Even primary school students are aware that food, clothing and shelter are very basic necessities to human life.
But despite Hindraf’s SOS appeal letter dated June 10, 2015 to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and copied to the Pakatan Rakyat top leaders for the Segambut Estate Indian poor homes not to be demolished, within days on June 19, 2015, escorted by the full might of the police force, FRU, court bailiffs and gangsters, the rich and powerful developer’s machines literally bulldozed the last of the 27 houses therein.
Five villagers were arrested, some injured and scores including children, senior citizens, men and women were humiliated while protecting their homes.
How can the government allow development without first resolving this very basic necessity, the shelter issue for these settlers who have now not only been made homeless but have been reduced to living on the streets in canopies and within a ‘stone’s throw’ of what was once the world’s tallest Twin Towers, symbol of Malaysian prosperity. Is it not their role to provide adequate housing for the poor? Is it right to put profits before people?
The irony is that the landowner of six years crushed this 100-year-old historical village with such ease and breeze because the courts decided in favour of the developers as they were granted the land titles by the Umno government, but delivering the ‘death sentence’ on this vulnerable community who have been denied equal opportunities nor had any political clout. The sad reality is that might is right, as in the law of the jungle.
The British colonial masters brought in indentured Indian labourers to clear jungles and plant rubber with their ‘bare hands’ and contributing to rubber being 68 percent of Malaysia’s income upon independence in 1957 (tin contributing 30 percent - NST April 15, 2012 at page 6).
Acknowledging this historical fact the Tun Razak House Ownership Policy (1973) for estate workers was announced, but which as usual was not or hardly implemented also by successive federal and state governments. Hundreds of thousands of estate villages and settlements and their extended families involving about one million Indian poor have been denied land titles, arbitrarily deemed squatters, evicted and victimised.
Most disturbingly this is continuing on a day-to-day basis with impunity, with the latest victims being the Segambut Estate working class. As a result, today about 99 percent of the Indian poor do not have permanent villages unlike almost all other Malaysians and even foreign workers to act as their social safety net.
But rightly, the historical 610 Chinese New Villages remain intact. So do the tens of thousands of Malay, Kadazan, Iban and Orang Asli villages and ancestral land. Despite fifty-eight years of independence, why this level of racism and racial victimisation targeting the Indian poor on even the very basic need and necessity to even a roof over their heads?
All of this surely cannot be the 1Malaysia very much touted by the prime minister.
Low or no political mileage
Unlike in the western civil societies, as this vulnerable Indian poor tiny minority may draw low or no political mileage, they appear not to matter to both sides of the political spectrum, NGOs and civil society. Thus their current critical predicament today.
Almost immediately upon my release from Kajang Prison last year I had urged the Indian community to turn to PKR, DAP and PAS top leaders as some 80 percent of the Indian voters had voted for them in the 13th general election.
In furtherance thereto, we hereby appeal to Opposition Leader YB Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, YAB Lim Guan Eng and YB Hadi Awang to urgently on Monday June 29, 2015 file and debate a joint emergency motion in Parliament on the aforesaid non-implementation of the Tun Razak House Ownership Policy (1973) for estate workers, its repercussions today, in particular on the Indian poor being serious victims of racially discriminatory federal and state government policies, poverty, inequality, disproportionate crime rate, etc and the need and necessity for these injustices to be undone, also in Selangor and Penang.
P UTHAYAKUMAR is de facto leader, Hindraf.