The objective of Nov 25 rally, as claimed by Hindraf, was to hand over a memorandum to the British High Commission. But from opinions expressed in the aftermath of the protest, it seems that the rally was to highlight the socioeconomic plight faced by a sector of the Tamil population.
When you speak to some of those who attended the rally, they seem to be under the impression that the lawyers in England wanted to see large support before they would take up their case. So what was the objective of the rally? Was it to hand the memorandum, to highlight the socioeconomic conditions or to convince the lawyers in England?
Given this confusion and Hindraf's provocative tenor at its roadshows and in its memorandum, I think we ought to be wary of them. At one of the roadshows, they circulated a letter to the prime minister where they made the astonishing claim that "via our hundreds of letters and memorandums to your good self over the last few years we have repeatedly highlighted an average of one Hindu temple being demolished in every three weeks in Malaysia."
Also circulated at this road show was their memorandum to the government claiming the following:
2. And whereas
The overwhelming of the 131 written memoranda submitted to the Reid Commission as evidenced by the declassified documents from the Public Records Office, Kew, United Kingdom, which represented the will and wishes of the then Malayan population were primarily equality and equal opportunities, etc, for all Malayans irrespective of race or religion as follows:
- In the grant of state land;
- Admission to public and administrative service;
- To trade and do business, licences, permits etc;
- Primary, secondary, skills training, university and overseas university education;
- No special privileges for the Malays;
- No discrimination of any ethnic community based on race or religion;
- The retention of all their places of worship in particular Hindu temples, crematoriums and burial sites;
- Freedom of religion;
- Malaya is to be a secular state and not an Islamic state;
- Right to mother-tongue education in particular Tamil schools to be fully aided;
- Minimum wage for the lowest paid, and
- Equal recognition as sons of soil for all Malayan born.
3. And whereas
Based on the aforesaid proposals the Malaysian Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of Malaysia as drawn out by the Reid Commission in 1957 was passed by the inaugural Malayan Parliament and which formed the basis of independent Malaysia.
4. And whereas
Over the last 50 years since independence on the 31st day of August 1957, the United Malays Organisation (Umno) controlled Malaysian government with their majoritarian might, and backed by police, Attorney General's Chambers, judiciary, civil service and the media continuously violated the Federal Constitution by their racist and Islamic extremist policies and which in effect have created an apartheid system ala Malaysia and especially resulting in the degeneration of at least 70% of the ethnic minority Indians to become the underclass of Malaysia who end up in the poor and hardcore poor category.
I shall leave it to the constitutional law experts to comment on Hindraf's interpretation of the constitution, but any fair-minded Malaysian would see how inflammatory their comments are on the socio-political condition. Their roadshows conveyed all this to the simple lay Tamils and I wonder what these people really understood.
There is no denying that there are marginalised Tamils in our midst just as there are those from other races. I do not think anyone is doing a service to them by taking them on a merry-go-round. Please articulate their situation accurately, candidly and honestly rather than use them as fodder in your pursuits.