Archive for November 29th, 2007

Hindraf demo – BN Ministers and leaders should have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty

When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister on 30th October 2003, he made the famous pledge to “hear the truth, however unpleasant”, which he had infamously dishonoured in the past four years.

Recently, Abdulah’s pledge to “hear the truth” was ignomiously revised by the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin as applying only to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials but not to the media , the civil society or the ordinary Malaysian public!

In the past four years, however, Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders had been afflicted by the “Dare not speak the truth to Pak Lah” syndrome.

This has resulted in the least hands-on Prime Minister in the nation’s history but with the most Ministerial portfolios (trebling as Minister for Finance and Minister for Internal Security) setting a new record in Malaysian political history as a Prime Minister who has lost touch with the national pulse in the shortest time ever since assuming the highest political office of the land.

It is refreshing that in this ocean of distortions, half-truths and downright lies passing off as “truth”, Gerakan Penang State Executive Councillor, Dr. Toh Kin Woon has gloriously broken ranks in a letter to Malayaiakini yesterday declaring that it is the people’s “discontent and unhappiness that will be a greater threat to our country’s peace and stability, rather than the marches, pickets and demonstrations”.

I call on Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty to speak the truth to the Prime Minister whether about the “Walk for Justice” of 2,000 lawyers organized by the Bar Council for restoration of the independence and integrity of the judiciary; the 40,000-strong Bersih rally in support of electoral reforms for clean, free and fair elections; the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration on the socio-economic and cultural plight of the Malaysian Indians particularly the lower strata; or the numerous pickets by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and trade unions for higher salaries to meet rising costs of living so burdensome to the workers. Read the rest of this entry »


Hindraf, Communitarianism and the Made-In-Malaysia Dilemma

By Farish A.Noor

Well, well, well… . Now it appears as if the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. Following the less-than-welcomed but to-be-expected reaction from some Indian politicians and political parties in neighbouring India in the wake of the recent demonstration in Kuala Lumpur organised by the Malaysian Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), it would appear as if some of those who walk the corridors of power in Malaysia have gotten a little flustered and hot behind the ears. But are we really surprised by the global reaction that has come in the wake of the Hindraf rally, and should we be surprised if this spins into a regional, if not international issue that brings into the fray representative groups of the Indian global diaspora?

That the reaction of Hindu groups based in India was so fast should not be seen as novel by anyone. After all, similar reactions were seen when the Chinese minority were singled out in the bloody racial pogroms of Indonesia in 1998, when hundreds of Chinese homes and shops in cities like Jakarta were put to the torch by hordes of racist right wing Indonesians looking for a scapegoat to blame for the economic crisis on 1997-98. (The cause of which, we should remember, was the economic mismanagement and corruption of the Suharto regime between 1970 to 1998.) Then, as now, the minority that was persecuted and victimised turned to the global diaspora for help, and surely it came: Millions of Chinese from China to the United States join in a global campaign to defend the Chinese of Indonesia. Though what this did was offer only temporary respite for the victims of the race attacks then. What it really did was divide Indonesian society even further, pitting the Chinese against the indigenous Indonesians, and worse of all underlining the fiction that the Chinese were somehow a community distinct and apart that were ‘alien’ and ‘foreign’ to the norm. Sadly, what the reaction did was to add to the erasure of the long-term presence of the Chinese in the Indonesian archipelago, many of whom had been there for at least five generations and who were as Indonesian as the next person on the street…

Now to turn to what happened in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, we see some disturbing parallels at work: Read the rest of this entry »