Friday, 30 November 2007

MIC responds to Hindraf Rally

MIC set its damage control machinery into motion in the aftermath of the Hindraf rally. Would it be too little and too late? But the urgency with which it responded to assuage the fears and discontent of the Indian community should be lauded. Let's hope it is not a public relations gimmick.







30 November 2007

MIC to set up hotline to address the problems of the community

KUALA LUMPUR: The MIC will set up a hotline as soon as possible to handle all problems faced by the Indian community, its president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said.

He said that after meeting the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had also asked MIC to set up a special committee to analyse and address socio-economic problems faced by the Indian community.

“We expect calls on problems on Tamil schools and Hindu temples. Other problems can also be channelled to the hotline,” he told reporters after chairing the party’s central working committee meeting here yesterday.

Samy Vellu said the problems would be referred to party leaders according to their portfolios.

He said the telephone and contact numbers of the hotline would be published in the local newspapers as soon as it was set up.

“When there are problems which need to be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, I will bring it up with them,” he said.

Samy Vellu said that he had also received hundreds of SMS on his handphone after certain quarters distributed his numbers and those of MIC leaders.

“While many were genuine, some were crank ones.”

Samy Vellu said Abdullah wanted the committee to submit a detailed report on all the demands of the Indian community so that they could be evaluated.

He stressed that the committee was a result of a report submitted by the party to Abdullah in June. The report is entitled “A New Mechanism for the Indian Community”.

Asked if all these measures were due to the Hindraf protest last Sunday, he said MIC had always submitted a report to the Prime Minister every six months.

He said Abdullah was very sympathetic to the plight of the community and the Prime Minister had promised to study the report.

Saying that Abdullah asked the special committee to come up with more proposals, Samy Vellu said among the new proposals would be to provide the number of non-bumiputras serving in the civil sector, their ranks and also the number of vacancies available at both the federal and state levels.

The Works Minister said that whenever the party did something for the Indian community, it did not seek publicity. He refused to comment on the fate of Cameron Highlands MP K. Devamany on remarks the latter made on the woes of the Indian community in the Parliament sitting on Monday.

“I do not want to comment on the issue as he is supposed to meet Barisan Nasional Chief Whip and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak to explain his remarks.”


Thursday, 29 November 2007

Morons of Parliament: Demolish Christian Statues, Destroy the Crosses

I read this post in www.darnmalaysia.com. The advocates of this insanity are none other than two members of parliament from the Batu Pahat district, Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong] on the left and Datuk Haji Mohamad bin Haji Aziz [Sri Gading] on the right. Batu Pahat happens to be my hometown, and I am ashamed to admit that we had elected MPs who couldn't see beyond their noses.


November 23, 2007

Today, I will introduce you to 2 Morons of Parliament (MP). These 2 MPs recently talked smack in Parliament about Christian missionary schools and even suggested demolishing Christian statues and crosses. The text can be found here on Lucia Lai’s blog, but I will just translate the entire page to the best of my ability. If you want to read the Hansard, please download it from the parliament website.

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]: [Some unrelated stuff first] Yang Di-Pertua, I would like to touch on a matter regarding the Ministry of Education, which are Christian missionary schools like Convent, La Salle, Methodist, and so forth. I was made to understand that the Board of Directors at these schools are partially administered by churches in foreign countries, for example in the Vatican City. I was also made to understand that the application to build a ’surau’ in some of these schools had to go through the approval of these Board of Directors whereby they are partially administered by the church. Therefore, it shames me that the school administrations are still controlled by the church. I was also made to understand that many Muslim parents send their kids to these schools, and that they have complained that sometimes, the school is started with church songs. I do not know if this is true, but what I discovered from these parents are the display of religious symbols. I feel disappointed that in an Islamic country, Malaysia, if I go to a convent school, the statue of St. Mary is displayed in the front of the school.

Datuk Haji Mohamad bin Haji Aziz [Sri Gading]: [Stands up]

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]: Please proceed, Yang Berhormat for Sri Gading.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Yusof bin Yacob]: Yes, Yang Berhormat for Sri Gading.

Datuk Haji Mohamad bin Haji Aziz [Sri Gading]: I am not shocked at all, Yang Berhormat for Parit Sulong. It’s not just a simple question. The question is, why has this happened? One. During the last Hari Raya, I was told by a father, when Aidilfitri was celebrated, these types of schools were not closed. Thank you.

Tuan Syed Hood bin Syed Edros [Parit Sulong]: Not only statues, but fellow Yang Berhormat, go and see for yourselves, Christian crosses are displayed in front of schools. I do not understand the Ministry of Education, did the officers not see that, or is it our policy to allow such a thing? Nevertheless, I, as a responsible person to my religion, race, and country, I state my views that these statues need to be demolished, these crosses need to be destroyed and church influences in these schools need to be stopped. Also, the funds that are collected at these schools. Do we have a report? If possible, the ministry should reveal the funds for these schools. I was made to understand that these schools are also sponsored by the church. continued next page…

Ok. Dear readers, do you have friends that studied in Christian missionary schools? Heck, in Ipoh where I grew up, I’ve got friends studying in these schools and I have never heard of schools starting with Christian church songs. If it did happen, don’t you think it would have already created a bigger controversy? Instead, we have to hear such things from a relative nobody from the Parit. Wait, I meant the MP from Parit Sulong. And with ZERO evidence to boot. Hey, since you’re such a responsible Muslim man, why don’t you prevent the influence of other religions in this country by destroying the churches and temples in Malaysia? Oh wait, I forgot, we are already doing that, aren’t we?

Then the joker from Sri Gading just had to pitch in with his 2 cents, and says that he knows some parent who claimed that the school was not closed during Hari Raya. I guess when UMNO scheduled their General Assembly during Deepavali, that’s ok right? The message to us Malaysians is: If it doesn’t concern Islam, I don’t want to know about it.
The people we vote into Parliament sometimes, eh? Anyway, ZERO evidence of such a thing happening. It’s like me saying that I heard from my friend’s brother’s sister-in-law who claimed that she saw a hantu susu before. Therefore, it must be true! Right…

Then Mr. Taliban from Parit Sulong is telling everyone that these Christian statues and crosses need to be destroyed. I guess Mr. Taliban was sleeping when Badawi addressed the UMNO General Assembly just a mere few weeks ago on religious sensitivities.

These missionary schools have educated countless number of law-abiding citizens and luminaries that contribute immensely to the country and society. Certainly, these citizens have contributed more to this country than those MPs from Sri Gading and Parit Sulong have, and ever will. This nation does not need morons like these to represent us in Parliament. Say ‘tak nak’ to morons.

Mohamad bin Haji Aziz and Syed Hood say the darndest things!


A comment from among the many readers of the post:

November 24, 2007

Okay, first off this is complete and TOTAL BULLSHIT.

I am a Muslim and obviously a Malay woman. I went to SRK Convent Klang and then SMK Convent Klang. And everything those two ******* idiots said is completely false and unfounded.

My school was originally named the ‘St. Infant Jesus Christ Convent’ back when the Brits were around and when they left, the nuns stayed on. Of course the teaching evolved and when I went into Form 1 (year 1999), there was only one nun left.

What used to be the church in the school have been converted to the main hall. What used to be the altar where people worship, there was a stage build over. There was no more statues of Jesus Christ anywhere though on the wall where the small ones used to hang, one can see the outline of it due to years of it hanging there. Then when they repainted the school, it was gone.

There is still a big cross at the front of the school, no one ever found the reason to complain. Its part of our British/Malaya heritage anyways. When I was in school we never sang any “church songs” during the assembly. We did “baca doa” then after that in rotation of weeks another prefect will read the Christian prayers, then another week Hindu prayers and another week Buddhist while students who are not of that religion will stand in silence of respect.

I never view this as a part of pushing another religion onto my beliefs. I was never offended by it. Its just the way it is.

Then bout the school not closing during Raya….I am not even going to comment on that because that is BEYOND stupid. We do however have holidays on Good Fridays because Convent does have Christian traditions and there’s nothing offensing my Muslim “sensibilities” when I was given Friday off. The more day offs, the better is is. You get no complaints from any sane student.

Convent schools all over Malaysia are significant part of our British/Malaya history and having been part of the Convent life, I find it very offensive and incrediblly stupid of them to make such statements.

Religion is a set of beliefs. You choose what to belief. Just because you think your religion is better than other people does not give you the right to condemn and push your religion onto other people. Stupid ******* politicians.

Klaw: Well said. I like how your school helped promote diversity and respect for other religions by rotating the “baca doa” for different religions.



(My three children were educated in SRK and SMK Convent and they are the better for it. I have never heard them say there were forced to sing hymns or listen to Christian prayers. On the other hand, in all national schools, the 'baca doa' or the Muslim prayer is compulsory in all gatherings and assemblies. That much we can say about the tolerant nature of non-Muslims. There are Malay parents who have specifically requested for their children to be put in Convent schools for the simple reason that they are multi-racial).

The Indian Problem

I don't pretend to know much about the Indian problem, but I'll add my two cents' worth. The recent rally was a wake-up call to all Malaysians to take note of the serious problems that plague the Indian community. It was a bold public expression of discontent, of sufferings and deprivations, of desperation. Some would call it stupid, insensitive, a threat to national security. It is not the Malaysian way of solving problems. Some would say, surely there are avenues for them to channel their grouses to? The sole Indian Minister in the coalition government branded them "trouble makers".

Some even questioned the use of the acronym 'HINDRAF' for Hindu Rights Action Force. Why not INDRAF or Indian Rights Action Force? Why did they turn it into a purely Hindu problem? But the fact is the Indian community is fractured by different religious denominations within the community and the caste system, a relic of the past that still influences the way Indians relate to each other. But the estate Indians and the urban poor, who are overwhelmingly Hindus are the ones who felt that they have been victimised and trampled on.

Why did they petition the Queen, and not the Agung to help them? Isn't this like shooting themselves in the foot, or rather the mouth?

Demonstrators who brought their children and wives to the rally were accused of endangering them as nobody could predict how a volatile crowd would behave. But it was largely a peaceful rally, with Mahatma Gandhi's pictures held aloft to show the world their peaceful intention.

As a columnist from "the star" said, in the final analysis, the Indians have to help themselves, as nobody is going to help them. In other words, there is no free lunch in this world. But he seems to have forgotten that long term affirmative actions by the government have considerably improved the lives of Malays.

For those who were arrested and charged, the Bar Council has sought lawyers to provide legal aid to help them.


Scenes at the Batu Caves temple
(Photo credits: Malaysia Today)





Tuesday, 27 November 2007

HINDRAF - Champion or Demagogue?

One of the pressing issues that has incensed the Indian community the most and which Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) have been most vocal in voicing out is the demolition of their temples throughout the country. As more and more agricultural land succumb to the bulldozer for housing and commercial purposes, custodians of temples that were built on these primarily private properties have been given notice to relocate. It is often not the relocation that the Indian community is against, but the wanton manner in which temples are demolished and deities broken that fans the fire of discontent. Temples that are a hundred years old or more are not spared the bulldozer either if they stand in the way of 'development'. There is also an instance of a temple that has been forcibly demolished and relocated next to a sewerage plant in Kampung Medan.

According to rajeev2004.blogspot.com, "from 22.2.2006 to 13.6.2007 (about one year and four months) Hindraf have recorded 79 Hindu temples to have been unlawfully, unconstitutionally and with impunity demolished, given notice to be demolished, burnt down, relocated next to sewerage tanks, deities removed etc". In the year 2006 alone, Hindraf claimed that 68 temples were demolished (www.bangkit.net).

It is evident from the thousands of Indians who
had turned up to support the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday that the Indian community, or at least the poor, have been disillusioned with the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress, a partner in the coalition government) and had turned to Hindraf to champion their cause. Undoubtedly, MIC would have to have to sit up and urgently take note of how a fledgling organization could galvanize some 30,000 Indians to converge at the city capital to publicize their plight.


The demolition of the 100 year old Sri Maha Mariamman temple
in Shah Alam


video

The Hindraf Rally: The Indian Perspective

This edited account is taken from: www.indianmalaysian.com


On Sunday, the people - almost all from the Hindu community - responded impressively by taking part in the rally which attracted an estimated 30,000 from all over the country.

Hindraf [Hindu Rights Action Force] has tapped the anger within the community, and it was shown by those who participated in the rally and the thousands of others who were prevented by the police from entering Kuala Lumpur.

This was a crowd which is angry with the way Indian Malaysians are being treated. They are fed-up with being downtrodden. They are frustrated with being treated as third-class citizens in their own country.

So, they had no hesitation about accepting Hindraf’s invitation to come to Kuala Lumpur to express their anger despite the prior warnings issued by the police and political leaders - and in defiance of a restraining order that could see them jailed for contempt of court.

As many told Malaysiakini, the most recent demolition of a Hindu temple in Klang was the catalyst for their presence.


'Hear our voice’


Many of the protesters were out-of-towners. They have been deprived of a forum and the opportunity to say their piece. Many are also MIC [Malaysian Indian Congress) supporters, now with full regret that the only Indian-based party in the Barisan Nasional [the ruling coalition] has been helpless in stopping temple demolitions.

“This is the end. We have come here to protest against how the government treats us. They can beat us today. They can put us in prison. We don’t care. We want to tell the government that we are fed up,” said 52-year-old S Aiyakannu from Old Klang Road.

His son Palani led a three-bus convoy from up north.

“For us, it is like a life or death situation. If our voice is heard today, good. Otherwise, this frustrated community will have to show that we can’t be taken for a ride at all times,” he added.



“We have had enough of this bad treatment. They (government) can’t push us any lower. This is the limit. I am not here to support Hindraf’s suit against the UK government but I want to be here to show my anger,” said K Suresh from Sungai Petani.

The majority of the crowd was well-behaved, showing expected grit in the face of the heavy police presence and eventual use of water cannon and tear gas.

Every time they were sprayed with chemical-laced water and tear gas, they retreated only to come forward, in a bigger number.

Many carried posters of Mahatma Gandhi to symbolise their pacifist stand, and carried none of the banners and posters usually associated with political rallies.



Eyewitnesses say that reports of protesters hurting the police are exaggerated. In most spots, it was the other way round with the protesters taking the brunt of tear gas and chemical-laced water.



While no one disputes that police response had initially been restrained, the kid gloves came off the moment they started arresting the protesters for breaching the court order that banned the rally. Some were dragged along the road and hurled into waiting police trucks.



Even as they were being arrested, many submitted without resistance or complaint. One old man was heard saying that he was proud to be arrested over a cause for his community.

Similar sentiments were heard when the protesters were hit with water and tear gas.

“We are people who work hard to live. We don’t work in air-conditioned offices like the Kuala Lumpur people. We work under the sun and rain. We are hardy. Let them hit us with anything. We will stand still,” said Raman, a bus driver from Batang Berjuntai, Selangor.




Wake-up call

One thing is sure. This was not a political protest. This was a protest against the marginalisation of the Indian community. It was a case of the community hitting the streets because they have no where else to take their entrenched problems.

The show of force must surely be a wake-up call, not just for the community but also for MIC and the government.

Government leaders and the police can insist that the gathering was illegal but an overwhelming people power proved on Sunday that sentiments on the ground should not be neglected.

The Hindraf rally was the second mass protest this month - after the Bersih [Coalition for Fair and Clean Elections] rally on Nov 10 - and the third if we include the lawyers’ ‘Walk for Justice’ in Putrajaya last month.


Photo credits

www.flickr.com
Reuters






Monday, 26 November 2007

Demonstrations In Malaysia

Recently, peace-loving Malaysians have been rudely awakened from their political slumber by a series of demonstrations or rallies that were held to highlight disaffection with the government's actions or inactions. Malaysians have not witnessed such large scale demonstrations in more than a decade.


8 September 2007

MALAYSIAN police shot and wounded two protesters and arrested 23 others in Terengganu as violence broke out at a rally for a free and fair election. Investigation is being carried out to find out why the police discharged their firearms.


26 September 2007

About 800 Malaysian lawyers marched on to the prime minister's office to demand reforms to the country's judiciary after a scandal broke out over allegations of political interference in the appointment of judges.


Lawyers marching to the Palace of Justice



Lawyers gathering at the Palace of Justice




Lawyers registering their protest over the alleged lack of transparency in the appointment of judges.





In the wake of the scandal, the government set up a panel to determine the authenticity of the video clip in spite of calls to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry . However, in an about turn, it recently announced that it would form a commission to investigate the allegation.

10 November 2007

Police disrupted a rally in Kuala Lumpur by BERSIH, a coalition for clean and fair elections, which protested against the Election Commission's apparent lack of a mind of its own in ensuring a fair and just election process. The government accused opposition parties of inciting the masses to assemble illegally and threaten the peace.










25 November 2007

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) held a rally in Kuala Lumpur, forcing the police to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The rally was held to submit a petition to the British High Commission to prevail upon the British Government to protect the Indians who were first brought into the country as indentured labourers from alleged discriminatory treatment by the Malaysian Government.












A police officer hurt in the melee



The HINDRAF Rally

video


Many Indian organizations as well as others have loudly condemned the rally as an attempt to discredit the government as well the Malaysian Indian Congress, the dominant party representing the Indian community.


Photo credits:

Malaysia Today
www.flickr.com
BBC
the star


Video clip:

Aljazeera



Sunday, 25 November 2007

A Car for Muslims

A friend from the states recently sent this to me.



Sunday, 11 November 2007
Malaysian firm's 'Muslim car' plan






The Malaysian carmaker Proton has announced
plans to develop an "Islamic car", designed for Muslim motorists.

Proton is planning on teaming up with manufacturers in Iran and Turkey to create the unique vehicle.

The car could boast special features like a compass pointing to Mecca and a dedicated space to keep a copy of the Koran and a headscarf.

The idea came during a visit to the Middle East by a delegation of Malaysian politicians and businessmen.

Malaysian press reports say officials in Iran originally suggested the idea.

Safety features or fuel economy is one way of selling a car, but Proton thinks vehicles designed specifically for Muslims across the world represent a huge gap in the market.

Proton is the most dominant car on the streets here but the company has suffered recently after the government allowed more foreign cars to be imported.

The firm has been in talks recently with VW about a takeover by the German car giant.



Ming Castle Dim Sum

I have heard from those that have eaten there that the dim sum was good but pricey. The new dim sum establishment was opened about 8 months ago and it seems to have raised the benchmark for providing dim sum for the Batu Pahat people. The restaurant is air-conditioned, clean and comfortable. They serve a wide a variety of dim sum, but as there were only two of us, we ordered only a few dishes. Verdict: the dim sum were freshly made and the service was good. Of course you have to pay more to enjoy your dim sum in comfort.


The Ming Castle comprises two shoplots


The interior


A variety of dim sum; the char siu pao or buns were, according to my wife, comparable to the Kuala Lumpur famous "Kam Yong Tai" pao



The chee cheong fun with shrimp and char siu fillings



Fried dumplings with mayonnaise dip



Steamed shrimp dumpling




The location of Ming Castle



The North-south Highway

Travelling along the Malaysian highways amidst greenery and bluish distant rolling hills and mountains is a pleasant experience. Without the North-south Highway, it used to take 4 to 5 hours to get from Batu Pahat to Kuala Lumpur depending on the density of traffic. Now it takes about 3 hours within the legal speed limits. Some even make it in only two hours if they break the speed limits. This mega project of linking north and south and east and west with a modern system of highways has increased mobility and slashed travelling time by about 25% from one point to another, but at a cost. Toll increases have mounted, infuriating many a user of the highways, but users have an alternative: they need not take the highways as they could still use the old roads to reach their destinations, but it would take them longer. The other would be to travel by bus. Long distance travel by bus is cheap and comfortable. In the past there used to be only one bus from Batu Pahat to Kuala Lumpur and one down from KL to BP, but now there are roughly 8 trips in a day to the capital city.



Highways of Malaysia: beautfiful road condition and scenic beauty



The recently expanded stretch of the highway near Seremban: from two lanes to three lanes to ease congestion during peak hours



The signboard showing the exit point to the new administrative centre of the country, Putrajaya



It used to be that in a paroxysm of national pride, the government decreed that only the Malay language could be used on signboards. Later this requirement was relaxed somewhat and languages other than the official language could be included, albeit in less prominent form in deference to the Malay language. Now, it seems, the authorities have closed one eye as signboards in English dot the highways.








Traffic congestion is a common sight on Saturdays and holidays even as the concessionaires continue to expand the highways



Approaching the city: skyline punctuated with high rise buildings


Frequent users of the highways are waiting anxiously for the next round of toll increase although the quantum of the increase has not been announced. While users may rant and curse at the impending increase, they can choose not to use the highways.