So there is meant to be a gathering of Indians at the British High Commission this weekend.
The Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), which had begun a class action suit against the British government in August, is a grouping of individuals whose avowed goal is to fight for the rights of Hindus in Malaysia.
The main grievance of Hindraf (ostensibly) is that too many Hindu temples and shrines are being demolished in Malaysia and this is in contravention with the right to one’s own religious practices enshrined in the Constitution, pardon the pun.
Authorities don’t care
In my experience with these demolitions (seen plenty of them), the fault in this issue lies with two parties.
No 1: Local governments that see it as another illegal structure that must be torn down because there wasn’t any permit/land conversion status dodgy and numerous other legalities.
In this case, there are sensitivities that are blatantly ignored. I’ve seen with my own eyes, bulldozers just ploughing into a temple’s inner sanctum. Readers, just imagine this scenario but replace the image of the hindu temple with a mosque/church/synagogue if you are Jewish or, any place of worship of your religious denomination. Wars have started on less provocation.
Yet this practice goes on. In Malaysia, I know for a fact that even the Indian leaders belonging to the ruling Coalition are often ignored or shouted down when they bring up such matters. Ask Samy Vellu; he’s been up there long enough to know.
The insensitivity to Hindus is rife among many Malaysians of monotheistic faiths who revile Hindus as idol worshippers, but say something equally derisive against theirs and they will be up in arms, in some cases aided by the Umno-empowered keris-wielding thuggery and beligerence.
And they say Hindraf raises sensitive issues.
You call this tolerance, harmony and Malaysia Truly Asia? Bollocks!
Temples and shrines galore?
You see, most housing development blueprints I have seen, has some kind of mandatory provisions for the building of mosques. Such provisions are not made for churches and temples (for Hindus or Taoists). So where do they build temples? So most temples in Malaysia are illegal by default?
On the other side of the coin is of course the various hindu communities that build temples everywhere; under a tree, beside a river, in a cave, near a quarry….the list goes on.
Just because it is old doesn’t make it legal, people. Remember that. Temples and shrines sprout in the oddest of places and while communities come and go and grow, needs and demographics may change. What if a shrine stands in the way of a six-lane expressway, or a flood mitigation project? Such things need to be discussed and examined at length. Think!
Are all temples sacred places that cannot be touched? I wonder what kind of development can take place anywhere then. There are places where if you ask me, situating a temple or any human-dwelling should be discouraged, because of the environmental impact. And nature has been there long before man or religion, so who has more right to exist? Think!
Why sue the Brits?
The parties bringing the class action suit are all Malaysians. The grievances are against the Malaysian authorities. 50 years after Merdeka, you go and sue the Brits and say they didn’t protect Hindu rights.
Some flaws here.
Firstly, the disenfranchisement of Malaysian Indians are neither confined to the Hindus nor Indians alone.
Secondly, demolition of Hindu places of worship aren’t the only thing, nor is it the most important of the issues facing the Indian underclass in Malaysia.
Thirdly, wouldn’t it be a more practical long term approach to join the larger wave of thinking today that says something is wrong with the system? Your beef is not with the Brits, especially not after 50 years. It is with the local leadership, both ethnic and national.
The Islamisation policy that begun in the early days of Mahathir era (meant to countermand the ascension of PAS influence among Malays) has somewhat put paid to the well-meaning nation-building aims of our Constitution’s signatories.
Tun Sambanthan (remember who he is?) was quoted to have said this.
“We belong to a plural society, and we should always remember that in such a society we have to recognise that psychology has its own place. It is not enough if one’s own attitude towards a problem is good. It is necessary that he should see what reaction, what effect it would have on members of different communities.”
No political leader in Malaysia will sing that lagu today.
The way I see it, there are many, many ethnic Indians in Malaysia that are both educated and care enough to for parliamentary or state representation. So, vote out Samy and his gang, if you think he doesn’t serve a purpose anymore.
Elections aren’t fair you say? That was the reason for the Bersih march the other day. At the end of the day, the demand for a better deal has to be an effort that runs across the racial/religious boundaries.
To the organisers and sympathisers of Hindraf, I’d like to share this bit from a news report.
Second political secretary to the British High Commissioner Dawn Houghton said they will be ready to receive the petition on Sunday.
“We are aware of their plans. Any demonstration is between Hindraf and the local authorities. There should be someone receiving the petition,” she added.
Think about this.
Also, the Malaysian police has far less regard for an Indian life. So, don’t expect Nov 10-like restraint from them here. The rules of engagement will be different. Mark my words.