, who was converted as a minor in a Government orphanage and registered as a Muslim without her knowledge. She continued to regard herself as a Hindu, worshipping and marrying a Hindu in a temple, according to Vedic rites.

Bangaramma is now fighting for her religious freedom in order to live as a Hindu with her Hindu husband and two children, as the Government is refusing to register her marriage and to acknowledge her husband as father of her children. Worse, she is being threatened with the charge of apostasy, which in Islamic Malaysia means she can be forcibly separated from her husband and children (aged two and seven). It is obvious that the whole controversy is aimed at forcing the entire family to accept Islam.

Another acute problem is the deliberate attempt to reduce the number of Hindu professionals in the country. At independence, innumerable top Government jobs were held by education Hindus, but gradually Hindus are being frustrated in their quest for higher education. Some of the reputed, and relatively cheaper, medical institutions in Russia, China and East Asia have been de-recognised by the Government so that Hindus cannot practice medicine when they return to the country. The number of medical seats for Hindus was reduced from 16 to one in 2004 (out of 2,000).

Students also need a Government no-objection certificate to study overseas, and this is another obstacle. Leaders of HINDRAF have urged the Government of India to stop offering medical seats to Malaysia on a Government-to-Government basis, and to grant the seats directly to Malaysian Indian students alone. This is a legitimate request, and the task can be easily executed via the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. India could also consider scholarships for Malaysian Indian students wishing to pursue other professional courses such as pharmacy, IT, and such.

More direct pressure can be exerted by sourcing India’s imports of palm oil from Indonesia instead of Malaysia; curbing further Indian investments and discouraging Indian IT professionals from working in Malaysia; and, choosing to work with Malaysian corporations with a decent Indian Malaysian equity participation or employment of Indian Malaysians, especially at the top level.

Meanwhile, the BJP has a long way to go in its quest to rediscover traditional political values. Mr Uthayakumar unhappily observed that New Delhi only cares for the rich diaspora, from whom it solicits investments. Thus, it came as no surprise to learn that while the savvy Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi assured HINDRAF he was aware of the plight of poor and working class Malaysian Indians and would champion their cause in India and with Kuala Lumpur, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Ms Sushma Swaraj, expressed astonishment at their plight, though HINDRAF had come to India with a human rights violations report in 2008 as well.

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Bullet Malaysia strips Hindus of rights
By Muralitharan Ramachandran on 1/22/2010 12:32:20 PM

Well... As a Malaysian Indian I do hope India will interfere and come up with a good solution as for our ancestor's do come from there... if we cant complain to MOTHER INDIA where do we go?

Bullet Our country en
By Kumar Shah on 1/20/2010 6:25:13 AM

I do hope our govt knows that all staying in Hindustan are Hindus and that this is not a religious divide. Wake up politicians and speak for your country men.

Bullet Malaysia strips Hindus of rights
By Gopal on 1/19/2010 10:11:54 PM

Most of Malaysian Hindus are Tamils. What is the so-called protector of Tamils Interest Mr.Karunanidhi doing? We have seen his heroism in "defence" of tamils in Sri-Lanka and its time to see his heroism in action now! Or like most Tamilnadu filmi politicians, are these guys heroes only on screen?

And talking about muslims, its difficult for a Hindu to match up to the high levels of hatred and vindictiveness which Muslims practice against Hindus.

Bullet Hindus in this world
By arish sahani on 1/19/2010 9:03:09 PM

In each country we have party to support a particular cause. India was formed to seprate Hindus and muslims Muslims got 30 % for 20 % population land 80 % Hindus got nothing due to congress party leadership looks like they were Hindus by name but inside were Muslim . WE Need real new party bas einIndia to take care of Majority Hindus or India will be history.

Bullet Malaysia Strips Hindus Rights
By NATHAN BAHIRATHAN on 1/19/2010 8:30:43 PM

It does not matter what other countries do to Hindus, but the Prime Minister
Manmohan will be un happy and agitated if Indian Muslims face any problems in
a foreign land. India will award contracts to Malaysian companies. Yes India is a
secular country and it does not not matter what happens to Hindus in India or a foreign land.

Bullet Malaysia Economy in Problem.
By Ramesh on 1/19/2010 8:18:49 PM

Malaysia, SL, Nepal, all these states are under influence of CHINA and Pakistan as support country for cheap goods in tough economic times. WAIT FOR 10 YEARS and THE CHINEESE WILL RUIN THESE COUNTRIES FOREVER. As long as hindus are there in malaysia, there is little huminity, secular world. Once the Hindu factor vanishes, the country will march to "Terror STATE".

Bullet Hindus attacked for celebrating Sankranthi in TN
By Ramkumar on 1/19/2010 6:40:05 PM

Recently i read a news that Hindus in a tamilnadu village were attacked by Christians (majority in that village) who wnated to prevent the hindus from celebrating the festival. And there was not even a murmur among secularists on this incident and Pew research wont consider this for their study on religious freedom.

Bullet Hmm....
By Ramesh on 1/19/2010 5:13:06 PM

Try as they may, the Malaysian Hindus cannot expect much from India. BJP is totally out of gear! In the "secular" world, "Hindu" is a bad word. Only scope would have been DMK, but they have been demoralized by their recent electoral performance, Congress has succeeded in minimizing DMK influence and role in UPA. Indian English media is staunchly "SECULAR" and will publish only such news that is expected/read/appreciated by western/westernized audience.

Bullet Eventhough Malaysia is among secular country of the world.
By JayKumar on 1/19/2010 5:03:29 PM

Just if some one speak or write about Hindutva or Hinduism then they are known as pseudo-secular by the world community.

I remember someone wrote about HINDRAF and condition of Tamil's in Malaysia on Modii's blog from Tamil Nadu and he even urged to take up this issue during this event. It got addressed during this event by Modi. But what Tamils know it in India that it was addressed non other than by Modi whom they criticize most of the time. I think still this issue needs to be addressed.

Bullet Wake up people !!
By B Shah on 1/19/2010 4:01:08 PM

When will our government wake up to the plight of Indians, and Hindus in particular, around the world ? Fiji, Malaysia, all the Gulf countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, parts of Africa, Russia even Australia discriminates against us. Yet our government sits silent over our plight. If a single muslim is hurt though, the PM himself looses sleep ! What sort of imbalance is this ? When will Indians wake up to the plight of fellow Indians, Hindus in particular, and lobby their for their own.

Bullet Hindus can never expect suipport from Indian Secularists !!!
By ksv subramanian on 1/19/2010 3:02:31 PM

UPA and other Indian Secularists will never take up the cause of suffering hindus in any country let alone Malaysia. In India secularism takes a new connotation. Compare this with the hue and cry many Christian countries made at the Orissa happenings and the reaction of our government.

Bullet Desi leadership is busy in other stuff of importance to them
By Rahul on 1/19/2010 1:51:37 PM

India has sufficient leverage to encourage the Malaysian government to give equal rights to all its citizens. Unfortunately the powers controlling India probably couldn't care less for people who can neither provide some benefit nor are in a position to encourage them to do their duties. Therefore people of Malaysia have to get in such high positions themselves that their voice on equal rights resonates loud and clear in the ears of the Malaysian government.

Bullet Plight of Indian Muslim
By Indian Muslim on 1/19/2010 12:12:40 PM

Ms. Sandya Jain, I appreciate your complaining about the status of Malaysian Hindus. While on this, we should add the Plight of Indian Muslims, who unlike Indian Hindus who went to Malaysia as farm labourers, Indian Muslims who are sons of the soil, who rule India for more than 800 years now suffering in the clutches of Hindu (Not secular) Government. Even the name of the Govt. change from BJP or Congress or something else, the Govt. is 100 % pro-Hinduvata terrorism (same as Islamic terroism).

Bullet As You Sow So Shall You Reap
By Amar on 1/19/2010 9:36:59 AM

Malasiya is a hub for black money and it's very much favourite for financial frauds, and should be asked why they they let Quatrochi go and how black money pours in Hindustani stock market. will the government come out of their mindset and tell us why Hindustaani public is earning money for swiss banks?

Bullet hindus
By ram on 1/19/2010 9:02:57 AM

Hindus have lost many rights everywhere for being hindus& indian in origin.The so-called champions of democracy,the west treats hindus from democratic India with disdain & contempt.If you are a Christian or Muslim you rise much higher in US than if you are a Hindu.But who cares for coolies & thier corrupt netas?

Bullet Hindus in Malaysia
By Shubhang Pandya on 1/19/2010 7:49:32 AM

Hindus in all Muslim majority countires are suffering discremination Pak, Bangla Desh, Malaysis, Indonesia, middle East, Africa). The 'secular' government of India is conveniently ignoring this. RSS abd BJP have ignored this, too busy as they are surviving against the lables of 'Hindu Fundamentalists'. The Pravasi Bhartiya Tamasha is merely an industry to keep some minister employed.

Bullet No better
By Ganesh on 1/19/2010 1:04:44 AM

The Malaysian Hindus can take comfort from the fact that the ground situation in the Hindu homeland is no better. Very soon majority from India will join their ranks and will march towards extinction in unison. There is a saying, which goes 'dont lick the lips of the one who himself licks the garbage.'

Bullet Malaysia strips Hindus of rights
By Anil on 1/19/2010 12:30:44 AM

"Rising India" trying portray itself as super citizen of the world. It's aims will be derailed if it raises its voice (if it has one, in the first place) on this and since it is about Hindu (which itself a non secular word), it will only invite trouble for India. Even a petty Indian leader knows best thing to do is keep quite!

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