08 December 2007

Malaysia, truly asia

"But let us all note one thing at least: While the leaders and supporters of Hindraf may have resorted to the politics of race and religious-based communitarianism to further a specific goal in mind, we should not really be surprised if they had done so. This is Malaysia, remember: the same multi-culti country that has been run and governed by the same tired and worn-out coalition of ideologically bankrupt right-wing communitarian race and religious-based parties for half a century. Those fellow Malaysians who marched on Sunday are the children of a nation-building project that has failed utterly and miserably, and they merely reflect the racialised mindset of so many Malaysian politicians today who are no better.

So while we may disagree with the tone and tenor of Hindraf’s communitarian political-speak, let us not miss the wood for the trees. Hindraf did not invent racialised communitarian politics in Malaysia, it was the component of the Barisan Nasional parties that did, and continue to do so.
Hindraf did not begin a new trend of race and religious-based political association and collectivism in Malaysia: it was the older race and religious-based parties and movements like UMNO, PAS and ABIM that did, and continue to do so.

Hindraf did not invent the language of racial and religious identification in Malaysia, for these terms were already hoisted on them and the minority communities of Malaysia by the state, the mainstream media and the conservative reactionary forces in this country long ago. It was the politicians, political analysts, media commentators and communitarian activists who referred, for instance, to the Hindu temples of Malaysia as ‘Indian temples’; and who continue to refer to Malaysians of South Asian origin as ‘Indians’ or the ‘Indian community’.

For the information of all and sundry, those temples that were bulldozed were not ‘Indian temples’ but Malaysian temples, built on Malaysian soil, frequented by Malaysians, paid for by Malaysians and they were part of the Malaysian landscape. There are no ‘Indian Temples’ in Malaysia- Indian temples exist in India and if you don’t believe me then fly to India and check them out yourself. Likewise the only ‘Indians’ in Malaysia are the tourists, expats and workers who come from India and happen to be Indian nationals bearing Indian passports. Those Hindus who marched in the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday happen to be Malaysians like you.

For the sake of the Hindu Malaysians, and all other minority communities in this country, one hopes that such simple ground rules and facts would be borne in mind as we try our hardest to win back this country for all of us, the Malaysian people themselves. The gallery of amateurs who make up today’s government may bemoan the fact that significant sections of the Malaysian public have lost all confidence and trust in the system that they have helped to create, but no amount of spin can alter the fact that the Hindraf demo was a symptom of what has gone wrong in this country.

If Hindraf is to be accused of communitarianism and exclusivism in its politics, then we need only to look at the mould from which it emerged: a cauldron of racialised, divisive and exclusive politics that clearly bears the made-in-Malaysia stamp, a symptom of the ills of our times and the failure of the state."

Farish A Noor


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