Malaysia: India’s only failed Diaspora – Sandhya Jain

Indians are the main victims of police shootings and custody deaths in Malaysia, and the racial profiling of Indian Diaspora and steady increase in crime rate reflects the corruption in the law enforcement agencies and their ineffectiveness as in upholding law. Corrupt officers are ever willing to act as cohorts of the government and overlook misdeeds perpetrated by the authorities. In return, the police force is immune from prosecution in crimes committed, a vicious circle. The situation is aggravated by marginalisation of Indians, which aggravates poverty and perpetuates crime — Sandhya Jain

Hindus protest in MalaysiaIndians are generally recognized as a vibrant and successful community wherever they migrate, and even the poor indentured labour of the colonial era managed to elevate itself to positions of status and wealth in countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Africa, and the Caribbean nations, through sheer dint of hard work and education. In independent India, the educated middle class opted to send its children to the west in search of better professional opportunities, and Indians in general made a mark in the professions there as well, though of late racism is again becoming overt in these countries, as witnessed by the ugly Indian-bashing in Australia.

Islamic Malaysia, however, has been less than fair to its Indian-origin citizens, and even after being embedded in that soil for up to five generations, Malaysian Indians are tormented in various ways by an overtly racist and religious extremist Government. Malaysian Indians are routinely robbed of their fundamental rights and denied equal opportunities in every facet of life.

The current ruling coalition, dominated by the United Malay National Organization party, by explicit State policies excludes the vast majority of Malaysian Indians from the national mainstream, violating Articles 8 and 12 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution. The result is that as much as 70% of Indian Malaysians have been made to be and/or remain hardcore poor, with 90% being in daily or monthly wage-earners only. This poverty is caused by exclusion from proper basic life facilities, from education at all levels, from economic, social and cultural development programs, from equal opportunities in employment, and so on.

This is further catalyzed by a system called Mandorism. It involves the co-option by the ruling elite (UMNO at Federal level and Pakatan at State level) of a small layer of successful Indian Malaysian entrepreneurs, professionals and politicians to subjugate the rest of the Indian Malaysian community. This encourages human rights activists from other groups to ignore the horrendous abuse of human rights of Indians under their very nose.

To begin with, the government’s decision to outlaw Hindraf, a Minorities and Human Rights movement championing the poor and marginalized Indians, in October 2008, has not been rescinded. Malaysia is the current Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Human rights forum in SabahMalay Muslim Supremacy Agenda

Malaysia’s racist system is perpetuated through the Administration which is effectively manned by Malays, the majority of whom are members or supporters of UMNO. It is akin to the discredited Apartheid of South Africa which once had a 500,000-strong all white administration! For example, as the largest employer in the nation, the government has 1.2 million employees. Excluding teachers of Chinese and Tamil, over 95% employees would be Malays. The administration is indoctrinated with Malay supremacist ideology by an indoctrination arm – the Biro Tata Negara. It ensures the blocking of non-Malay Indians and promotion of Malays. UMNO-controlled Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia, continuously spouts racist distortions of events, and influences social polarization.

Discrimination is rampant. Instances of racism include:

  • Rejecting applications for entitlements on petty grounds
  • Blocking information on entitlements from eligible Indians
  • Making it difficult for poor Indian Malaysian to register as citizens
  • Ensuring that lower level policies are in line with the overall racist bent of higher-level policies
  • Ensuring statistics of disbursements or acceptance or selections are not known to non-Malay Indians
  • Ensuring interpretation of policies is such as to disfavour Indians, and
  • Making procedures for various applications in respect to Government unduly complicated for Indians.

Worse, steps are being taken to deepen the Malay-Muslim Supremacy agenda by tampering with the education system again, this time in the SPM examinations where a candidate now must get a credit in History for a First grade in the SPM and a pass in history for a pass in SPM.

Malaysia: The failed Indian diaspora.Extra-Judicial killings and Police abuse

Indians are the main victims of police shootings and custody deaths in Malaysia, and the racial profiling of Indian Diaspora and steady increase in crime rate reflects the corruption in the law enforcement agencies and their ineffectiveness as in upholding law. Corrupt officers are ever willing to act as cohorts of the government and overlook misdeeds perpetrated by the authorities. In return, the police force is immune from prosecution in crimes committed, a vicious circle. The situation is aggravated by marginalisation of Indians, which aggravates poverty, and perpetuates crime – something well-known in the country.

Ignoring the larger context, Police resort to brutal methods to extract confessions from detainees. Nearly 90% Malaysians killed in Police custody are ethnic Indians suspected of committing crimes. There is also an unofficial policy of ‘shoot to kill’ codename ‘Operasi copperhead’.

On the basis of national newspaper reports, Human Rights Party has collated the some of the following facts for the year 2010:

  • The Star newspaper (16 March 2010, p. 40) published information obtained by the Selangor Hindu Sangam which confirmed that 48% of prisoners in the 28 prisons nation-wide continue to be ethnic Indians.
  • Utusan Malaysia (20 September 2010, p. 5) reported that in just four months in 2010, 300 ethnic Indian youths were arrested and detained under Emergency Ordinance in the state of Selangor. Another 900 Indian youth were arrested in Selangor and a total 5,000 countrywide.
  • The same newspaper (22 September 2010, p. 10) reported that there were about 100,000 known ethnic Indian gangsters operating in Malaysia.
  • News Straits Times of Malaysia (25 March 2010, p. 20) said 36,000 prisoners nationwide including 17,256 Indians are serving a custodial sentence for minor crimes.
  • Babu (28), an orphan who surrendered to Police in Jempol on a suspected petty robbery case on 24 Jan. 2010 was found dead in Police lock up a week later. He allegedly hanged himself but Police refused to disclose the findings of a CCTV linked to the cell to NGOs representing Babu’s family (Malaysiakini, 3 Feb.)
  • On June 14, A. Gnanapragasam, 53, died in Police custody. He had complained to a Magistrate during remand proceedings of beating in custody. His wife met him the Friday before and noticed beating marks. The Police said he would be released on Monday, but he died mysteriously on Sunday. Police said it could be drug abuse [how this could happen in prison was not explained]. No inquest was held to determine cause of death.
  • Investigation and prosecution of the unlawful killing of Kugan remains unchanged at the time the Human Rights Party prepared its report for Pravasi Bharat Divas in Delhi, India. In this high profile prosecution, only one police officer was prosecuted after much public pressure for use of unlawful force to extort confession from a 22-year-old ethnic Indian detainee.
  • On July 16, police arrested R Gunasegaran, who died at the Sental Police Station with 2-3 hours of his arrest. An initial autopsy found Gunasegaran died of a drug overdose, but many witnesses claimed he was beaten in custody. At his family’s request, the high court ordered a second post-mortem and inquest, which was said to be inconclusive despite the presence of various wounds and injuries to the body. An eyewitness to the above inquest was later arrested in the presence of his family and beaten by the police.
  • On 8 November 2010, police shot and killed five ethnic Indian youths aged 17 to 24. They were alleged to be members of a criminal gang who fired first; but the Indian community protested the ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Till the end of the year there was no official inquiry into the matter
  • On 22 Nov. K. Kalaiselvan (21) was believed to have been murdered by Malay members of the police force at Kota Tinggi, Johor police station. The cover up says lung congestion (New Straits Times, 17 Dec. p. 22).
  • Mahalingam (35) was believed to have been killed by police at Nibong Tebal police station on 23 Nov. but in an alleged cover-up the police placed the blame on five other fellow detainees and sent them to Simpang Renggam Prison without trial for two years and thereafter indefinitely (see Makkal Osai 7 Dec. p. 7).
  • Two brothers from Taiping were shot dead by the Malay police force in what is believed to be a shoot to kill policy of Indian suspects ( 4 May). The road where the two brothers were travelling was cordoned off and baklava-wearing Special Action Forces simply murdered them in cold blood.
  • On 6 Jan. Isaikumar Sathieyananthan reported being beaten by several policemen with rubber hose while a policewoman stuffed her boot into his mouth and took pictures of his private parts. He was slapped and kicked by her. He was arrested for suspected theft and released 8 days after the police realised he was not involved. (NST 7 Jan 2010). Federal CID Director promised full investigations but nothing has happened so far.
  • 14-year-old Mugilan was slapped on the spot for accidentally touching a young Malay girl in an open area swimming pool. He will now be forced to plead guilty for an offence he did not commit as he cannot afford the bail of RM 1,700 (USD 485). Currently he is serving a two-month jail without even being found guilty in a Court of law (see Free Malaysia Today 6 Aug.).
  • 13-year-old G. Karpagam who complained to the police that her brother was stabbed was in turn locked up with adults at Ipoh police station (see Makkal Osai 13 Dec. p. 13).
  • In the sedition trial of human right lawyer P. Uthayakumar on 30 Nov. ( 1 Dec.) the Deputy Federal police criminal investigations department Director DCP Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani testified in effect that Indians are disproportionately 60% higher in comparison to locals killed in police lock ups and shot dead by police!
  • In another written parliamentary reply to Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM-Sungai Siput) on 28 June 2010, Home Minister Hishammuddin revealed that police shot dead 82 suspects in 2008 and 88 in 2009.
  • Although 5 million Malaysian Ringgit has been allocated to the legal aid foundation, 80% defendants appear unrepresented at trial (The Star, 30 July, p. 24). News Straits Times (24 Jan. 2010, p. 20) reported that 80% of accused involved in theft and assault were unrepresented when charged in court.

Forced conversion of Hindus to Islam in Malaysia.Segregation and exclusion of Indian poor from the national mainstream development of Malaysia has forced thousands into a world of crime.

Forced conversions and the lack of freedom of religion continue to bedevil the Hindu citizens of Malaysia. Coupled with this is the real threat and continuous demolition of Hindu temples, Hindu settlements, and desecration of Hindu burial grounds.

For a country that professes to be multi-ethnic and liberal, with rule of law, a constitution, and progressive attitudes to outsiders (read tourists), the Malaysian reality for Hindu citizens perhaps surpasses the experience of Hindus in illiberal societies like Pakistan. A look at the rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia seems unexceptional:

  • Article 11 provides for religious freedom, which includes the right to establish and maintain places of worships and own and acquire property.
  • Article 12(2) inter alia provides that no person shall be forced to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony of act of worship of a religion other than his own.
  • Article 12(4) provides his parent or guardian shall decide the religion of a person below the age of 18 years.

Forced conversion of Hindu children to Islam in Malaysia.The reality is that forced religious conversions and religious intolerance are part of the creeping Islamization of Malaysia. In any conflict between Islam and Hinduism, the tendency is for Islam to prevail regardless of the merits of the case. This can be seen in several cases of Hindus who have found themselves or their children forcibly converted and unable to reverse the process. This is an area where minority rights are being deliberately overdrawn by majority Muslims.

The decision of the Court of Appeal on 21 August 2010 in the case of Maniam Moorthy shows a disturbing trend wherein the Judiciary has abdicated its powers to the inferior Shariah Courts that were meant to serve Muslims only on matters (personal) pertaining to marriage, divorce, property distribution, and so on. The amendment to Article 121 of the Federal Constitution in 1988 has been manipulated by the state to force Islamisation upon non-Muslims in Malaysia.

The Human Rights Party Malaysia has compiled a number of instances from national newspapers:

  • Rani, 56, has been struggling for 30 years to get her Muslim name and religious status changed to Hindu. Rani was only 16 days old when she was given away by her Muslim biological mother to a Hindu neighbour on account of extreme poverty. She was raised as a Hindu by her adopted parents but when she married her marriage registration application was rejected and her Hindu husband forcefully circumcised and converted. He agreed to the conversion when threatened with a jail sentence, and now, Rani’s children and grandchildren have all been denied their Birth Certificates even after 30 years of struggle as they are all practising Hindus. The family threatened to commit suicide if forced to convert. The threats continue…
  • A mother of two, S. Banggarma, was unknowingly converted to Islam by state religious authorities as a child of 7 while in a welfare home in Penang against the provisions of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution. She discovered this when seeking to register her marriage in 2000. Due to her Muslim name, she could not register her marriage to Sockalingam, which was conducted according to Hindu rites. She was also unable to register her husband’s name as the father in her children’s birth certificates. She also faced difficulties in registering the birth of her two children – Kanagaraj, eight, and Hisyanthini, two. Till date she has failed to change her name and religious status, and remains technically a Muslim. Her children are deemed Muslims.
  • Indira Gandhi’s three children were converted without her consent and knowledge and her baby girl abducted by her husband who converted to Islam to spite her because of marital problems (see NST 28 April 2009, p. 4). The Islamic authorities and the police refused to secure her baby from her estranged husband despite a High Court Order in her favour (The Star Apr 24, 2009)
  • Mr T. Tharmakanoo’s estranged wife converted their two children to Islam without his consent (Conversion without consent –, 21 Apr 2009)
  • Till Dec. 19, 2010, the application of Mohd Ramzan Maniarasan to renounce his Islamic faith and return to his original faith was still pending
  • On 21 Aug. 2010, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Muslim Shariah Court has sole and absolute jurisdiction to determine if a person is a Muslim. Ms Kaliammal, wife of late Sergeant M. Moorthy, had sought a declaration that her late husband was at all times a practising Hindu. In Dec. 2005 the late M. Moorthy was unilaterally declared a Muslim by the Shariah Court and buried as a Muslim.
  • Raimah Bibi, a practicing Hindu, was once adopted by an Indian-Muslim family when a child. Her IC never indicated she was a Muslim, but when she applied for her new Identity Card her name was changed to Rahimah Bibi bt Noordin and identified as a Muslim. On 2 April 2007, seven officers from JAIS arrested her and told her husband that his wife of 21 years was a Muslim and that she and the six children must be placed in a rehabilitation centre. She is still forcibly separated from her family by order of the Islamic Shariah Court.

Muslims protest construction of Hindu temple with cow's head.Iconoclasm

Right from independence in 1957, the government has countenanced the systematic destruction of Hindu places of worship, which once stood on estates and state-owned estates and land – as Hindus came as indentured labour and built their modest temples of their village and clan deities where they were settled.

To date, Hindu Human Rights Party estimates that nearly 10,000 places of worship have been demolished [all data collected by HINDRAF was confiscated during police raids on official premises in 2006].

Government justifies demolition of the places of worship on grounds that they were ‘illegally’ constructed or were occupying government land; this is contested as:

  • Most of the places of worship and graveyards/crematoriums demolished by the state were built-in the colonial era and therefore existed for nearly 200 years
  • Indian migrant workers transported as indentured labour were assigned to clear large acres of thick jungle and prepare land to become rubber plantation estates. The workers thus settled on the plantations by their colonial masters were permitted to build their places of worship on plantation land, which survives to date.
  • After independence, the government of Malaysia failed to uphold its responsibilities under the Federal Constitution and to issue land rights to the Hindu places of worship, though mosques built before independence were granted land titles
  • A study by the Centre for Public Policy Studies shows that since the 1970s, whilst in the process of acquiring thousands of plantation estates under the Land Acquisition Act for development purposes, the government has been directly responsible for displacing 300,000 ethnic Indians from the estates and sanctioning destruction of places of worship without a relocation programme on grounds that temples on government land were without permits
  • The rights of poor Indians are seldom acknowledged or respected and State Governments tend to use State power and media to manipulate public opinion, corruption and ‘Mandorism’ to evict marginalized Indians who, unaware of their entitlement, are denied legal ownership of land in majority of cases. Their historical occupation of the land appears not to count for much and any offer of compensation seldom matches their loss.

A cursory selection from newspaper reports reveals that:

  • There are 23,000 Hindu temples and shrines in Malaysia (NST 4 May 2009 p. 11) but the government refused to grant them land and gazette them as in the case of Islamic places of worship
  • These Hindu temples can be demolished any time by fundamentalist Malaysian Islamic authorities
  • The Kaliaman Hindu temple near Semambu had to be moved three times in a few years to avoid being demolished ( NST dated 18 Feb. 2009, p. 13)
  • In Dec. 2009, opposition controlled state Government of Kedah (North Malaysia) demolished a Hindu Cemetery in Ladang Pekaka Kuala Ketil which was over 100 years old
  • Under former Selangor Chief Minister Khir Toyo upto 2007, on an average one Hindu temple was demolished each week (reply to question by Mr Manoharan Malayalam, Legislative Member for Kota Alam Shah in early 2008 at State Legislative Assembly)
  • In early September 2009, Malay Muslims were allowed to stage a public protest against the relocation of a 100 over year-old Hindu Temple from another location in Shah Alam to their locality. The protestors were allowed to parade a severed bull’s head without interference from the police who were present. The Malays spat at and placed their feet on the severed cow head.
  • On 5 Sept. 2009 HINDRAF held a peaceful candlelight vigil to protest the Muslim bull head insult. Sixteen HINDRAF members including Legal Adviser P. Uthaya Kumar were forcibly stopped and arrested. (See Makkal Osai, 6 Sept. p. 14)
  • HRP, Malaysia estimates that a high proportion of existing temples on plantation land risk being demolished due to government’s reluctance to grant land rights and legitimise their existence
  • – In 2010 government failed to provide funding for places of worship for Hindus and non-Muslims worshippers for financial year 2010–2011; large acres of land are regularly granted and allocated for mosques with adequate funding for the financial year.
  • Cakra Guna (52) torched himself to death to stop Selangor state government from demolishing Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Puchong City Centre on 2 Nov. 2010. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the Indian poors’ suffering and heartache in being denied permanent land for their temples, cemeteries, Tamil schools and Indian villages (which are deemed squatters).
  • The century old Muneswarar Temple, Teluk Intan, suffers drain water stagnation despite temple devotees lodging formal complaints with the District Works Department over the last three years. Scores of Hindu temples have been forced to relocate next to sewerage ponds and Industrial area “wastelands”.
  • Selangor state government recently allocated 15,000 square feet (just over one-quarter acre) for Padang Jawa Sri Maha Mariamman Temple after demolishing it in 2007, below a Telekom Tower which could endanger the lives of the priests and devotees
  • The 50-year-old Perianna Muneswarar Hindu temple in Air Panas, Setapak, was razed in less than 20 minutes by Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) workers on 24 June 2010
  • Hindu temple in PPR Sungai Bunus, Setapak was demolished by the DBKL in uniform, on 24 June 2010 (The Star Metro 28 June, p. M14).
  • Cheras Hindu Temple, Selangor, built in 1936 on 1.6 acres of land, today occupies only 1119 square meters, the government taking the rest to build roads (Malaysia Nanban, 29 Aug. 2010, p. 16)
  • Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was demolished on 27 April 2010 by a developer with no advance notice under police protection when the majority of devotees were at work.
  • TNB Hindu Temple, Bangsar, has not been granted land by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and could be demolished with impunity (Tamil Nesan, 10 Dec. 2009, p. 10).
  • Mathurai Veeran Hindu Temple, Shah Alam, was demolished by Selangor state government on 22 Oct. 2010, and the deity left beheaded (Tamil Nesan, 23 Oct. 2009; Malaysia Nanban front page; Makkal Osai front page)
  • Hundred year old Sri Naga Kanni Maha Mariappan Temple in Teluk Intan, served notice to move within two months (The Star 30 Sept. 2010, p. N49).
  • In 2008, the land office repossessed the land belonging to Tiruvalluvar Tamil School opposite the present location of the temple.
  • Due to denial of land, the Muniswarar Temple, Kampung Pendamar, Klang, was built at the back lane of the house of M. Sinnaalagi (50). Selangor land office enforcement officers demolished temple on 10 Aug. 2010 (New Straits Times, 11 Aug. 2010, p. 24).
  • Kulai Besar Hindu Temple was made into a housing project and the ancient temple forced to move two kilometres away where there are very few Hindus without land title issued.

This is the true face of Malaysia’s religious freedom and respect for the dignity and culture of its citizenry.

The Indian community in Malaysia has the highest suicide rates in the country, as compared to other ethnic groups. It is 600% higher than the Malay Muslim community, and is certainly attributable to the fact that the burden of life is heaviest on Indians owing to their pathetic socio-economic status. Low incomes, lack of education and skills, family stress, indebtedness, alcoholism and a sheer alienation and hopelessness have been cited in various researches conducted in the country to explain this staggering suicide rate. It confirms the marginalization of the community as a whole.

In 2008, Deputy Minister for Women, Family and Community Development G Palanivel said 30-35 Malaysian Indians per 100,000 committed or attempted to commit suicide annually, three times the Malaysian average. Reports constantly pour in of Indian mothers attempting to kill their children before taking their own lives. A recent case concerns Seetha of Gemencheh Negri Sembilan, who was upset when her younger Surendran was shot dead by Malaysian Police in cold blood on 8 Nov. 2009; she took her own life and those of her four children on 12 Nov. There are many such stories.

Malaysian police arresting Hindu lawyer.Citizenship and Nationality: Making Indians Stateless

The worst aspect of discrimination in Malaysia pertains to the denial of birth certificates and identity documents to Indians, with the result that as many as 1.5 to 2 lakh citizens are denied basic citizenship rights. They are thus rendered STATELESS despite being fourth and fifth generation citizens of the country.

The ethnocentric system operated by the ruling UMNO regime makes it seek political advantage by reducing the population of ethnic groups that are not its basic constituency and increase that of its basic constituency – Malay or Muslim. In contrast to Hindus, Muslim immigrants from neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Philippines are readily given citizenship.

The National Registration Department (NRD) of Malaysia continues to adopt a biased, racial and religious approach in executing its tasks. To mitigate the plight of the stateless Indians, the Human Rights Party launched a nationwide campaign for documentation of applications to the NRD for ICs and BCs. On 13 Aug. 2010, the national adviser of HRP / Hindraf N. Ganesan, pro-tem secretary general P. Uthayakumar, president W. Sambulingam, S. Thiagarajan and Manimaran met En Mohd Azmin bin Hassan, Director of Births, Deaths and Adoptions and twelve of senior officers in Putrajaya to amicably solve the problem.

But Malaysian newspapers themselves report that one in six Malaysian born ethnic Indians is denied a birth certificate, identity card and citizenship (The Star, 26 Sept. 2010, p12). Teenage marriages are taking place amongst ethnic Indians in estates as they do not possess birth certificates to confirm date of birth following failure to register births (The Star, 26 Sept., p 12). As many as 93,360 birth certificates were processed in 2009 for children and others without proper birth certificates, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (UM-14/11/09 p 4).

Malaysians undergo an arduous procedure of providing proof of birth of the child, parents’ marriage, parents’ citizenship proof and are made to run to and fro as applications are not complete, and then interviewed before the birth certificate is issued. This is deliberate government policy to contain non-Malay Muslim population.

  • Darshini (11) was denied a birth certificate because her mother had not registered her birth within the required 42 days as the father was away working as a crane driver in Penang. She has been asked to leave school. Malaysian authorities rejected her application so many times that she has stopped trying (Malaysiakini 23 Jan 2009).
  • Fourth generation Mariappan, an odd job labourer, and his wife do not have Identity Cards; his three children have no birth certificates. So they cannot find legitimate jobs; their marriage is not registered… Two children are attending a nearby Tamil school, where two out of twenty children are without birth certificates. Soon these children will be asked to leave school on this count.

Demonstrating for human rights in Malaysia.Education and the Constitution

Young Malaysian ethnic Indians suffer lack of opportunities and hurdles in acquiring tertiary education. Admission to public universities is through the extremely difficult Pre-University program of STPM (Higher School Certificate) for Non Malays, compared to an easier pre-University program of Matriculation for Malays. Further, very limited places are allocated for Malaysian Indians, that too, in less desired programs. Student scholarships and loans are very limited for ethnic Indian students.

As many ethnic Indian students choose to go abroad for tertiary education to countries like India, Indonesia, Russia, and Romania, to improve on their future opportunities, in many cases using their parents’ life savings, the government shut this opportunity by introducing a requirement to have special certification to study abroad. Such students were denied access to government scholarships or loans from the Government Higher Education Fund.

In theory, the constitution provides equality before the law and equal protection of the law, but specially says there will be to prejudice or discrimination in the administration of any educational institution maintained by public authority, especially in the matter of admission or payment of fees. But the reality is a rock solid Racist system akin to the Apartheid regime of South Africa. Only a handful of seats in Medical Faculties of 20 Malaysian Government Universities are available to Indians, just about 1-2% of seats. Deserving Indian students are routinely denied places.

According to press reports: –

  • Indians students are excluded from the 200,000 places in University UiTM, which only admits the Malay Muslim students (Utusan Malaysia 1 Jan 2009). Yet 10% of the annual intake into UiTM are foreign students from Muslim countries
  • There are 62,000 diploma places and 60,000-degree places for 2010 at 27 Polytechnics in Malaysia (NST 22 Nov. 09, p 25). It is estimated that a mere 0.1% will be given to Indian students regardless of their qualifications
  • 8,132 PhD graduates are produced from the 20 government universities (The Star, 2 Dec 09 p 20); only 0.1% are Indians
  • There are 163,779 students studying at the 20 government Universities at an annual expenditure of RM 2.6 Billion; a mere 1% of this expenditure and/or University places will likely be given to Indian Malaysian students.
  • Dr. Mahathir decided to restrict the number of students studying medicine in various universities in Russia after a visit in 2003. Most were from Indian families, who had raised personal loans due to lack of places in Malaysian universities. The Malaysian Government derecognised the foreign universities despite a huge shortfall of doctors in Malaysia (UM 8 Oct 09 p 29).
  • The Malaysian Government instituted a new scheme of “No Objections Certificates” to be issued by the Ministry of Education in the name of maintaining education standards before students can go abroad for studies (NST 9 Mar. 09 p 16)
  • The government recruits doctors from mainly Muslim countries while hundreds of Malaysian Indian doctors qualified from India, Indonesia, Ukraine, Russia, and Romania suffer their degrees derecognized.
  • Yet because of lower standards of Medical schools in local Universities, the European Union has since 1990 derecognized even University Malaya’s (the oldest Malaysian University) Medical degree (NST 19 Mar 09 p 12)
  • RM 2.8 Billion is allocated for the 2010 National Budget for student’s assistance scholarships, but only an estimated 1% may reach Indian students.

Fifty six top-scoring (7 to 13 A’s) Indian students reported denial of entries by the Malaysian government into both local and foreign universities as well as Matriculation Programmes. All students were also denied Public Service Department (PSD) and other scholarships despite their excellent results in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (Malaysian Certificate of Education) Examination. These are only the tip of the iceberg.

At secondary school level, elite schools are simply out-of-bounds for all Indian students, even though they all qualify according to criteria established by the Malaysian Government for Malay Muslim Students. Even very meritorious Indian students do not get the opportunity for all round and focused development available in Mara Junior Science Colleges or fully residential schools. Sadly, 80% ethnic Indian Malaysian students do not go beyond Form 5, mostly because of the lack of institutional support and poverty.

The Tamil schools where 50% of all Indian children study suffer terrible deprivation in terms of basic resources due to systematic neglect by the UMNO Government. So while 50% of the 200,000 Indian students attend the National Primary School system and about 100,000 attend the Tamil Primary schools, as many as 371 of the 523 Tamil schools are denied full government financial assistance even after 52 years of independence. 289 schools are located in the plantations.

The 523 Tamil schools were promised RM 100 million under the 2009 first and second economic stimulus packages, but so far ZERO funds have been received by a single school though the year is over (The Star 30 Sept 2009 and letter to Prime Minister Najib dated 13 Oct 2009). Similary, RM 30 billion was allocated in the 2010 national budget for 80 new schools; 1100 additional blocks and 347 school replacement projects; to refurbish, upgrade schools, pre-school education performance schools. Yet nearly two-thirds of the Tamil medium schools remain in the pre-war dilapidated, near cowshed conditions.

Though 817 Tamil schools pupils scored 7 As in Nov. 2009, barely 1% will get to enter the 12,440 Mara and fully government residential schools. State land has yet to be allocated to most of the partially aided Tamil schools in the country. Scores of Tamil school land are snatched or disappears (TN 18 Apr. 09 p 3). The land issue is one of the most serious affecting the future of the community. Schools also lack bare necessities like tables and chairs; there is an acute shortage of classrooms; there is often a paucity of library, science laboratory, computer lab, canteen and playing field. Above all, there is a lack of pre-school facilities. Tamils are equally discriminated in the matter of skills training, vocational and technical training, and admission to polytechnics, and so on.

Indian Slavery and Child Slaves

The worst secret is the slavery and abuse of Malaysian Hindus in the country:-

  • A five-member Indian family was subjected to slavery for the past four years in an oil palm and rubber plantation, Bahau negeri Sembilan. The husband, wife and three children aged between 4 and 10 were imprisoned and forced to work without pay; they were also physically tortured by their employer. (Berita Harian 25 Dec. 2010 p. 1)
  • Vishnu Parani Kumaran (14), son of Devi Kannaiya (32) who has no Birth Certificate and whose father is languishing in prison, works as a lorry attendant for a daily meagre income of RM 20/-. Before that, he worked as a dish washer in a Chinese restaurant. His brother who is one year older, also works as a grocery shop assistant for a meagre daily wage of RM 15/-. Both brothers have to work as their mother could not secure a job to support the family and they do not qualify for any aid under the Welfare Ministry as they do not have identification papers.
  • R Priya (19) has been a slave for 14 years since the age of five. Her younger brother, Guna (16), faced the same fate since the age of three. Both were put to hard labour (Malaysiakini 7 Jan. 2010). Priya began with daily household chores and was later put to work at a small-scale glove factory all day, and then return to finish the chores at home before being allowed any food. She was beaten and not paid for the labour.
  • Priya was tortured when caught trying to run away last year; she attempted suicide by consuming rat-poison. Guna escaped on 11 Dec. 2009 by hitch-hiking on a lorry moving from Bahau to Bentong.
  • Indian children as young as five are found scavenging for a living – looking for recyclable items like plastic bottles and aluminum cans at the Bukit Beruntung landfill. (Star Metro, 24 Aug 2010, p M 1)

These cases reflect the reality of the 70% poor Indians in Malaysia, many of whom are underage children without Birth Certificates and Identity Cards. It goes without saying that the number of unreported child labour cases will be greater in the country as a whole.

» For more information, contact HINDRAF chairman, P. Waytha Moorthy, Barrister at Law, Lincoln’s Inn, London, at or visit www.humanrightsmalaysia.comVijayvaani, Jan. 7, 2010