(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): Recently, TIME magazine carried an article about the Malaysian Indians, describing them as a "disgruntled underclass" with many of them feeling like "third-class citizens" in the country and the "real losers" since the introduction of the New Economic Policy 30 years ago.
The 1.8 million people of Indian descent, representing eight per cent of the 22 million Malaysian population, have the lowest share of the nation's corporate wealth: 1.5%, compared to 19.4% for the Malays and 38.5% for the Chinese.
The Time article continued:
During the Royal Address debate in Parliament in April 1992, for instance, I called on the Barisan Nasional government to "hear the cry of despair and hopelessness of the Malaysian Indians" as a result of increasing sense of alienation because of the following reasons:
The Malaysian Indians:-
This call was more than eight years ago. Have the position of the Malaysian Indians improved appreciably or has it worsened further. Unfortunately, the latter is the answer as the Barisan Nasional government and Cabinet have not yet heeded or heard the cry of despair and hopelessness of the Malaysian Indians at their alienation and marginalisation from the mainstream of the development process.
The socio-economic, educational, cultural and political marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians, threatening to turn them into into an underclass in the country, is not just an Indian problem but must be regarded as a national problem and the responsibility of all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, to grapple and resolve.
As a first step to break the back of the problem of the marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians in the country, a Royal Commission of Inquiry comprising multi-ethnic representation of eminent and respected Malaysians should be established to ensure that they do not end up as an underclass, proposing a blueprint to reinstate them in the mainstream of Malaysian development.
The battle for the Malaysian Indians to take their rightful place in the mainstream of development is an integral part of the battle for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance - a cause which V. David had dedicated his entire life struggle of over four decades in his political and trade union battle for the downtrodden, whether the workers, the Indian community or the oppressed regardless of race or religion in Malaysia.
The best way to pay tribute to V. David, who belongs to the ranks of the nation's freedom fighters way back to pre-Merdeka, is for Malaysians to commit and rededicate themselves to bring about fundamental reforms in the Malaysian political system where justice, freedom, democracy and good governance occupy topmost priority in the national agenda.