Last Saturday (12/5/2011) I was invited as a guest speaker to a Tamil Bell club anniversary gathering in Chaah, Johor to honor all school achievers in that town. A number of UPSR, PMR and SPM students who got 5 A’s and above were honored and rewarded. It was a non political event therefore I should not speak politics but instead wanted to speak on the need and importance of political awareness. After the usual pleasantries and acknowledgements I started speaking on how politics affects our daily life and Tamil Schools.

I said that politics influence the syllabus of all other subjects taught in schools. The price of sugar, rice and other essentials are all political decisions. Wherever we go and hide the effects of political decisions will reach us. Politics affects everybody whether they are politicians or not. In Malaysia Indians were left far behind due to political considerations. Indians did not take politics serious and shun it saying that politics is cabbage and a dumpsite. So when good people keep away from politics thus creating vacuum for the undesirable elements to occupy high post and make everybody’s life miserable.  That’s what happened in MIC and other political parties. Like that I was going on in between quoting former Indian president Mr Abdul Kalam. After delivering nearly half of my speech the organizing committee chairman came up the stage and whispered that I am talking politics and that I should not speak politics. I rounded up the talk and stopped my speech. I am a guest speaker.

When I was speaking I saw the interest and the wanting on the audience’s face to listen to me. But the Tamil Mani Mandram (Tamil Bell Club) committee members were fretting and fuming that I have deviated into politics which is taboo topics. Actually I was talking about political awareness which is grossly lacking and the rural Indians are mostly politically naïve. If the Indian community can tolerate and support someone like Samy Velu for 32 years as their leader, we are not only ignorant but something wrong with us. There is a saying that we deserve what we get and we get what we deserve. Is it surprising that Malaysian Indians are totally marginalized?

The purpose of me writing this episode is that the audiences of about 1500 ordinary folks from a small town are not complaining of what I spoke. In fact I saw the enthusiasm and keenness of audience to listen to what is being said but some of the committee members were fritting and fuming about what is being said. Apparently they were very worried that the special branch officers present among the crowd will be upset with the talk and they will take action on them, not on me, for allowing me to speak politics. Police were not bothered but the committees members were so worried that the police would lodge report and that their future is gone. That much fear is in the hearts of large section of Indian community and their leaders. After 54 years of BN rule, we did not accumulate any wealth but we are full of fear especially the community leaders. It would be so easy for BN to contain and keep us under their fold. Rural Indians don’t have the financial stamina and strength to stand against the authority. They can be easily crushed. They need bold and trusted leadership which is terribly lacking in the Indian society. I was told that MIC leaders themselves use fear to keep rural folks under their thumb. MIC and other Indian BN components parties have wide network presence in rural areas. But over time MIC and IPF local leaders have lost credibility and respect from the people. PPP seem somewhat organized but small.

The organizing committee chairman who whispered to me on the stage did it because of political consideration too. The fear of being called up and questioned, have moldered over behavior. The effects of politics can be subtle and unnoticeable and yet profound. Therefore 54 years of subtle segregation, discrimination and denial has tremendous effect on our thinking and behavior. The MIC supporting Indians have accepted not to question the gross injustice and racial discrimination. The HINDRAF rally was a great eye opener and shock awakening for many from their slumber. The educated and the informed Indians have to roll up their sleeves and do their part.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan


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