I write in response to the vigorous denials by ruling politicians and some Malaysiakini readers towards Hindraf’s claims of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Societies do not leap from being non-discriminatory and egalitarian to the outright killing and extermination of ethnic minorities overnight. It is an evolutionary process that starts in small steps.
The initial phase is usually innocuous. It starts off with seemingly "noble" intentions including positive discrimination in favour of the group in power on various justifications such as socio-economic restructuring. However, the rule of unintended consequences usually means that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Once the perpetrators are allowed to get away with the initial measures, they can take it to the next level, including:
1. Restrictions on educational, employment and business opportunities for minority groups
2. Restrictions on language, cultural and religious freedoms on minority groups (including restrictions on the building of places of worship and recent calls to remove crosses from Christian schools by a local politician pandering to his religious constituency)
3. Encouraging the migration or destruction of the intelligentsia, including independent media, who are usually the first to oppose such policies
4. Ethnic or race tagging when dealing with government agencies for example, the insistence that citizens must declare their race in government forms and policies
In more advanced phases of this virulent condition, symptoms can include:
1. Ethnic or religious profiling in law enforcement
2. Complete domination of the government civil service and armed forces by the dominant power’s group, beyond its population proportions in the general community
3. The creation of underclasses and ‘ghetto-ed’ minorities
4. Outright religious persecution
5. Forced religious conversions
6. Vilification and demonisation of ethnic and religious minorities
7. The destruction of minority groups’ places of worship
8. Destruction of minority groups’ businesses
The Hitler- or Balkan-style "final solution" of outright killing and ethnic extermination usually takes years if not decades to happen. Ethnic cleansing does not require conscious planning by its perpetrators. The baser human tendency to divide our world view into "us" and "them" is enough to do the job. All it needs are populist or demagogue politicians who appeal to our false sense of racial patriotism (such as keris-waving politicians) and superiority.
Many ordinary German survivors of the Second World War struggled to come to terms with how they were foolishly-led by the Nazi regime into perpetrating some of the worst crimes against their fellow citizens. The ordinary German citizenry certainly did not start the 1930s with the outright ambition to rid the world of inferior races including Gypsies, same-sex couples and Jews. But by the end of 1945, over 20 million people perished as a result of the war, of which six to eight million were victims of race-hatred killings).
Yes, there is no ethnic cleansing of the Indian community in the sense of a "final solution" where outright killing occurs, as some of Malaysiakini readers have correctly pointed out.
However, no one rules out that the current and previous administrations’ policies, unwittingly or not, can become precursors to more advanced phases of ethnic cleansing. In fact, the political power base of the past and present administrations are based on the toxic twin ideologies of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and Islam ideology. It is extremely unlikely that the present administration can undo any of these policies without undermining its very own political power.
Hence, it is understandable why Hindraf has made these "outrageous" claims. When the final solution arrives, it is too late. Just ask the surviving African Sudanese refugees in Darfur or the Tibetan exiles today. It is too late to ask the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis who were killed in the Rwandan genocide, and the Bosnian and Croats killed in the Balkan wars. It is certainly too late to ask the millions of Jews, Gypsies and other minority groups killed by the Nazis in the Second World War.