Friday, October 17, 2008

Banning Hindraf unwise

Understand not punish Hindraf

It is deeply regrettable that the Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) has been declared illegal by the government. Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has been misled into believing that Hindraf is an extremist religious organisation and its actions if left unchecked would pose a threat to public order, the security and sovereignty of the country as well as the prevailing racial harmony. According to him Hindraf incites hatred towards the Malays, which is a very serious allegation which itself is a greater threat to the security of the nation. If that is true why are PAS and PKR supportive of Hindraf?

Syed Alba must be naïve to believe that there is genuine racial harmony in the country. Absence of riots does not mean race relations are excellent. Even the PM has reiterated recently that our race relations have deteriorated to such an extent that it has become a serious concern for all. The ordinary man on the street will agree that our race relations are far from ideal. In fact it has been fast deteriorating over the years.

The main reason for the worsening inter-racial and inter-religious goodwill is due to lackadaisical attitude of the government towards promoting racial unity and its inaction to check real extremist groups who incite racial hatred for those of other ethnic groups. If only the government was impartial in checking these extremist tendencies fairly without bias, we would not be in the state we are in today.If only the government and the MIC had acted with the interest of all Malaysians and the Indians in particular in mind,Hindraf would not exist today.

Hindraf was born as a result of years of frustration resulting from negligence and marginalisation of the Indian community which the government denies till today. Although its name connotes it is a Hindu organisation but in actual fact it represents the sentiments of all the Indians, whose socio-economic status is very deplorable and far below par. In fact Hindraf has become a household name among the marginalised groups of all the races in the country, a name that stands for the fight against injustice, poverty and abuse of power. Its battle cry “makkal sakthi”, which simply means people’s power, became a rallying call for unity and change by all races in the Opposition during the last general elections.

The Hindraf uprising that ended with the November 25 rally last year become the eye-opener for the poor and marginalised from all communities including the Malays. It helped to ignite the spirit for reformation, democratisation and eradication of race-based policies among Malaysians. It might have been a cry for help by the impoverished and desperate Malaysian Indians but today Makkal Sakthi represents the call by all for a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth and greater opportunities for jobs and education.

Unfortunately instead of heeding their pleas and engaging in dialogue to understand and solve their problems, the government and even the MIC reacted with hostility.Hindraf was considered a extremist group trying to create chaos and racial riots in the country. It was accused of having links with foreign terrorist groups and therefore castigated. Instead of looking at the merits of their grouses, they were seen as threats to national security. How can a minority group that comprise about 8% of the population with no economic or political clout be a significant threat to the security of the nation?

Will punitive measures and banning of Hindraf stop the spirit of its Hindraf’s struggle? It is not the struggle of a few leaders detained under the ISA but that of the whole Indian community that is plagued with severe socio-economic problems; poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, gangsterism, poor living conditions and a high crime rate.

History has shown that repressive legislation and punitive actions can never permanently quell the anger and uprising of any community that is disadvantaged and marginalised. You can persecute their leaders with imprisonment, torture and even death but you can never kill the spirit in them. In fact these high-handed measures will only encourage them fight on with greater zeal and vigour.

What is needed is not confrontation but sympathy and dialogue to solve the problems of a disadvantaged community that is crying out for help. After more than 50 years of self rule and in a country bestowed with abundant natural resources there is no reason for any group to be in a state of hard core poverty, without a decent job,shelter,education and food.

The government must lift the ban on Hindraf and engage them in meaningful dialogue to overcome the various problems facing the Indian community, instead of punishing them for voicing out their problems that are genuine. In fact it should act likewise to all groups who are frustrated by unfair policies of the government.

There is a need to re-look at where we have gone wrong and formulate and implement policies to help all those in need regardless of race. If any one community, however small, is left behind everybody will suffer in the long run. For lasting peace and harmony every citizen regardless of ethnicity,social status and political ideology must be made to feel proud of being a Malaysian.

Dr.Chris Anthony


balan said...

Not sure if this ban make sense as HINDRAF is not a legal organisation in the first place.

As a moderate Indian Malaysian, I don’t agree or support HINDRAF (maybe one of the few Indian who do not support HINDRAF in Malaysia).

No, I’m not a BN Supporter. How many have actually read their memorandum, speeches or attended their gatherings?

The approach, writing and rhetorics incites hatred towards others. They are another organisation hiding behind race, religion, temples and schools. Most of their arguements are flimsy and does not make much sense.

For alternative views on HINDRAF, from a Indian Malaysian point of view, , please visit (AUg/Sept/Oct Archive) Your coments are welcome

justice forsaken said...

An interesting piece to ponder about. You are right hindraf is only asking help for marginalised indians. Any fair government will sit with them and discuss the root cause and tackle the issues. Why is the government doesnt hear the cry of the marginalised indians?I was told islam is a forgiving and just religion but our government are they????

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