‘Malaysian government, opposition not doing enough for Tamils’


Kuala Lumpur : A Malaysian parliamentary forum has highlighted the continuing dissatisfaction among the Indian community a year after a Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) rally to voice their problems was suppresed.

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Participants at the forum chaired by Charles Santiago, a lawmaker from Klang Valley, said neither the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) nor the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have addressed the issues of poverty, unemployment, low wages and poor education facilities that face the Indian community.

They said that the rally by the Hindraf last year helped turn the tide against the ruling BN alliance, reducing its majority in parliament, and denying it control of five of the 13 states in the March elections.

However, their ire is as much against the opposition PR alliance, to which a majority of ethnic Indians were perceived to have voted.

According to them, the opposition alliance, which benefited from the vote swing, is also “dragging its feet” on resolving Tamil working class issues like poor education facilities and low wages, The Star newspaper said Tuesday.

Tamil language newspaper Makkal Osai, in a special report, highlighted the Hindraf rally that attracted 10,000 people, but was declared illegal and forcibly dispersed by the police as a means of showing dissent and anger among the Indian community against the BN government.

A year after the rally, five of its organisers – M. Manoharan, Vasanth Kumar, P. Uthaya Kumar, Ganabati Rau and S. Kengadharan – are still in jail, serving two-year terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

The government has disregarded pleas for their freedom, fighting their habeas corpus and bail pleas, alleging that Hindraf has ‘terror’ links, particularly with the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Hindraf’s application for registration as a non-government body was rejected recently, making it an illegal organisation.

Ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamil Hindus who came here during the British era, form eight percent of Malaysia’s multi-ethnic population of 28 million.