It is so heart-wrenching to watch Sugentha Subramaniam’s interview carried on Human Rights Party Malaysia website today. The tears swelling in her mum’s eyes and the pain of discrimination on her face was not unnoticed! Yes! It is that time around again, when we get to hear all the heart breaking stories of Indian students being denied scholarships and university places despite the fact that they are equally bright or far brighter than their Malay counterparts!
Year in year out, for the past twenty years or so, it is the same story! It is an annual phenomenon for the Indian students. Deserving Indian students are denied their rightful places in the local universities. Nevertheless, ironically, Malaysian public universities are offering thousands of places to foreign students from Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bosnia, Africa and many other Islamic countries. Many of these students are here on some Islamic scholarships, grants and fellowship awards offered by Malaysian government! Subsequently, there are many Muslim lecturers from around the world in the Malaysian public universities whose places were robbed off the Indians, pushed to the private educational institutions! Where do the Indian students stand in their own soil? What is MIC doing, what is PKR, DAP and PAS doing, GOD knows! I have no words to console Sugentha and many other such bright and deserving Indian students whom have been denied their rightful places in the higher learning institutions in Malaysia.
Who will not be in tears and pain over such blatant educational discrimination in a country that has flourished in every direction possible, except racial equality! No study will be able to examine all the nuances of racial discrimination taking place in the Malaysian education system. Discrimination in education is so blatant on the Indians! From Tamil schools being denied lands to transform them into fully-aided government schools, to denial of university places for the bright Indian students, name it, all forms of educational discrimination is there for them!
Education is one of the many important civil rights issues affecting the Malaysian Indians today! Racial discrimination in education arises from actions of institutions or individual state actors, their attitudes and ideologies, or processes that systematically treat students from different racial/ethnic groups disparately or inequitably.
The effect is detrimental to the lives of the victims as one can imagine! Access to good education is the key to good jobs, quality housing, healthy life and political influence. Such discriminatory policies in education will limit or bock all opportunities for intellectual growth among Indians in all fields! The UMNO-led BN government has very systematically, and very deliberately, written and implemented educational policies to massacre the bright Indian community from flourishing, to subsequently end up as factory workers and private company clerks with yet another form of blatant discrimination to prosper and grow! They will be completely wiped out from the mainstream development in this country in no time soon!
Zafiris Tzannatos (2009) in his journal, “Reverse racial discrimination in higher education in Malaysia: Has it reduced the inequality and what cost to the poor?” reported that in the last twenty years, economic and social policy in Malaysia has been dominated by discrimination in favour of the Bumiputras and against the Chinese and the Indians. The preferential treatment of the Bumiputras is pursued in association with other objectives. In no other area of public policy has reverse discrimination been more acute than in higher education. His paper shows that past and present educational policies in Malaysia have resulted in allocation inefficiency. The prime beneficiaries of such policies have been better-off Bumiputras!
That’s right! The better-off Bumiputras, UMNO Bumiputras precisey!
By definition and purpose, education is the development of human capital towards meeting the individual and social needs of learners and their societies (Apple, Michael W., 2009). Sugentha and many other such bright Indian students with straight As could have well been the most precious human capitals for this country they call home! Alas! Higher education has now become limited to the fiscally advantage portion of the society, the better-off UMNOputras and financially sound Chinese, certainly not poverty stricken Indians! Hence, an Indian student like Sugentha can only dream of becoming a doctor!
The importance of education is clear to people from all over the world. And most certainly, the UMNOputras know the value of good education! Thus, they have hijacked most of the universities’ and other higher learning institutions’ places for mostly Malay-Muslims only! They know, if they allow too many Indians to graduate as doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, chemists, scientists, accountants, etc…..they will become too smart to control! It is better to keep them stupid in cow-shade like Tamil schools and block all opportunities for their further education, including derecognising the universities where they are furthering their (medical) studies and denials of loans for courses famous among Indian students!
Education is an essential human right and every child in the world is entitled to it, EXCEPT Indian children in Malaysia. UNICEF strongly believes that education, like all human rights, is universal and inalienable—everyone, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or economic status, is entitled to it. It is critical to our development as individuals and as societies, and it helps pave the way to a successful and productive future. Education enhances lives. It ends generational cycles of poverty and disease and provides a foundation for sustainable development. A quality education better equips girls and boys with the knowledge and skills necessary to adopt healthy lifestyles, and take an active role in social, economic and political decision-making as they transition to adolescence and adulthood. In addition, a rights-based approach to education can address some of societies’ deeply rooted inequalities. These inequalities condemn millions of children, to a life without quality education – and, therefore, to a life of missed opportunities.
Indians in this country must wake-up! Wake-up to the reality that good education is not free for their children in this country anymore! They face a very powerful and pernicious discrimination in all areas of education. In Tamil schools, they struggle to get chairs and tables from their own pockets for their children to sit and study, as the UMNO government or MIC, DAP, PAS or PKR couldn’t care less! What more to say on the pathetic land for Tamil schools issue. In secondary, their children need to battle all sorts of racism, from being called ‘Keling / black’ to being slapped or head shaved for some petty offences! Then, if at all they didn’t drop out and pull through, higher education, especially, good courses like medicine, engineering, pharmacy, accounting, teaching, computer studies, English courses, etc. will be just a dream! They can only make it a reality if and only if, they have good bank-balance to finance their children’s education or some properties to sell or mortgage in the bank! Good education is not free for the Indian children, the most disadvantaged, excluded and vulnerable, in this country!
To realise the educational benefits, and to bring about essential structural changes that are necessary to achieve social justice and equal education for the Indian children, Indians must get together and make HRP’s Indian Political Empowerment Strategy a reality! There is no other political party or NGO or social movement that looks into the nuances and nitty-gritty of the educational discrimination on Indians in Malaysia and offers a solution to it as HRP/Hindraf do!
Yes, the ONE and ONLY solution to all these acute discriminations practised by the UMNO-led government is Indian Political Empowerment Strategy! Empower your own selves and elect Indian lawmakers on Indian majority votes and send them to parliament to fight for your rights, failing which, you can kick them off the next time around! Absolutely practical strategy and you, the vast majority Indians, whom the ‘masters’ ought to duly serve, will have the power in your hands, as per the Indian Political Empowerment Strategy! You vote for your own selves!
Education is our unalienable right and we do not need to beg the authorities to give it to us! Nor is it begging to demand our birth rights! Only some so called ‘elite group fools’ will question us on why we are begging the government to help us instead of us helping ourselves by tapping the financial resources readily available from the ‘rich Indians’ whom we have never heard of. Why are they not coming forward to help students like Seguntha? What are they waiting for? Where are they? Who are they?
The truth is UMNO or MIC or DAP, PKR or PAS politicians or any other rich Indians will never care two hoots about the poor and downtrodden Indians nor will they make any effort to amicably solve the critical Indian issues to compensate for the past and present injustices towards Indians!
We have to empower ourselves and pursue our happiness on our own! We do not want any more Seguntha stories! Let this be the last! It is only possible with the Indian Political Empowerment Strategy!