The Indians–Malaysia’s Forgotten People

Nove,ber 11, 2012

The Indians–Malaysia’s Forgotten People

by Ranjit Singh Malhi (11-10-12) @

I refer to Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s recent invitation to Indian groups to meet with the Government and discuss the grievances of the Malaysian Indian Community.

Let’s face the stark reality and look for permanent and holistic solutions to the problems plaguing the Indian Community. The Indian Community which forms about 7 per cent of our nation’s population does rightfully feel alienated and frustrated.

Indeed, one can argue that the Indian Community over the last few decades has become in N. J. Colleta’s words, “Malaysia’s forgotten people.” I would add that the community’s position has been reduced to that of a “footnote” in our school history textbooks which scantly acknowledge their contribution towards the economic development of our nation.

The problem of the marginalised Indian community, particularly of the more than 300,000 displaced plantation workers must be viewed as a grave national problem which must be tackled immediately with a sense of urgency and sincerity.

The Indian community is plagued by a number of problems besides poverty, low self-esteem and having the lowest share of the nation’s corporate wealth. It has the highest number of gangsters, prisoners, drug addicts, alcoholics, suicide rate and single mothers in proportion to population. Indians commit about 50 per cent of our nation’s serious crimes and record the highest percentage of deaths whilst under police custody. Indians also have the lowest life expectancy rate among the major races.

In all fairness, the Government has recently undertaken certain initiatives to alleviate the problems faced by the Indian community such as increasing the number of seats for Indian matriculation students, promising one hundred scholarships for top Indian students and approving myKad for over 4,000 Indian Malaysians.

Such initiatives are definitely steps in the right direction but they do not address the basic problems faced by the community. Much more needs to be done for the Indian community such as enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in Tamil schools, allocating increased seats in institutions of higher learning, creating adequate job and business opportunities, providing appropriate skills training, and introducing land settlement schemes.

The Government should bear in mind that our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Indian community for their invaluable contribution before Merdeka. It was Indian labour (mainly South Indians) that was the backbone of the rubber industry and primarily responsible for opening up much of what is today West Malaysia with their sweat, blood and tears.

Rubber was the chief export of Malaya for several decades beginning from 1916. Indian labour was also primarily responsible for building the roads, railways and bridges besides constructing ports, airports and government buildings. Virtually every mile of railway track which totalled over 1,000 miles and about 6,000 miles of metalled main roads and several hundred miles of tertiary roads by 1957 were built by Indian labour. As aptly stated by Muzaffar Tate, “The Public Works Department was an Indian preserve.”

A little known fact is that hundreds of thousands of Indians died in developing modern Malaya. According to the 1957 Federation of Malaya Census Report, much of the 1.2 million net Indian immigration to Malaya between 1860-1957 appears to have been wiped out by disease, snake bites, exhaustion and malnutrition. In the words of Michael R. Stenson, “… South India provided an indispensable tribute of human lives without which the European owned plantation industry in Malaya could not have been established.”

To conclude, our nation owes a debt of gratitude to Malaysian Indians for their valuable past contribution in nation building, particularly in opening up the malarial and sparsely populated jungle for commercial agriculture which formed the backbone of the country’s economy until 1980. The Government is morally obliged to initiate significant and long lasting measures aimed at vastly improving the economic and social well being of the Indian Community.


14 thoughts on “The Indians–Malaysia’s Forgotten People

  1. Mahathir did not do enough for his own people. He relied on Samy Velu who sapued everything including Telekom Malaysia shares intended for the Indian community. So the Indian community have to depend on political activism so their rights are not ignored. Hindraf came to their rescue in 2007, leading the first street protest in Kuala Lumpur. Now the Indians are conscious of their rights and will take to the streets if necessary.

    Nazri knows that Indian votes are critical to UMNO-BN in the next elections. Najib too is very concerned since every single vote will count if he is to remain Prime Minister. Maybe it is a little too late in the day as most Indians are now supporting Pakatan Rakyat.

  2. Politics Indian-Style is alive and well. If we are not careful we may accquire the style and the substance of Indian politics. Certain politicians past and present have and are playing a dangerous game which is against the culture of the Malaysian people and its politics introduced by our founding fathers.

  3. It all boils down to Al Kutty’s refusal to identify himself with the Indians although he is a part of them. Had he proclaimed himself an Indian rather than trying hard to be a Melayu tulin, which he is not, the Indian problems would be non-existent and Samy Velu would just be a low-paid clerk. He would be gone by now.

    MIC has done virtually nothing for the Indian community besides sucking up to Umno for some crumbs. And they are still doing so today.

  4. True enough most indians are supporting Pakatan especially those who are Christians. BN only remembers this minority race during election times,so therefore indian rakyat must know by now where they stand and not fall into temporary promises!

  5. Just blame it on Samy Vellu. I just cannot understand, year in and year out he is the elected President of MIC, unlike Najib, he is yet to be an elected PM.

    Indian community have themselves to blame for giving power to Samy Vellu, year in, year out. Have the super rich Indian done enough for their own community, namely Ananda Krishnan, Tony Fernandes, Vinod Sekhar, Ralph Marshall etc etc… er…. Samy Vellu again.

    It puzzles me.
    The wealthy are same, be they Malay, Chinese or Indian. Do you think Malay tycoons care about their poor country cousins? It is the duty of the government to ensure social justice.–Din Merican

  6. If the Indians are considered “Malaysia’s forgotten people.” what term should we call the Siamese in Malaysia.

    We have no political party, no chamber of commerce, no language school, no….no…..nothing.

    My blood brother Mongkut also running away. The only dear friend i have is the kerbau…

  7. ” Maybe it is a little too late in the day “, yes Ahmadi, but not a ” maybe ” & not a little too late,it’s so very very late,they could have solved Maika’s problem then perhaps,I say perhaps they can persuade the Indians to vote BN, but there’s too many smart Indian politicians in Bn to do any good except for their bank account….

  8. the umno-bn government has failed in its duty to care for this minority group miserably. to blame are the indian leaders as well, who like their malay and chinese counterparts in BN became power crazy and corrupted.
    unlike the chinese, the indian lower middle-class and lower were unprepared for the vagaries of urban life after many decades of protected plantation life.
    whatever their contributions to Malaya, they are not demanding for repayment but only pleading to be recognised as equal citizens in this modern and rich coountry. the quota system for scholarship, assistance to schools et etc, should be based on necessity and urgency for any one group rather than race based. the ultimate aim being to bring about an equal society.
    the import of cheap foreign labour was also instrumental in the marginalisation of them.
    whatever Najib and Co. do now is for the election only, after that it will be business as usual. if malaysians want real permanent change then they have to choose a fresh government.

  9. The partisan race based politics of Malaysia,is nothing more than the South African Apartheird that existed about two decades ago.

  10. Honestly I think for the GE, the Indian vote is going PR way. The Batu Cave condo fiasco just make Indian politicians a non factor in the coming GE.. Even Hindraf don’t have a choice but to back PR because they know Najib is helpless given how much he has wasted on Indian votes only to lose it at the eleventh’ hour – UMNO will not let him have any more rope after wasting so much. Truth be told, the Indians are helpless politically…

  11. I remember back in 2007 when I visited my cardiologist (who is an Indian himself) in a specialist centre in Penang, right after the HINDRAF street protest, and we spoke briefly about the plight of the Indians… and he said something that has remained in my mind since “we Indians have ourselve to blame… always hero-worshipping the wrong people including crooks who robbed us… and we also cannot help each other, professionals marry professionals, clerks marrry clerks, cowherd marry cowherd because of the caste system… how to uplift the social classes through inter-marriages?’

  12. Cakap apa ni. Orang India lebih ramai jutawan berbanding orang Melayu walaupun mereka golongan minoriti. Di Damansara Heights dan Bangsar, tengok sajalah punya ramai India yang membeli rumah. Umpamanya Tony Fernandes, Dato Ak. Nathan, Bernard chandran dan Dato’ Eswaran. Nathan umpamanya telah pindah uomarket ke Damansara dari Kepong. Di bawah Najib India dapat bermacam-macam berbanding dengan orang Melayu di kampung. Sambutan perayaan bagi berbagai kaum seperti Malyalee dan Tamil umpamanyapun mereka mendapat duit.dan pengiktirafan.
    Ini boleh dijawab oleh Ayahanda Tun Dr.Mahathir, bapa kronisme kapitalis Malaysia.–Din

  13. Indians are not the only ones suffering from poverty & difficulties – there are many more Malays in the kampongs who are in no better conditions. Considering its minority in numbers, on the average the Indians are faring much better compared to the Malays.

  14. Mahathir should answer why Indians were wiped out of the Estates instead of giving land for all their years of hard work. Mahathir is a racist animal and not humane.

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