Sandhya Jain 07 Jan 2011
Indians are generally recognized as a vibrant and successful community wherever they migrate, and even the poor indentured labour of the colonial era managed to elevate itself to positions of status and wealth in countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Africa, and the Caribbean nations, through sheer dint of hard work and education. In independent India, the educated middle class opted to send its children to the west in search of better professional opportunities, and Indians in general made a mark in the professions there as well, though of late racism is again becoming overt in these countries, as witnessed by the ugly Indian-bashing in Australia.
Islamic Malaysia, however, has been less than fair to its Indian-origin citizens, and even after being embedded in that soil for up to five generations, Malaysian Indians are tormented in various ways by an overtly racist and religious extremist Government. Malaysian Indians are routinely robbed of their fundamental rights and denied equal opportunities in every facet of life.
The current ruling coalition, dominated by the United Malay National Organization party, by explicit State policies excludes the vast majority of Malaysian Indians from the national mainstream, violating Articles 8 and 12 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution. The result is that as much as 70% of Indian Malaysians have been made to be and/or remain hardcore poor, with 90% being in daily or monthly wage-earners only. This poverty is caused by exclusion from proper basic life facilities, from education at all levels, from economic, social and cultural development programs, from equal opportunities in employment, and so on.
This is further catalyzed by a system called Mandorism. It involves the cooption by the ruling elite (UMNO at Federal level and Pakatan at State level) of a small layer of successful Indian Malaysian entrepreneurs, professionals and politicians to subjugate the rest of the Indian Malaysian community. This encourages human rights activists from other groups to ignore the horrendous abuse of human rights of Indians under their very nose.
To begin with, the government’s decision to outlaw Hindraf, a Minorities and Human Rights movement championing the poor and marginalized Indians, in October 2008, has not been rescinded. Malaysia is the current current Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Malay Muslim Supremacy Agenda
Malaysia’s racist system is perpetuated is through the Administration which is effectively manned by Malays, the majority of whom are members or supporters of UMNO. It is akin to the discredited Apartheid of South Africa which once had a 500,000-strong all white administration! For example, as the largest employer in the nation, the government has 1.2 million employees. Excluding teachers of Chinese and Tamil, over 95% employees would be Malays. The administration is indoctrinated with Malay supremacist ideology by an indoctrination arm – the Biro Tata Negara. It ensures the blocking of non-Malay Indians and promotion of Malays. UMNO-controlled Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia, continuously spouts racist distortions of events, and influences social polarization.
Discrimination is rampant. Instances of racism include:
- Rejecting applications for entitlements on petty grounds
- Blocking information on entitlements from eligible Indians
- Making it difficult for poor Indian Malaysian to register as citizens
- Ensuring that lower level policies are in line with the overall racist bent of higher-level policies
- Ensuring statistics of disbursements or acceptance or selections are not known to non-Malay Indians
- Ensuring interpretation of policies is such as to disfavour Indians, and
- Making procedures for various applications in respect to Government unduly complicated for Indians.
Worse, steps are being taken to deepen the Malay-Muslim Supremacy agenda by tampering with the education system again, this time in the SPM examinations where a candidate now must get a credit in History for a First grade in the SPM and a pass in history for a pass in SPM.
Extra-Judicial killings and Police abuse
Indians are the main victims of police shootings and custody deaths in Malaysia, and the racial profiling of Indian Diaspora and steady increase in crime rate reflects the corruption in the law enforcement agencies and their ineffectiveness as in upholding law. Corrupt officers are ever willing to act as cohorts of the government and overlook misdeeds perpetrated by the authorities. In return, the police force is immune from prosecution in crimes committed, a vicious circle. The situation is aggravated by marginalisation of Indians, which aggravates poverty, and perpetuates crime – something well known in the country.
Ignoring the larger context, Police resort to brutal methods to extract confessions from detainees. Nearly 90% Malaysians killed in Police custody are ethnic Indians suspected of committing crimes. There is also an unofficial policy of ‘shoot to kill’ codename ‘Operasi copperhead’.
On the basis of national newspaper reports, Human Rights Party has collated the some of the following facts for the year 2010:
- The Star newspaper (16 March 2010, p. 40) published information obtained by the Selangor Hindu Sangam which confirmed that 48% of prisoners in the 28 prisons nation-wide continue to be ethnic Indians.
- Utusan Malaysia (20 September 2010, p. 5) reported that in just four months in 2010, 300 ethnic Indian youths were arrested and detained under Emergency Ordinance in the state of Selangor. Another 900 Indian youth were arrested in Selangor and a total 5,000 countrywide.
- The same newspaper (22 September 2010, p. 10) reported that there were about 100,000 known ethnic Indian gangsters operating in Malaysia.
- News Straits Times of Malaysia (25 March 2010, p. 20) said 36,000 prisoners nationwide including 17,256 Indians are serving a custodial sentence for minor crimes.
- Babu (28), an orphan who surrendered to Police in Jempol on a suspected petty robbery case on 24 Jan. 2010 was found dead in Police lock up a week later. He allegedly hanged himself but Police refused to disclose the findings of a CCTV linked to the cell to NGOs representing Babu’s family (Malaysiakini, 3 Feb.)
- On June 14, A. Gnanapragasam, 53, died in Police custody. He had complained to a Magistrate during remand proceedings of beating in custody. His wife met him the Friday before and noticed beating marks. The Police said he would be released on Monday, but he died mysteriously on Sunday. Police said it could be drug abuse [how this could happen in prison was not explained]. No inquest was held to determine cause of death.
- Investigation and prosecution of the unlawful killing of Kugan remains unchanged at the time the Human Rights Party prepared its report for Pravasi Bharat Divas in Delhi, India. In this high profile prosecution, only one police officer was prosecuted after much public pressure for use of unlawful force to extort confession from a 22-year-old ethnic Indian detainee.
- On July 16, police arrested R Gunasegaran, who died at the Sental Police Station with 2-3 hours of his arrest. An initial autopsy found Gunasegaran died of a drug overdose, but many witnesses claimed he was beaten in custody. At his family’s request, the high court ordered a second post-mortem and inquest, which was said to be inconclusive despite the presence of various wounds and injuries to the body. An eyewitness to the above inquest was later arrested in the presence of his family and beaten by the police.
- On 8 November 2010, police shot and killed five ethnic Indian youths aged 17 to 24. They were alleged to be members of a criminal gang who fired first; but the Indian community protested the ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Till the end of the year there was no official inquiry into the matter
- On 22 Nov. K. Kalaiselvan (21) was believed to have been murdered by Malay members of the police force at Kota Tinggi, Johor police station. The cover up says lung congestion (New Straits Times, 17 Dec. p. 22).
- Mahalingam (35) was believed to have been killed by police at Nibong Tebal police station on 23 Nov. but in an alleged cover-up the police placed the blame on five other fellow detainees and sent them to Simpang Renggam Prison without trial for two years and thereafter indefinitely (see Makkal Osai 7 Dec. p. 7).
- Two brothers from Taiping were shot dead by the Malay police force in what is believed to be a shoot to kill policy of Indian suspects (humanrightspartymalaysia.com 4 May). The road where the two brothers were travelling was cordoned off and baklava-wearing Special Action Forces simply murdered them in cold blood.
- On 6 Jan. Isaikumar Sathieyananthan reported being beaten by several policemen with rubber hose while a policewoman stuffed her booth into his mouth and took pictures of his private parts. He was slapped and kicked by her. He was arrested for suspected theft and released 8 days after the police realised he was not involved. (NST 7 Jan 2010). Federal CID Director promised full investigations but nothing has happened so far.
- 14 year old Mugilan was slapped on the spot for accidentally touching a young Malay girl in an open area swimming pool. He will now be forced to plead guilty for an offence he did not commit as he cannot afford the bail of RM 1,700 (USD 485). Currently he is serving a two-month jail without even being found guilty in a Court of law (see Free Malaysia Today 6 Aug.).
- 13 year old G. Karpagam who complained to the police that her brother was stabbed was in turn locked up with adults at Ipoh police station (see Makkal Osai 13 Dec. p. 13).
- In the sedition trial of human right lawyer P. Uthayakumar on 30 Nov. (humanrightspartymalaysia.com 1 Dec.) the Deputy Federal police criminal investigations department Director DCP Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani testified in effect that Indians are disproportionately 60% higher in comparison to locals killed in police lock ups and shot dead by police!
- In another written parliamentary reply to Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM-Sungai Siput) on 28 June 2010, Home Minister Hishammuddin revealed that police shot dead 82 suspects in 2008 and 88 in 2009.
- Although 5 million Malaysian Ringgit has been allocated to the legal aid foundation, 80% defendants appear unrepresented at trial (The Star, 30 July, p. 24). News Straits Times (24 Jan. 2010, p. 20) reported that 80% of accused involved in theft and assault were unrepresented when charged in court.
Segregation and exclusion of Indian poor from the national mainstream development of Malaysia has forced thousands into a world of crime.