High-handed police action at
Hindraf rally – Indian Diaspora reacts
2008 Budget Debate Speech
by Lim Kit Siang
Monday’s press carried reports
and photographs of a foreign woman tourist in the Kuala Lumpur centre on
Sunday who was the victim of indiscriminate police tear gas attacks which
aggravated her asthmatic condition.
In the era of globalization, the earth has become a global village and it
is impossible for Malaysia to disregard international reactions to local
events if we are to enhance our international competitiveness whether in
attracting tourists or foreign investors.
Peaceful demonstrations do not scare tourists. It is high-handed police
actions and the mishandling of peaceful demonstrations as happened with
regard to the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday which drives away
tourists and investors.
For example, in countries with a very flourishing tourist industry like
the United Kingdom, Australia and United States, peaceful demonstrations
are quite common and do not have any effect in scaring away tourists.
During question time this morning, I had asked the Parliamentary Secretary
to the Foreign Ministry, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik whether there had been
adverse reactions from the Indian Diaspora or whether the Ministry is
expecting any from the police mishandling of the Hindraf rally.
Although Ahmad Shabery replied in the negative, the truth is otherwise.
The Indian media have reported adverse reactions to the government
handling of the Hindraf demonstration – media like Hindu India, Hindustan
Times India, Times of India, CNN-IBN India, Zee News India, News Today
India, and The Tribune India.
Malaysiakini has the following report:
“Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh has been urged to take immediate action concerning the
state of the Indians in Malaysia.
“The premier’s intervention was sought by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M
Karunanidhi and other politicians in the state following the mass rally
held on Nov 25 in Kuala Lumpur.
“According to the Hindu newspaper, Karunanidhi
wrote to Manmohan on Tuesday asking him to employ the necessary measures
regarding the “sufferings and bad treatment” of Tamils in Malaysia.
“Karunanidhi said the people of Tamil Nadu were disturbed over the
happenings in Kuala Lumpur.”
If Malaysia is to optimize our
potential to attract world tourists to Malaysia, the country and
government must be prepared to adopt the best international practices on
democracy, human rights, accountability and good governance.
This morning, DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng and I were at the
Selayang magistrate’s court where some 50 people were waiting to be
charged for an illegal assembly in connection with the Hindraf
Yesterday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri
Nazri Aziz labeled the Hindraf demonstrators as “penyangak” when he said:
“Some 20,000 penyangak
(crooks) who participated in the rally would not jeopardise our viewpoint
of the entire community.”
The people I met at Selayang
Court awaiting to be charged for an illegal assembly in connection with
the Hindraf rally on Sunday are mostly respectable and law-abiding
Malaysian citizens, business people, technicians, contractors, clerks and
even executive and management officers.
How can Nazri call them “penyangak” which according to Kamus Dewan means
Nazri should apologize for his language in condemning the 30,000 decent
and respectable people from all over the country to peacefully and
collectively express their cry of desperation for justice as Malaysian
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman