In my Deepavali message last year, I had expressed the hope that the 2000 Deepavali - "Festival of Light" - could summon forth the national will to declare the marginalisation of Malaysian Indians and the socio-economic, educational and cultural grievances of the community as a form of "darkness" to be conquered by Malaysians of all races and faiths and be the start of the restoration of light and justice to Malaysian Indians.
Unfortunately, such a call has not been heard or answered and the darkness continues to envelop the land. The past twelve months have seen the further marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians as to confirm their new underclass status in the country - manifested by the Kampung Medan tragedy in March this year which claimed the lives of six persons with 78 others severely injured.
The marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians was highlighted in the recent budget debate in Parliament. Although the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad referred to the Kampung Medan tragedy when he presented the 2002 Budget in Parliament on October 19, 2001, no Minister or MP had touched on it during the 11-day policy debate.
There is no more powerful illustration that when a community is marginalised, its sufferings even in the form of the worst riots in Malaysian history in the past three decades, are easily forgotten - by Parliament and the nation!
Unless there is a great sense of urgency, the marginalisation fo the Malaysian Indian community will get from bad to worse. The Census 2000 report released last Wednesday showed that out of a 23.27 million population, Indians only comprised 7.7%, a drop of 0.2% in the last 10 years - while the bumiputras and Chnese stood at 65.1% and 26.6% respectively. In the past ten years, the bumiputra population went up by 4.5% while that of the Chinese dropped by 2.1%.
Voices have been raised in the Barisan Nasional expressing concern that non-Malay political parties may have to close down if the Chinese and Indian population continue to dwindle, as the population of the two races would be so small as to be irrelevant - with one forecast estimating the Indian population at 5% in 20 years and two or one-and-a-half per cent in 40 years.
Let Malaysians Hindus as well as all Malaysians regardless of race unite on the occasion of the Deepavali this year to combat and overcome the “darkness” in the Malaysian society, particularly the marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians whether because of poverty, economic injustice, educational deprivation, social degradation and other forms human rights violations.
As a 2001 Deepavali resolution, I will meet with the MIC Chairman and
Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu to suggest an all-out national
war against the “darkness” suffered by the Malaysian Indian community,
with particular reference to four specific issues: