From: Times Of India
Expats blame Samy Vellu for Malaysia row
NEW DELHI: It was a volcano waiting to erupt and the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas meet, which closed here on Wednesday, came as a godsend for many Indian expatriates in Malaysia to vent their feelings on what had gone "terribly wrong" with them in the south-east Asian nation.
As the Malaysian government went into a denial overdrive, insisting it never even imagined freezing recruitment of workers from India, the expatriates squarely blamed works minister Samy Vellu, part of the government for almost three decades now, for the "serious plight" of Indians, who constitute a substantial minority there. The burst came as several delegates from Malaysia, despite "the fear of being hounded" back home if their "identities became known", went on to detail "what was really happening" there.
The minister, also in Delhi for the convention, met PM Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee. Vellu, the only Indian in the cabinet, had on Tuesday denied reports on recruitment freeze, and Malaysia's home minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad echoed his words on Wednesday.
"In the real sense, recruitment freeze is a non-issue. PIOs in Malaysia, down now to 8% of population, are being systematically persecuted and marginalized in several other ways. Vellu, who uses his Indian origin for cosmetic purposes, has actually supervised this discrimination over the years," a senior second-generation delegate told TOI . The government's main idea, he said, was to give priority to ethnic Malays and Bhumiputras, who constitute 60% of the population with special rights under the constitution, and the Indians were the most to suffer under the practice.
"Our economic rights are under serious threat. There is a clear design to establish the social supremacy of the ethnic majority, and the mismatch between the civil (common) and Shariat laws has come as a tool for the persecution of Indians. Islamisation is another way in which we are being marginalised," he said.
Another delegate said the discrimination began way back in 1969 when the country witnessed "race riots", adding that the "big change" in the recent past was that Indians had become more organised.
"That is why anti-government protests rocked Malaysia in November last year. Vellu has been part of the decision-making process in the government, and to maintain his monopoly, he did not let the strength of Indians in the cabinet rise to even two in the 1990s. The number of Chinese cabinet ministers went up to six from three," he said.
Vellu is the head of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that supports the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. The delegates said under the present electoral and constitutional system, politicians enjoy absolute powers so much so that even the judiciary was accountable to the executive and free operation of the media was a distant dream.
"Naturally, electoral and political reforms were a big demand during the recent agitation, but activists of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were branded anti-nationals and there was a move to press charges of treason against them. We do not feel secure," the delegate explained.
The Indians' share in the national equity basket was steadily declining. "Malaysia has nearly 1.8 million Indians and only 40% of them constitute the middle or upper-middle classes. The rest is blue-collar labour force. If there is one Indian diaspora experiment that has really failed, it is Malaysia. Unfortunately, the world is being told a different story," another delegate said.