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Malaysia Unity In Diversity Still A Dream (Malaysia)

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Unity in the country is under threat, no doubt about that. Too many instances where the Indians have been disrespected have occurred, be it the “Interlok” novel issue, the remark by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the Malays own this country and the insensitive mischief played on a Sikh male participant undergoing national service training.

In the case of “Interlok”, in spite of objections from the Indian community on the use of the book for Form Five Malay literature students, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, declared the novel safe to be read, provided alterations are done here and there to make it seem less offensive to the Indians.

Muhyiddin’s refusal to get the novel replaced has sent a clear message home to the Indians that they will continue to be taken for granted by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. That being the case, the ball then is in the court of the Indian community which has to carefully decide whether BN is worthy of their votes in the coming general election.

With Interlok depicting Indians in poor taste, the government, despite all the pleas from this community, decided it knows best. If this was the case, why fake concern and ask for input from the Indian community on the Interlok issue?

At no point did the Indians threaten or blackmail the government into removing the novel from the Form Five syllabus. The Indian representatives were diplomatic enough in requesting that Interlok not be made a literary subject due to the insensitivities found in the book.

Instead of understanding the anxieties of this community, the Malay rights umbrella group Malay Consultative Council (MPM) declared it will deny the Indian leaders support in the next general election because these leaders had bamboozled the government into making a decision on Interlok.

It is pathetic that MPM and National Writers’ Association (Pena) have shown how racist they are – accusing the Indian community representatives of distorting and pressuring the government to favour them where Interlok is concerned. This allegation is a clear lie and one that smacks of double standards.

Should MPM decide to withdraw support for Indian leaders like M Saravanan, who is Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Deputy Minister and P Kamalanathan, Hulu Selangor MP, it should be on the basis of the duo’s performances as the people’s representatives – “people” here encompassing all races, not solely the Indians.

If both Saravanan and Kamalanathan have not served the people, then by all means they do not deserve to be people’s representatives in the future.

1Malaysia not sincerely applied

When there is no sincerity in undertaking a task, the result will be disastrous. And this is happening with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia branding which, in all truthfulness, is nothing but his bait at winning public votes.

The fact that Muhyiddin failed to empathise with the Indians has given rise to the worry that there is no place for the Indians to turn to for help. The government’s refusal to compromise has put it in a bad light as far as the Indians are concerned.

Would the government have reacted in the same way if the issue concerned the Malays? The answer is obvious. But what remains unanswered is, why discriminate the Indians of this country time and again?

Najib goes about saying 1Malaysia is all about unity in diversity. He, however, has failed to translate this textbook theory into reality. Unity between people of different races in this country is still a dream, one which requires sincere hard work to turn it into reality.

To make sure people of various races in this country are united, the government has to stop playing politics and focus on its responsibility of governing this country without any prejudice. Do not disrespect the non-Malays by treating them as outsiders and blatantly ignoring their basic right to lead a life free from biasness.

Recently, Mahathir told an audience that the non-Malays must swallow the fact that Malaysia belongs to the Malays. His justification was that since this country was once called Tanah Melayu, its rightful owners are the Malays. A warped way of trying to stake claim over this land and a highly irresponsible allegation coming from a former leader of a nation.

Mahathir claims this country belongs to the Malays. Article 153 of the Federal Constitution assures the Bumiputera of their privileges. Those who question Malay rights will be dealt with severely. In short, there is nothing in this country that makes the non-Malays feel welcomed, yet the Indians and Chinese call it their home. Mahathir should take the trouble to ponder why.

Diverse and divided

Malaysia is home to a diverse race of people. At the same time, its people are also divided, with the Malays going about threatening the Indians and Chinese should the non-Malays question Malay rights and privileges. The special treatment accorded by Article 153 has divided Malaysians, with the Malays become arrogant and the non-Malays angry at the second-class treatment accorded them.

In this light, the government’s move to keep Interlok a literary subject has raised questions as to its agenda for doing so. There is no denying the fact that the Indian community’s plight has been dismissed by Muhyiddin and this has irked the Indians.

The government has also shown no concern over an incident last month where the hair of a male Sikh participant at the national service camp in Penang was snipped while he was asleep. Neither Najib nor Muhyiddin viewed this incident with grave concern and made no effort to apologise to the boy’s family and to the Sikh community.

Too many insults have been heaped upon the Indian community. The Indians were humiliated when a group of angry Malays killed a cow and severed its head which they later spat and stepped on. The Malays are well aware that the cow is considered sacred by the Hindus yet they went ahead and behaved in such a crude manner.

What made it all the worse was when Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein defended the actions of these Malays when he knew they had insulted the Indian community.

If this is how the BN has decided to behave with the non-Malays, it is not wrong to assume that come the 13th general election, the BN does not deserve the Indian community’s votes. BN will reap what it sowed.

Indeed, it is Najb’s folly if he thinks the RM35 million investment to “make over” Brickfields, the “Little India” of Kuala Lumpur, will endear him to the Indians. It is also a mistake for Najib to feel assured of support from the Indian community through his promise of providing a cable car facility at the Hindu temple in Batu Caves.

Where the Indian community is concerned, they want to be heard, not seen. They also want BN to stop taking them for granted, faking interest just to grab the Indian votes.

There is a saying that “you can fool some people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time” and should BN continue with its discriminating attitude, the loss will solely be its. After all, there is only so much and so far the BN government can fool the Indian community and take it for a ride.


Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004

Islamisation in national schools going overboard

Not that this is unknown or new. However, as a parent, I found it quite disturbing that the Islamisation of national schools has reached an alarming state. Allow me to give you a first-hand insight. We had enrolled our daughter at a national school in Bandar Sri Damansara for Primary 1.

What was supposed to be an eagerly anticipated 'graduation' into formal schooling turned out to be a worrying scenario that has caused us to rethink our future in this country as well as our plans for our kids.

We had, of course, heard of the instances of the growing Islamic influence in national schools and some horror stories to go along with it. But perhaps we underestimated the level of abuse that was occurring.

Orientation was conducted on Jan 2 and the very first horror story to greet us was that all children were required to attend Arab language classes. Don't get me wrong. I am of the opinion that learning a foreign language is beneficial.

However, in this case, rather than it coming across as such, the exercise smells of propaganda and a subtle attempt to reinforce Islamic principles on us - Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We insisted to the school that our children be exempt from the class. What perplexed us the most was the lack of options presented for non-Muslim students.

When we inquired, the response from the school was that there were no teachers for other languages, namely Mandarin or Tamil. Also, we were told that the children need not worry about the Arab classes as it was purely language and there were no elements of religion in it - something that we came to discover was not true.

This became apparent when this morning one of the parents chanced upon the Arab language teacher in class. Prior to starting the lesson, the teacher made all the students rise and lift their hands to recite the 'bismillah' prayer and other chants. There was no attempt to inform the non-Muslim students that they did not need to do so.

Just imagine, these are impressionable seven-year-olds just out of kindergarten. The fact that there was no regard for the rights of the non-Muslim kids by these teachers was just unbelievable!

One would easily be tempted to think that this was part of a bigger plan to influence non-Muslim children into embracing Islamic way of life.

This should not be happening in national schools.

There was more to come. Not only was it necessary for the children (Muslims) to start off the assembly with an Islamic prayer, the teachers also made it a point to enforce this before and after recess.

The students would be ushered out of the classrooms and be made to line up prior to visiting the canteen.

But just before that, the 'bismillah' prayer is recited (again there were no attempts to inform the non-Muslims that they were not required to do so) and once recess is over, the Muslim students are again required to recite another prayer.

All this is done together with the non-Muslim students.

Would this not confuse a child that is eager to learn and yet be constantly reminded that they should not do this and that?

There are a lot more examples but I just wanted to highlight the crux of the matter. I just cannot comprehend the need for all this when, at national schools it is sound education and growth of the children that matters.

The religious needs are already met by the agama/moral studies classes, so why the need for Arab classes? What is the objective of these programmes?

Why is there no proper alternative for those who do not practice Islam?

What scares me the most is that this is being practiced or implemented at the national level.If this is the case, then why talk of national integration and a new education blueprint? How can you achieve this with so many divisive policies?

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I just hope that common sense will prevail - but as they say, common sense is not so common after all.

The school later did accede to our request to have the children segregated during Arab classes, but after having one too many encounters with the lackadaisical attitude of the teachers, we are not convinced.

Also read all comments at the Original link given above this article.
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