The book “Tragic Orphans – Indians in Malaysia” eloquent testimony of the failure of Vision 2020 of a Bangsa Malaysia

Dr. Carl Vadivella Belle’s new book “Tragic Orphans – Indians in Malaysia” is timely as it is the most eloquent testimony of the failure of Vision 2020 of a Bangsa Malaysia.

In 1991, Vision 2020 spelt out nine strategic challenges which must be overcome if Vision 2020 of a fully developed nation is to be achieved – “a united nation, with a confident Malaysian society, infused by strong moral and ethical values - living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient”.

2020 is only five years away. What are the prospects of achieving the Vision 2020 of a fully developed nation?

In actual fact, we cannot even pass the first of these nine strategic challenges, which is “establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation”.

Can anyone remember when was the last time the Prime Minister or any Minister had talked about “Bangsa Malaysia”? The term “Bangsa Malaysia” has become a dirty term or unsanctioned aspiration.

Are we moving closer to the objective of a united Malaysia nation “with a sense of common and shared destiny”, “a nation at peace with itself… ethnically integrated living in harmony in full and fair partnership?

The opposite is in fact taking place with extremism, bigotry and intolerance rearing their ugly heads, aggravating both racial and religious polarisation in the country in recent years and threatening the very fabric of unity and harmony of a plural society.

Today, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah was moved to urge leaders to take a firm stand against extremists and reminding them that they cannot be “wishy-washy” about the matter.

Expressing sadness that extremist voices were growing louder, he said:

"The rabble-rousers, sabre-rattlers and bigots seem to be having a louder voice in politics and in the media. I do not think we are becoming less moderate.

"Perhaps, the extremists in our society are becoming louder and therein lies the danger.

"The political leadership has to take a firm stand against those espousing extreme views. We cannot be wishy-washy about it."

Tunku Sharifah Menjelara Hussein, the granddaughter of the founding Prime Minister of Malayia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, also said today that Tunku would not have compromised with racism and would have put a stop to the racial politics in the country if he were still alive.

I wish to correct Carl who said just now that in Malaysia, debate is shaped by race. It t is even worse than that, for debate in Malaysia is distorted by race – by issues which have nothing to do with ethnicity.

The best example is the Ismail Sabri episode – where he claimed that there was nothing wrong in his call to Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses, but in the “racially-slanted reaction” to his call. In other words, there was nothing wrong with his original statement and everything wrong to the “racist” reactions to his call to Malay consumers to boycott Chinese consumers.

The marvel is not Ismail’s insolence and arrogance in putting the blame of the Ismail Sabri episode on everybody else but himself, but that we have a Cabinet and a Prime Minister who could be bamboozled or coerced to accept such an outrageous and hypocritical justification.

I have been asking around among Malaysian Indians as to what they regard as the biggest problem faced by Indians in the country today.

Various answers have been offered, but high on the list is “Indian gangsterism”, which has become worse over the years, whether in the number of Indians involved; the dominance of Indians among the gangster population, criminals and the prisons; the infiltration into national secondary schools to haunt and hound the Indian students but also in the increasingly reckless and inhuman atrocities committed by the Indian gangsters against their victims – bearing comparison with the atrocities like chopping of limbs and beheadings now being committed by Islamic State.

The micro problem of Indian gangsterism is the result of the macro-problem of long-stand marginalisation of the Indian community over the decades which is in fact the greatest indictment of the Barisan Nasional nation-building policies of the past few decades.

Why have Indians in Malaysia ended up as “Tragic Orphans” – a fate afflicting not only their forefathers but increasingly the present generation as well.

Why do Indians feel alienated and marginalised?

Yesterday, I came another tragic tale of marginalisation and alienation of Malaysians.

I met someone who is returning to Malaysia for the Chinese New Year. This person worked in the Singapore office of Microsoft, which has some 400 workers, with 80 per cent of them Malaysians.

I cry for Malaysia why we cannot ensure that there is a place for our talented people in the country, who do not have to go overseas to seek an employment and remuneration commensurate with their training and talents?

Malaysian Indians’ historic contributions to the present-day Malaysia cannot be denied whether in plantation economy or infrastructure development in roads and railways.

There is also no scarcity of great Malaysian Indians who have distinguished themselves as Malaysian giants in various spheres of national endevavour, such as:

In Politics
Karpal Singh
V David
P Patto
Penang Deputy Chief Minister P. Ramasamy
Dr. Raj Kumar
Tun Sambanthan
Tan Sri Athi Nahappan
Seenivasagam brothers

Law/Judiciary/public services
R. Ramani – Malaysian Ambassador to UN/ President of UN Security Council
Tan Sri Edgar Joseph Jr (Federal Court Judge)
Tan Sri V C George (Court of Appeal judge)
Datuk Mahadev Shankar (Court of Appeal judge)
Tan Sri Visu Sinnadurai (High Court judge/Dean of Law Faculty)
Datuk Param Cumaraswamy
Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan
Tan Sri Rama Iyer
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam

Medicine and academia
Prof. T Danaraj
Prof S. Arasaratnam
Jomo Sundram

Letters and Journalism
Athi Kumanan – Makkal Osai
Janaki Raman

Trade Unions/ social activists
P.P. Narayan
Mrs. R. Bhupalan
Irene Fernandez

Dr. Mani Jegathasan
Punch Gunalan
M. Rajmani – sportswoman of the year

With such an illustrious list among Malaysians Indians who have rendered patriotic services (which is incomplete), how can anyone doubt the love, loyalty, commitment and patriotism of Malaysian Indians to Malaysia?

This makes an even larger number of Malaysians Indians ending up as “tragic orphans” after more than half a century of nationhood a real great national scandal!

In fact, we have reached a situation where there are not only large numbers of Malaysian Indians finding themselves as “tragic orphans” in Malaysia, their plight also applies to large numbers of Malays, Chinese, Kadazans, Ibans and Orang Asli in Malaysia – with more and more evidence that 45 years of New Economic Policy have led to even greater intra-ethnic inequality than inter-ethnic inequality.

There is an urgent need for a National Reconciliation regardless of race, religions or political beliefs, to save Malaysia from becoming a “failed state”, and one such principle must to ensure that no Malaysian ends up as a “tragic orphan” in Malaysia.

DAP is prepared to take part in this process of National Reconciliation involving political parties and the civil society – and the first thing that must be done in this National Reconciliation is to immediately free Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from his five year jail sentence in Sungai Buloh prison.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah