Looking at the larger social setting in the wake of Hindraf 1 and 2 and the state’s neglect of many of those in abandoned or neglected plantations, we shouldn’t be surprised if the sense of desperation and exasperation felt by the Indian Malaysian under-class finds resonance among other marginalised groups in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. David Anthony describes the angst.
I am sad. I cannot be Malaysian, first or last or ever so long as the word ‘bumiputra’ is in our vocabulary. How can I be Malaysian when ‘bumiputra’ reduces me to a second-class citizen?
I am Indian and the other day the HRP/Hindraf’s effort to march in KL to protest the marginalisation of the Indians, racism and ‘Interlok’ was decimated by mass arrests.
Indians in Malaysia have been selectively persecuted by the British, the Japanese and Barisan Nasional throughout history because they are a minority. It is this minority that suffered malarial fever, snakebites and death to clear the jungles to plant rubber that filled the coffers of the British shareholders in London and now the stockholders in KL. This is the minority that fought the invading Japanese army on the beaches of Kota Baru and the Siamese border to save the country. This is the minority that numbered the largest among the 90,000 Asian civilians who perished in the Burma Death railway construction. Nobody kept strict count of them because they were not important. They were buried incognito in mass graves. This is the minority that again cleared the jungles of Malaya to lay the Tanah Melayu railroad and pave the tar roads and link the telegraph wires from pole to pole through hazardous terrain. This indeed is the majority of the minority Tamils, the rest of whom are the English-educated Tamils, who disdain to associate with them.
These are the plantation workers many of whom have been kicked out of plantations ear-marked for other development and ended up as urban squatters. This is the minority who until today do not have a basic wage.
This is the minority now labelled as the ‘pariah’ Indians, nevertheless, inclusive of all Indians in Malaysia. So we are all pariahs – social outcasts – vagabonds of low breed. Gandhi preferred to call them the ‘People of God’. The Tamil word ‘paraiyar’ means a drummer.
The Tamils here have learned the hard lesson over the years not to depend on others to come to their aid. They have to fight their own battle come what may. So if every Tamilian here will take hold of his drumstick and beat his drum even the deaf will begin to hear. The thalam, keeping time with the beat, however, must synchronise with the ragam. Thalam, in Tamil also means suffering from want. Indian Malaysians have suffered enough. The minority ragam rising with passion and desire and crimson red with the thalam should stir every Tamilian to want to be a Malaysian and demand his or her right to be a full-fledged citizen.