Opinion

The Indian problem and the rabbit hole of M’sian politics

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“Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it's someone else's witch being hunted.”

- Walter Kirn

A few readers have emailed me asking why I do not write about the “Indian problem” any more. Indian related questions include; (a) do I support P Uthayakumar and of course (b) Indians would be better off supporting the opposition, like the Chinese. This last part is not so much a question but rather a preamble to an overt discussion about the benefits of supporting the opposition using the Indian issue as an enticement of sorts.

I get these sorts of email all the time and have probably written about them over the years. Let me be very clear. Nobody, certainly not most politicians - establishment and opposition - and most definitely a large segment of opposition supporters, cares about the plight of disenfranchised Indians in this country.

This is not to say that certain Indian opposition politicians have not attempted to address certain issues - statelessness, for example - and attempted to navigate the extremely tricky terrain of oppositional racial politics, but rather any "issues" that do not have mainstream appeal with regards to the current Malay-Sino dialectic gets very little attention.

Rest assured that nobody would be interested in this article. Talking about the Indian issue is an invitation to dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of Malaysian politics. It is a place where the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid means never talking about race even though racial politics fuels the rhetoric and policies of the opposition. It is a wonderland of 1Malaysia where the social contract is used as a sword against egalitarian values and an example of harmonious mutual co-existence.

Do I still support former Hindraf leader Uthayakumar? I never stopped supporting him even when I was disagreeing with him. I am planning a series of interviews with Uthayakumar soon and some readers may be interested in discovering what he has to say about the current political scene in Malaysia now.

While I have been at times preoccupied with the Indian issue, the reality is that the issue is far more complicated than what opposition and establishment types would like us to believe. When I have written about the Indian issue, I have made it clear that I am talking about a specific demographic of the Indian community.

While some have no qualms about self-identifying as “Indian”, many take exception at being lumped in with the general “Indian” community preferring to self-identify along cultural and language lines. I suppose it is part pride and part escaping the homogeneity imposed by the state but whatever the reason, solidarity has always been a problem for the Indian community.

My own thoughts on the plight of the Indian community is scattered through many articles but what got Hindraf’s and Uthayakumar’s hackles raised was my piece ‘The slaying of our sacred cows’ four years ago. Choice bits include this - "It is ironic since this Western-educated section of the Indian electorate who for so long felt alienated from the political process now feels estrangement from the general Indian population because of the rhetoric of P Uthayakumar, which vacillates from sublime race-baiting to the downright bizarre.

“The fact that the movement is a hodge-podge of Indian intellectuals and working-class foot soldiers is a reminder of the class divisions which is endemic in the Indian community. What is it with Indians and blame shifting?”...

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