KUALA LUMPUR: Indigenous delegates from Sabah and Sarawak attending the National Human Rights Conference on the Future of Marginalised and Minority Communities in Malaysia were stunned when told of the conditions of the majority of Indians in Peninsular Malaysia.
Reacting to a paper presented by Hindraf national coordinator, W Sambulingam, one delegate from Sabah who declined to be named, told FMT: “I almost forget about my our own crippling conditions in Sabah.”
In his presentation, Sambulingam had described in detail, along with facts and figures, the striking conditions of the Indians in Malaysia.
He revealed that so depressed were their lives that suicide rates among the Indians were the highest at 21.1 suicides in every 100,000 Indians.
He also said that more than 30% of Indians do not own a house, compared to 25% Malays and 18% Chinese.
“Because of extremely depressed conditions, the suicide rate among Indians is also very high, that is 21.1 suicides in every 100,000 Indians, compared to 8.6 per 100,000 Chinese and 2.6 per 100,000 Malays.
“There are many Indians who live in destitution in urban squatter colonies. There are thousands of stateless Indian children and adults. We have a very low performance in life due to the systematic denial of opportunities in the areas of education, employment and business,” he said.
Indian youths in crime
But most worrying, he pointed out, was the fact that 40% of the Indian youths are involved in crime and more than 60% of inmates in detentions camps are Indians.
In addition, more than 95% of police custodial deaths are also Indians, he said.
“This is a burgeoning problem… Indians today are stereotyped and vulnerable to be linked to crimes. They are being relegated to all the low end jobs in society, very small involvement in development programmes in the country.
“Complete landlessness is overwhelming the community. The entire Tamil School primary system needs to be revamped. Land for Tamil schools, Hindu temples, and burial grounds need to be addressed but who is listening to our plight?” he asked.
He said the government must provide equal opportunities based on merit and reaffirm Article 153 and Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that guarantees equal rights for all.
Among those in attendance at the one-day conference here were Kita party pesident, Zaid Ibrahim, CigMa chief Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, well known Sabah social activist Patrick Sindu, and scores of social justice advocates. Also attending were 200 participants from various communities.