I was in full support of the Bersih rally. However, I am unable to support the Hindraf rally because I am in the dark as to its objectives. I find media reporting extremely deceiving. The participants in the Hindraf rally may have been Hindus but they were also from the lower-income brackets of the Malaysian population. Thus, was the common thread religion, race or socioe-conomic factors? Were they protesting because they were Hindus or because they were poor? Poverty transcends the borders of race, religion and sex.
So, what exactly is Hindraf demonstrating against? In order to reduce poverty in Malaysia, we must target specific groups that are known to be poor such the handicapped, the sick, the uneducated, the illiterate, the mentally ill, the elderly, alcoholics, the homeless, ex-convicts, drug addicts, prostitutes and so forth.
You do not provide aid based on a person's ethnicity. All ethnic groups have their rich and poor. How does one reduce poverty and make the lives of the poor more bearable? The key is providing affordable education, healthcare, housing and financial assistance to target groups such as the ones I listed above.
In Malaysia and in most Asian countries, governments tend to place the burden of helping the less unfortunate on family members of those needing help. Our Asian leaders pride themselves on the Asian traditions of family values such as caring for your elders and for older siblings to financially help their younger brothers and sisters. In Asian culture, when a young adult leaves school and seeks employment, he would look up his aunties and uncles for help.
However, these values are fast eroding. Malaysia is getting more Westernised. Thus government policies must change. Don't expect the unemployed and the sick to turn to their families for help because they may find their relatives less accommodating as we Asians are experiencing a shift in our cultural norms.
Hindraf is right about the growing poverty in Malaysia. However, they should not see themselves as the marginalised or oppressed minority because there are poor people everywhere.