Dear Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi,
A day after the Hindraf rally, newspapers all over the world splashed pictures of a group of Malaysian "demonstrators" being sprayed by police water cannons. I read it with concern that Malaysian authorities are coming down hard on innocent people whose only guilt was being Indian, walking in groups and chanting words that might not have been pleasant to our ears.
If this group only wanted to hand in their "papers" to the British High Commission on a Sunday, I don't see anything wrong with that. Freedom of speech and assembly is a fundamental component to democracy. If your government will not allow our people to exercise their rights then the people will not have an avenue to voice their concerns and highlight issues.
Worse still, you silence them because they are not represented in Parliament. Democracy is about the representation of the majority and if the minority is not represented, other avenues to voice their needs and rights must be established. In Western democracies, the mainstream media are normally free and fair and these can be the avenue for minorities.
Unfortunately, in Malaysia your ruling parties and cliques has a stranglehold on the mainstream media with strict instructions to only disseminate government propaganda. Your government has also controlled entries into the media industry via licencing and draconian laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act. These days savvy Malaysian can turn to online media like Malaysiakini, Harakah Daily as well as enthusiastic bloggers instead of government-controlled media.
Prime Minister, Hindraf may be racist in its make up and serves only the interest of Hindus. But you have to let them voice their concerns and opinions. Suing the Queen of England and the British government for neglecting the Indians in Malaysia may not make sense, particularly when the culprit who marginalised them for the past 50 years is the Malaysian government itself. But we must let them, if we want to boast that Malaysia is a free country.
There has been two huge gatherings this month. None of them intended to be a demonstration. If your government had let them do what they wanted to do - let Bersih hand in its petition to the Agong and allow Hindraf to submit theirs to British High Commission - the current consternation would not have arisen and your ruling coalition would not be under siege.
Prime Minister, it is time to do something before things slide from bad to worse. If I were you, I would announce the election date sooner rather than later. Let Malaysians concentrate their energy in the elections rather than on demonstrations.
Maybe it would be wise if your coalition deliberately loses this election. I believe Malaysians yearn for a change.