Thursday, 16 October 2008

What HINDRAF Means

Malaysiakini tells me that HINDRAF has been banned:

The government today declared the Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) an illegal organisation with immediate effect.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the decision was made after the ministry was satisfied with facts and evidence that showed "Hindraf had and was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality".

Only our government is capable of turning wild speculation into "facts and evidence".

Now it's no secret that I'm ethnically Indian. Malaysian at heart, but still genetically Indian. It's something I'm very proud of, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

But being Indian doesn't mean I have to agree with everything HINDRAF does. I sort of lost it when HINDRAF lodged a police report over something offensive that they read in a personal blog.

Heck, there was a time when I thought they were a class act with their infamous lawsuit against the Queen of England.

Even today, I airily end a few arguments (in particular, the ones I'm losing) with my non-Indian friends, saying, "You cheap jerks just wait. One day you'll be eating the dust from the wheels of my new Ferrari once I get my cheque from the Queen." :)

Of course, some of those spoilsports do try to prick my bubble with mere technicalities. "Crankshaft," they say, "You'd first have to pass off as a poor, underclass, oppressed and suppressed Malaysian Indian."

It was a popular refrain within the petition. That, and near-slavery conditions.

Since then, it's almost been a year. I've seen more things, been more places and suddenly, I'm not laughing anymore.

I don't know what exactly HINDRAF meant by near-slavery conditions, but some of those hovels that the slum-dwelling Indians live in, are so deplorable that I cannot believe that the Malaysian government turns a blind eye to them.

I promised Pat that, I would one day blog about the life of slum kids in Malaysia. I haven't got round to it.

To be honest, it's too painful. And I keep asking myself if I should be doing more, and if so, what?

In one sense, I'm glad that HINDRAF opened my eyes. It pushed me out of my sterilised, bubble-wrapped, comfort zone into the harsh realities of life.

And it was about time the Indians stood up and started fighting for their rights. I have a friend who often tells me, "Ignore your rights, maybe they'll go away." She has a point.

But how HINDRAF "fights" for their rights has to change to a more inclusive approach. It's time to come together as one, as Haris Ibrahim says.

HINDRAF needs to change its stance.

And for the rest of us, it's time to, as Lulu says:

1) End Hindraf by ending their reason for existence.
2) Put a stop to discriminatory practices against the Indians, or any other race for that matter.
3) Give opportunities to who need that extra push in life.

Though seriously, you really think this ban has an impact on the movement? On makkal sakhti, a phrase even I wasn't quite familiar with prior to their emergence?

Check out The Facts of Life, Now That Hindraf is Illegal. I have a safron 'Free RPK' t-shirt and I plan to wear it to death!

Malaysia bans ethnic Indian protest group - International Herald Tribune


Antares said...

Oooh... I luuurve Yindians! Alvays say to them: "How!" Very elegant take on Makkal Sakthi, Crankster :-)

Michelle said...


Off topic, just wanted to let u know that after reading ur comment about Suhakam and the Penan issue, I rechecked the SUHAKAM website to see exactly what powers they have.

Apparently, it seems that they indeed DO have the powers to investigate, contradicting what the statement said.

I've included the relevant part of their website on my blog, ur views pls.

-naga- said...

To be honest, I am really not sure who or what the government banned? The organisation was not allowed to be registered in the first place, so that technically makes them illegal, but how can one now ban an illegal organisation?

Really, I don't see any difference between yesterday and today.

Also, I suppose, if the government did in fact ban an illegal organisation called Hindraf, lets just all of us align ourselves to Makkal Sakthi movement? If they are planning to ban Makkal Sakthi as well, we will just come up with another name? In the end, they can only ban the name by which we align ourselves, not the struggle.

Patricia said...

I've always been uncomfortable with HINDRAF and the way it does things, but I must grant you that they did bring to light the deplorable state of many Indians here. (But you are right, not just Indians, all the other races have their poor, and they are as poor as the Indians here.)

But one of the reasons for this state of affairs is the Tamil school. Poorly trained or untrainded teachers, poor facilities... the list goes on.

Very little English or BM is learnt here. And then, at 13, they have to masuk the sekolah biasa. And it's a foreign world to them: teachers, and other kids, all speaking in BM or English, and they're lost! And so many, if not most, of them drop out.

At 13, with just a primary school education, in Tamil(!), what can you qualify to do? Can you get a job at all? Can you break out of this cylce?

So, do you think HINDRAF or any other Indian group (mic, ppp, whatever lah) would have the guts, or other part of their anatomy, to say 'enough already'? Let's go mainstream, and in all these schools, just have Tamil as one subject - rather than the way it is now.

But how CAN?! The Chinese have their schools what!

Heck, just look at those schools, man. Most are better than the government schools, and even the private schools here!

The way I see it, our problems will never go away because we're entrenched in the politics of it all. The real sufferers who know no better are used and manipulated and stay just where they are. They get their pictures taken, and everyone says 'awww' and that's that. Forgotten tomorrow. Because if their lot gets any better, somebody loses his political platform!


balan said...

Not sure if this ban make sense as HINDRAF is not a legal organisation in the first place.

As a moderate Indian Malaysian, I don’t agree or support HINDRAF (maybe one of the few Indian who do not support HINDRAF in Malaysia).

No, I’m not a BN Supporter. How many have actually read their memorandum, speeches or attended their gatherings.

The approach, writing and rhetorics incites hatred towards others. They are another organisation hiding behind race, religion, temples and schools. Their arguements are flimsy and does not make much sense.

For alternative views on HINDRAF, from a Indian Malaysian point of view, , please visit (AUg/Sept/Oct Archive)

walla said...

This is splendid news. Bring out the kacang putih. Now the 40% of the Indian population which had not voted for Pakatan will do so in the next election.

And given his recent calls for the release of the Hindraf leaders, one wonders what the MIC president has to say about this ban. Here we have the blustering stalwart of Barisan appealing for their release and there you have the prima donna component member of Barisan not only turning a deaf ear to his pleas but also banning the whole movement. Goes to show two things, innit? One, Barisan is only one batang. Umno. Two, Umno has moved into dangerous grounds - that of setting its own rules to fit its own interests on governance in a multiracial country.

It will require no stretch of imagination after this for MIC members to leave and join Pakatan.

A wise goverment of a multiracial country will walk the path of moderation when crafting and exercising policies affecting all. In this country, and for that matter any other plural one, poverty isn't just the province of one race. All suffer collectively and so the solutions should apply collectively. For lorry drivers, newspaper vendors, estate workers, housewives and shop assistants to suddenly come together and walk peacefully even in the face of water cannons and tear gas, something must have reached its limits. In its zealous haste to bring the Malay citizens into the fold of development to stem their marginalization, Umno as the linchpin of Barisan has marginalized the Indian citizens. Knowing how many of them have been silently suffering for decades from towns to farms, it is not benign neglect. It is malignant neglect.

If Barisan was honest about wanting to improve the lot of the Indians, would there have risen a Hindraf yesterday that they are quick to suppress today?

If a government can assuredly see deprivation from the perspective of one community, why not from another? That leaves one with the inevitable conclusion - Umno is adamant in practising monoracial government.

So what does Umno expect the Indians to do? Lie down and die? Or stand in line and wait patiently for the next miserly indifferent handout given with their voting support in view only, and not with a honest and humane perspective of their plight and a godly will to ameliorate their suffering. Isn't the neglect itself an insult to the official faith and by that an indictment of their hypocrisy?

Do they even know where the Indian poor and needy are, how much they need to survive, what they need to come up again in order to contribute as equals in the same way their forefathers had contributed and sacrificed themselves for this country which they have long called their own?

Right this very minute there is no political representation for the Indian citizens of this country. Banning Hindraf just hammers the last nail in to say they should not be expecting anything after. And with the dark clouds of recession about to cast their shadows over our economy very soon, what safety net will there be erected soon for even one citizen? None. Again they will have to sit in the dark in the small corners of their shanties and witness the only sounds in the room, the rumbles of the hungry stomachs of their young, the look of hopelessness in the eyes of their families, the misery etched on the brows of their elderly.

Meanwhile we talk about jaguhs and spacemen, raising the flag and making glocal leaders, waiting to see who gets deputised, and a thousand ringgit for each vote.

What for?

Umno has just lost its one clear shot at being a truly representative government. Instead it shot itself in the foot. But the bullet also went through the mouth.

One wonders if this home minister has ever seen the real living conditions of the peoples he has just insulted. It's not about Hindraf. Hindraf is just a name, wisps of kamonyang in the still of the night. It's the great indian elephant that's a'comin' from behind that he has completely missed.

And i am not an Indian. If after fifty one years of collective nation-building they have not learnt that race has never been the central matter of what this nation is all about, they will never learn anything.

Unless they quickly do something positive for a change, that's the sad conclusion the rakyat will be drawing.

bruce said...

Walau eh.. Crankster getting fiery!!

Better ccol it before I see you this Sunday.

I am always with you in this.

Crankster said...

Always nice to be loved, Antares. :) And yes, you've got that right - Yindians always feel compelled to add a Y before every I.

My views are on your piece, Michelle.

Naga, makkal sakthi has become more of a national cry than particularly an Indian one.

Crankster said...

Hi Pat,

I have actually pondered all the issues you've brought up. HINDRAF are a bizarre bunch. But they didn't start that way.

They used to write very polite but grammatically incorrect letters to the government since 3 years ago. Those letters were addressed to some place in Damansara - that I clearly remember.

I once joined a Malaysian Indian yahoogroup and I used to read with torrid fascination (at the grammar - these guys are supposed to be lawyers, afterall) the protests they made (and posted online) over the injustice against the Indians.

Frankly, when they started out, they were actually quite civil, but their pleas went to deaf ears. I think those letters to Damansara made a beeline for the trash can.

I don't know when, but at some point, their language started to get more aggressive. Maybe it was brought on by the "diligence" of various authorities in systematically tearing down temples.

And it was that assault against their religion that was the final straw - though I think they were also inspired by BERSIH. :)

I relate all this based on my observations - not as an Indian - but as an independent Malaysian who just happened to be privy to the unfolding of events.

Personally, I think HINDRAF goes overboard often and some of their juvenile temper tantrums do merit a proper bitch-slapping.

But the other side of their story deserves to be told, if not purely for factual accuracy.

- The bad-ass C

Crankster said...

Hi Balan, welcome to my site.

Nice to know you're moderate - I guess some of us will have to be, and I'm certainly not. In fact, one American calls me the Malaysian Secret Agent of Subversive Intelligence. :)

Anyway, I'm not sure what "support" entails. Personally, I admire HINDRAF for having had the guts to stand up for their rights and say, "Enough".

But they do silly things and have the tendency to be myopic. I believe in their cause to improve the rights of Indians, but I also believe it should be inclusive of all races, and not just the Indians.

I have read most of their memoranda, and heard their speeches. They have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to rhetoric, but I'm not convinced it incites hatred towards others.

Besides, the last time I checked, they haven't been flinging molotov cocktails around, burning establishments or going around killing people. The worst they have inflicted on a fellow human being are ... a bunch of roses and a teddy bear?

I disagree with a lot of their objectives, and while some of their arguments are flimsy, some actually hold water.

I don't believe you are a BN supporter. But perhaps your views may be influenced by the material you read, like CheDet, for instance?

Crankster said...

Walla - very observant man, you. :) Yes, UMNO is the only hotshot in town and it's into making its own rules. It's now my way or the highway.

But I think the MIC leaders will still remain. They say there's a sucker born every minute, and the Malaysian Indians have filled their quota in the form and function of MIC.

Hey Bruce - see you this sunday! :)

Anonymous said...

It is very disheartening to read about the wrongs that are happening in our beloved country.

Why are our beloved Rulers keeping silent over the oppression by the evil BN.

Aren't they supposed to be protectors of the rakyat or are they only interested to protect their own ricebowls.

So sad!!!

Makes me wonder about their role and what they stand for???


If we are neutral in situations of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Desmond Tutu

Ramesh said...

I found it a bit funny with this hindraf people who claim to be representing the whole Indian. While other races (Chinese, Malays, Kadazan etc) were represented by political parties to voice their needs, worries and demands. Hindraf choose to do it by themselves. Don't they all learn history. How Malaysia was created...

Malaysian was created by having several parties that representing 3 main races. That includes us through MIC. If we feels that we're not been treated nicely, who should we blamed. MIC and not Malays nor the government. We all must fight for our rights through our party. Let Samy Vellu go down the drain and replace him with our trusted leader.

The problem with Hindraf followers were not because of what they believe but because they have been provoked by hand full number of peoples who wants power. This people failed to win themselves in any Indian based parties. They are just losers.

I urge all my friends, fellow Indians to ignore Hindraf. We should be shame of our self. Our act has shown our true color. We're not a stupid people who are willingly to let our self to be dragged into the fight of some morons who claims to protect our rights. Ending up we've put our self as the lowest cast among all other Malaysian. :(

I love Malays, I love Chinese, I love all other fellow Malaysian. Forgive me my friends, forgive my fellow Indians. We're not as what you might think we are.. :(

Patricia said...

Miss C,

I didn't know they'd been around long before last year. And I can believe that no one gave a hoot for them or their letters - after all, Samy the Vee liked to pretend everything was jeeeerst fain!

I can understand their need to up the ante when the temple demolitions began. And that is something I've never been able to get: why the temples, and why the Indians? You know what I mean? We're a small group, not terribly rich or anything - why pick on us? I just can't figure the motive behind that.

But thanks for letting me know the background about the group.

I think the only way out of all of this is the 'One people, one nation' concept Haris Ibrahim talks about. I see salvation in that; as do many others, I think. It is only the die-hards that seem to view it as evil, and a betrayal of their race.



This Walla person - does she have her own blog? I like reading her. If you're reading this Walla, you got blog ah?

-naga- said...

Ramesh, YOU'RE the one who is funny. Allow me to elaborate.

The thing is your view surprisingly mirrors UMNO's. Whenever we open our mouth to voice our dissatisfaction, the first thing UMNO says is "remember 1969, remember Merdeka, and finally remember we have ISA".

You say we have political parties that represents all races in this country. So let me ask, if MIC really represented Indians past 51 years, would there be Hindraf today? Would we have problems that Indians are facing today?

Okay, forget the Indians. You mentioned Kadazans. We have UPKO to represent them. But though they are part of the original bumiputeras, are they getting the same treatment as Malays? Or are they given an education so that they can come out and mingle with the rest of the population? No. Not only the Indians, Chinese and non-UMNOputeras are divided and ruled, the Kadazans too. The Kadazans residences are turned into tourist areas so that they are a tourist attraction perpetually. I am not saying their residences as tourist attractions are a bad thing, but, frankly, do you even think they are at least given a *chance* or right to education as the rest of us? Those guys are not given an ounce of education, strategically made to be tourist attraction for generations to come. Where is your party who is supposed to represent them?

Ok never mind. You said we need to remember our history. Sure I bloody hell do alright. But do you really think while the rest of the world is adapting to become closer and borderless, we are still clinging to racial policies developed in the 1960s? So in about 300 years from now, if a similar situation arises, lets just say the Kadazans started to demand for their rights, do you think the then ruling government will say, "Oh but you must remember history?"

Ok even then never mind. You said we must support MIC nevertheless, and chase Samy away. Let me ask you, do you think the problem is Samy, MIC, or both? If you remove Samy, you will get another corrupted and equally incompetent leader, never mind the cronyism. The problem with MIC (irrespective of leader) is that they don't have the balls like Hindraf to stand up to UMNO.

You see, that's not really the problem. The problem is race-based politics. As long as one race dominates, others will struggle to get even crumbs. That is why we have to do away with race-based politics. Plus anyway, which party should a child of mixed marriage turn to? Lets say a Chindian, should he/she turn to MCA, MIC, Gerakan etc? You know what being these parties, NONE of them are going to help this person.

You mentioned something that intrigued me so much that I am quoting your whole paragraph:

"The problem with Hindraf followers were not because of what they believe but because they have been provoked by hand full number of peoples who wants power. This people failed to win themselves in any Indian based parties. They are just losers."

By a handful of people who want power? Who?? The 5 leaders? And you said these people failed to win in "any Indian based parties". Erm, 2 of them are with DAP and the other 3 were never in politics. So what on earth are you talking about?

At the end of the day we all have two choices, either we continue believing what the government wants us to believe, or we say "Enough".

Crankster said...

Hi Pat, Walla is a 'he' not 'she' and I don't think he has a blog, but I love his writing as much as you do. :)

To answer your question, the authorities don't think twice about bullying an Indian because he has no political or economic clout whatsoever.

There are heaps of Indians with no birth certificates, no education and no one to stand up for them.

On the issue of temples, to a certain extent, I think there are too many of them and in all the wrong places. Perhaps some do need to be demolished, but replaced with adequate funds to rebuild again in another location.

However, in a few instances, I heard that there were funds allocated to the temple authorities but these were misappropriated. Sigh. Corruption is at all levels and sometimes, Indians are their own worst enemies.

As for the body-snatching cases where the Indian had allegedly converted to Islam, I see no justification in burying the body by the religious authorities.

A funeral, in my opinion, is for the family to pay their last respects.

A lot of things could have been done differently and with more respect and consideration to avoid rising tensions. But the UMNO government really doesn't care.

Naga, thanks for saying it so well - I couldn't have done it better!