The Saturday’s Hindraf rally came and gone and surprisingly it was well-publicized both locally and internationally. Of course, we may only see one angle of the story in the local media, so try catching a more balanced reporting in the international media and blogs. Image source: Malaysiakini
So, what was the reaction?
Some said 10,000 came, others 30,000 but whatever the number was, it attracted interesting reactions:-
PM said law breakers will be punished
MIC said it was embarrassing and work of the opposition’s ploy to smear the name of the Government in the eyes of the world
One UMNO honcho said that other races have poor people too
IGP said that the police will take action against the leaders, organisers and participants of yesterday’s illegal gathering in the city.
And internationally too:-
Reuters (click here for interesting photo shots)
So, was the Hindraf’s rally last Sunday a big success?
Asking some of my Indian friends and family members seems to say an affirmative yes. Many more are waking up to the call of the Malaysian Indians and are starting to look at what is the real problem that the community is facing. MIC said that the rally was an embarrassment to the Indians but in reality, many seem to say that the rally was an embarrassment to MIC.
Thousands of Indians marching to highlight their grievousness but MIC walked the other way out. That seems to be sending the (wrong?) message to many Indians out there that MIC does not give a damn about the rally and the reasons behind it. Further, with many international news agencies picking up the news on Hindraf (especially Al Jazeera who gave a prominent coverage), it appeared to be the Indians holding out on their own this time.
MIC honcho said “the MIC had been working “within the system” and it had proven to be successful”. But has the system really worked?
Perhaps for the few well connected Indians, it may have but what about the thousands who felt that the system has failed them miserably? For how long, MIC is going to hang on to the “system” which seems to be tilting on side of unfairness?
Protesters lured by the monetary gain?
USD1 million each – that was what the Government and MIC said that lured unsuspected and innocent people to support the Hindraf rally. I talked to several professionals and well-to-do people who actually participated in the rally and they say that money was the last thing in their mind when they marched against the police’s water cannon and tear gas.
They marched because they felt it was the right thing to do – to highlight the injustice and unfairness that have fallen on the community. There was a bigger issue than just dollars and cents when a large of protestors on the move.
USD 4 trillion – a pointless act?
Why USD 4 trillion and why it was filed against the British Government?
That is the question that many Malaysian have been asking in the last few days. Some even called it treason for a Malaysian to asking a foreign government for help. But think again – would the suit been successful or gathered prominent response (as it did last Sunday) if it has been filed against a local entity in Malaysia?
Further, after VK Lingam’s “correct, correct, correct…right, right, right” fiasco, does a layperson (who is ignorant of the law and the working of the court system) really thought they could have gotten a fair trial in Malaysia? If the head of Hindraf who are lawyers seems to have lost faith in the judiciary, what more can be said of the trust of the judiciary in the eyes of a layperson?
The suit would have doomed from the start – it would have been struck down as a matter of public interest. Tell me, how many legal suits against the government and the political parties have gone well for the ordinary people?
So, why the British? Simple – they are the next after the current Government to been involved with Malaysian Indians. And USD 4 trillion did catch your eyes, didn’t it?
Police’s forceful act
For the first time in history, a court order was requested and received to stop the Hindraf gathering. What that seems to say? A lot if you ask me – one, the police knows that the Indians will still proceed with the march, so threats of arrest on sight, water cannon and tear gas did not spook the Indians. It only spooked the Government.
And two, with lawyers heading the rally, there was an urgent need for the Government to make sure all angles were covered, so the court order was the outcome (by the way, the lawyers has been discharged from the sedition charges).
Still, it did not stop the protestors from gathering in the city. In the end, the question remains unanswered – was the police “unnecessary force” necessary for quash a peaceful gathering?
If past Hindraf rallies have been a peaceful one, then why this time it was painted with violence? Was it provoked? Or had the Indians said enough is enough and started to be more aggressive? There was a failure in the crowd control last Sunday and end up turning ugly.
The loss to businesses?
Let’s say a sport event (such as a marathon) was organised on a Sunday morning. Thousands of people running in the marathon, hundreds more lined up to support the event, major roads closed for the event and the police’s work is limited to crowd and traffic control. What is the loss to the businesses?
We had sports events in the city before and did the businesses cried foul then?
Replace the sports event with a peaceful march and what do you get? The same thing but in this case, overzealous enforcement (for what, I don’t know) may have pushed the peaceful demonstration a bit too far to the extreme. Start shooting chemical-laced water at the peaceful protestors and you end up with chaos and destruction.
It was sickening to see the business guild to go on TV and cry foul now and promote BN in the process. It was uncalled for and certainly, the business guild should have asked the same against the police.
Destruction of temple
Another sensitive issue which is also one of the contributory factors to the last weekend’s protest. As mentioned before in this blog, yes it is true that it is a problem for the Indian community and the local authorities to have more than enough temples (including illegally constructed ones).
There have been calls for these temples to be merged into one well-managed temple but there not been many takers. So, it is hardly a surprise to see the Indians’ reactions when the local authority finally came down to evict the temple after giving plenty of leeways.
But the question that has been rising is the high handed tactics of the local authorities in dealing with the destruction of the said temples (some even caught on camera throwing stones at the devotees). What gives them the right to be violent against the ordinary citizen?
It is good that the Hindraf rally created a good awareness of the problems that the community is facing. To reach out to the government for a response may be foolhardy at this time because either the government will fail to acknowledge it (since it was an “illegal” rally) or push the buck back to MIC which means it is back to square one. So what is left for the Indian community to do?
Several things in fact:-
Start with voting the right people in to represent them in the Parliament. Election is coming soon and what a better time to show those who been in power that enough is enough.
Form a better working relationship & professionalism among the community. Less in-fighting and more unity bring the community to higher level of acceptance
Don’t stop voicing injustice and unfairness – we are not the minorities! We are part of the larger Bangsa Malaysia, connect with this bigger community. Race based rule is a dying trend.
Look at the problem facing the community and for this, start with illegal temple structures – demolish them or get them to merge into one single well managed temple. No matter how you see it, at end of the day, it is still an Indian’s problem to be dealt with.
Form independent trust funds to handle scholarship for the deserving students or to provide soft loans for businesses – leave the politics out from these organisations.
Don’t let the sweat & tears of the 10,000 people who walked last Sunday to die a natural death. Because if we did, then we are back to square one and we all know how it feels like being there.
Oh, by the way, another race-based political party has come into the picture – championing the plight of the minority community. Can we stop this crap for once and for all and get a single “Bangsa Malaysia” based party to represent all. The more we engage a race-based rule, the more Hindraf alike protests we will see in future and things will only get messier and messier.