Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Interlok row and BN´s sinister motives

While the burning of the novel 'Interlok' is heavily debated, PAS' Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud shown her empathy for those against the book, even while she also does not condone the book-burning.
Not only does she put Indians at ease with PAS but also brings into questions the role played by self-proclaimed custodians of various races, the BN, and the PM and DPM's role in engineering our society into the future.

Anwar Ibrahim meanwhile has lost an excellent opportunity to appease and sympathise with the Indians in dismissing the novel as not racist. He clearly misses the mark here. Hence he will become fodder for bashing as being anti-Indian and strengthen the belief that Pakatan is no better than BN.

Without touching on the 'P' word and circumstances surrounding the controversy, let us analyse the motive behind making the book compulsory for SPM students.

The Interlok issue speaks volumes on BN's motive in indoctrinating our nation into the 1Malaysia frenzy. Looking back, the 1Malaysia prime minister and his 'Malay first' deputy are both responsible for the overzealous fake application of 1Malaysia while stressing that pendatangs should not question the status quo. Let's see what has been implemented since March 8, 2008.

The abolition of teaching maths and science in English in all schools amidst protests by many NGOs is one. Results have shown that Tamil school students had improved since implementation of English as the teaching medium, but the so called 'Indian leaders' just toed the line without any clue. What seems to be important is that BN gets its brownie points from the Malay voters.

And attacking non-Malays has been sub-contracted to other groups, yet does this absolve the blame from BN?

Next we see the overzealous implementation of 1Malaysia camps amongst which has resulted in a tragedy and death of students.

And we have the education minister declaring he is a Malay first. This proves the failure of 1Malaysia, that really says we are equal when we really are not.

Another policy that was bulldozed into implementation was the compulsory pass in history for SPM students, while the subject itself is being scrutinised for being a BN propaganda tool. Is the syllabus historically accurate or just the viewpoint of one party? For example where is mention of past heroes such as Youth Corps P Veerasenan and 'Malaya' Ganabathy who died fighting the British insurgency? There are many more heroes and incidents that the current history schoolbooks choose to ignore, this is being tolerated by BN component parties who share the blame.

After 50 years of successful brainwashing and propaganda from young to believe the only eligible government to rule our country is BN, the Indians will never forget the gifts of tear gas canisters and chemical rain the government of the day gave us in 2007.

The torture, blame, and hardships we continue to endure in the last 50 years have created an awareness amongst us. Since that day in 2007, the Indian community has become sensitive and alert. It has now become a volatile community suspicious of every move by any political party.

With pressure groups ready to strike at anyone, each issue is being suspiciously looked upon. Both BN and Pakatan has to be on their toes, as benefit of the doubt is given to neither. Issues of Kugan, Kg Buah Pala, demolitions of temples and now 'Interlok' are all looked upon as being an attack by the ruling party and discriminatory to Indians.

So why does 'Interlok' matter? Because it could have been any other novel with a 1Malaysia recipe. So why now? Why not another novel?

The story's premise is in 1910s at a time when the pendatangs came to Malaysia. Perkasa would surely have loved this notion of telling things as it is - the Indians and Chinese as pendatangs.

Without doubt Perkasa has celebrated the author. Utusan Malaysia carried front page headlines with a large photo of the author in tears. Knowing the role of Utusan Malaysia, we should get an idea of the direction all this is heading.

From an Indian viewpoint it's very simple: why put our children in a lower pedestal of self esteem to others? Do we need to be told to feel grateful to be in this country? That we are pendatangs whose ancestors were glad to be here as socially, Malaya was a viable country compared to India?

Taking it further and generalising most Indians as coming from the lowest caste is indeed mischievous. Are African American students made to watch 'Roots' and read about Kunta Kinte as literature?

To look back at how our ancestors arrived and the struggles they endured has to be seen accurately and in a positive light. When the African Americans read about Kunta Kinte they will also read about Martin Luther King and in the future about Barrack Obama.

So does our history books have many positive Indian figures who were part of our nation building? Are our children taught about them? It's a myth if someone thinks there are only four castes in India, as there are many castes according to profession and hundreds of sub caste from different regions.

So how does the sentence 'most people from Dravida south are of lower caste' sound to readers? Does it mean false statements such as 'the colour of the skin determines the caste' should be accepted? Is calling Indians 'keling' not enough to insult us? Do we need more insults?

Do they take us to be fools who are naïve an unable to see that behind the friendly handshake the hand at the back approves religious conversion, body snatching, little Napoleans, discriminating policies, insincere promises, lack of equal opportunities for education, ongoing marginalisation, fourth class treatment, subtle polarisation ... I could go on.

Spending millions to upgrade Batu Caves and doing some cosmetic changes and colourful paintings with ugly fat dancing statues in Brickfields and hanging a board called Little India there does not solve even a single grouse of the Indian community.

These are smokescreens to keep BN with their 1Malaysia rhetoric in power.

What the Indians need is acknowledgement of marginalisation, sincere efforts to eradicate our problems, amendment of discriminating laws and policies, keeping the little Napoleans in check, reigning back overzealous officers, sincere willingness to listen and to come up with an royal commission of inquiry on various problems among the community.

With its wealth of resources BN only needs to start implementation with discipline and a heart with a willpower to do what is right. MIC is definitely not what the Indians need. They are clueless people, as they are part of BN.

Has the government attempted to solve 53 years of grievances that was highlighted by 30,000 people in the streets of KL? More activist groups will rise if these issues are not solved. What is going to stop another demonstration?

It is no wonder Indians are seeking other countries that offer them equality and unity in diversity. What more when disunity and racial hatred is being sown in front of our eyes!        

Hindraf Activists to hand over memo to UN on racism – Article from

Susan Loone
Feb 8, 11
Hindu rights activists are planning to hand over a memorandum on the inclusion of controversial novel Interlok into the Malaysian high school curriculum to the United Nations.
The group, led by the Human Rights Party, would hand in the memorandum to the UN office in Damansara this Friday.
N Ganesan, HRP advisor June 4According to Human Rights Party advisor N Ganesan (left), the memorandum is specifically about the inclusion of the novel which stereotypes minority Indians in very negative images into the the school curriculum.
“It is also generally about the anachronistic, subtle, pervasive racist system of the Malaysian government – very much like the Apartheid system,” he told Malaysiakini.
“In that memo we plan to elaborate on how this inclusion of Interlok into the school curriculum is not an isolated move on the part of the government but is actually the tip of the iceberg of a system that systematically excludes the minorities of the country – the Indian poor being the most impacted,” he added.
Ganesan said the group was hopeful that by raising the issue with the UN, Malaysia will be called to account by the international community for its blatant racist policies and practices.
He added that the the world needed to know what was really happening in Malaysia.
“In South Africa the Apartheid system was an overt system of control by the minority over the majority. However, in contrast here in Malaysia it is a subtle and I daresay covert system of control by the majority over the minority,” he said.
“It is probably the only country in the world with such an arrangement still. The world needs to know nevertheless,” he added.
The issue first surfaced at the end of last year when Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T Murugiah registered his protest after his ministry discussed the novel with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Several rallies for and against the novel and the Education Ministry move have taken place, with the latest being more than 100 NGOs under the Malay Consultative Council coalition vowing not to support any ethnic Indian leader from any political party in the general elections.
On Jan 27, Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the novel will remain as the textbook for the literature component of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Form Five, but with amendments to those parts deemed offensive by the Indian community.
Solidarity march on Feb 27
However, Hindu activists are still unsatisfied with the remedy and are planning a rally dubbed the ‘People’s March in Solidarity Against Umno’s Racism’ on Feb 27 in Kuala Lumpur.
Ganesan said the plan to hold the march was triggered by the decision by the Malaysian government to include the novel into the curriculum despite loud opposition from the entire Indian community .
He added that the objective of the march is to say in “clear and unequivocal terms that the time has come for the racist regime of Malaysia to be be dismantled”.
“The constant utterances by the muftis, educators at various levels, Perkasa the Umno outsource, mainstream media, by reminders wherever you turn in Malaysia, the reinforced concrete structure of racist control, the constant harassment, the constant threats of prosecution for sedition are all nothing but sheer manifestations of this pervasive system,” he said.
“This system has to be met head-on”.
Ganesan extended an invitation to participate in the march to all political parties, NGOs and civil society organisations who wish to see an end to a racist system.
He also called on PKR and PAS supporters, who recently demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Egypt, to participate in the rally.
Simultaneous demonstrations are also planned in London in Trafalgar Square and in New York, presumably in front of the UN, on the same date, said Ganesan.

Ex-US envoy launches broadside at M'sia's racism

Former United States ambassador to Malaysia John Malott has lambasted Prime Minister Najib Razak's hypocrisy over his 1Malaysia slogan in a scathing article published today in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

NONEMalott (left), a frequent critic of the government since ending his three-year tenure as US ambassador in 1998, told Najib to take “a long look in the mirror” if he was serious about achieving his 1Malaysia goal.

“Despite the government's new catchphrase, racial and religious tensions are higher today than when Najib took office in 2009.

“Indeed, they are worse than at any time since 1969, when at least 200 people died in racial clashes between the majority Malay and minority Chinese communities,” said Malott in his AWSJ commentary. 

He blamed the recent escalation of tensions on the government for “tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions”.

Malott cited a number of examples, including the incident where a top Najib aide, Hardev Kaur, had suggested thatno crucifixes be displayed during the premier's Christmas Day open house visit at the residence of the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur.

“Ms Kaur later insisted that she 'had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction', as if any Malaysian could say no to a request from the prime minister's office,” lamented Malott.

NONEOther examples of insensitivities, said Malott, included Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussiendefending the actions of a group of residents who paraded a cow's head to protest the relocation of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood, and Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi questioning the“lack of patriotism” of ethnic Chinese and Indian Malaysians.

Malott also slammed Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for stoking racial hatred by regularly attacking “Chinese Malaysian politicians, and even suggested that one of them, parliamentarian Teresa Kok,should be killed”.

As a result of the growing racism, as many as 500,000 Malaysians left the country between 2007 and 2009, more than doubling the number of Malaysian professionals who live overseas, decried Malott.

The economic price tag of racism

He also said Najib is enamoured to right-wing groups such as Perkasa, which are against economic reforms in the name of 'Malay rights'.

“But stalling reform will mean a further loss in competitiveness and slower growth. It also means that the cronyism and no-bid contracts that favour the well-connected will continue.” 

NONEMalott said that while Najib may not actually believe the rhetoric emanating from his party and his government's officers, he allows it because he needs to shore up Malay votes.
“It's politically convenient at a time when his party faces its most serious opposition challenge in recent memory - and especially when the opposition is challenging the government on ethnic policy and its economic consequences.” 

The steady erosion of tolerance, warned Malott, had become an economic problem as well.
“To meet its much-vaunted goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, Malaysia needs to grow by 8 percent per year during this decade. 

“That level of growth will require major private investments from both domestic and foreign sources, upgraded human skills and significant economic reform. Worsening racial and religious tensions stand in the way.”

The former US ambassador argued that while the government might find it politically expedient to stir the racial and religious pot, such opportunism comes with an economic price tag. 

“Its citizens will continue to vote with their feet and take their money and talents with them. And foreign investors, concerned about racial instability and the absence of meaningful economic reform, will continue to look elsewhere to do business.”