25 November, 2007

Hindraf - Ethnic Indians protest in Malaysia





Hindraf leaders give impromptu briefing at temple (24th November)

Hindraf’s promise that every Indian in Malaysia will get RM1mil through its class action suit against the British government is an ingenious way of attracting attention but logic tells us that the suit is unlikely to succeed.

IT’S mission impossible – to seek RM14tril from Britain for bringing indentured labourers to this country and exploiting them for the last 150 years.

And there is the promise that every Indian in Malaysia will get RM1mil through this class action suit filed by the lawyers of Hindraf, the Hindu Rights Action Force.

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BY WONG CHUN WAI










About 20,000 protesters demonstrated under the shadows of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Twin Towers after their efforts to petition the British High Commission was thwarted by the police with tear gas and chemical-laced water cannon, according to Malaysiakini.

Malaysian police have used tear gas and water cannons against a street protest by thousands of ethnic Indians in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Many ethnic Indians have complained that they are marginalised in terms of employment and business by a government dominated by politicians from the majority of ethnic Malays.

Malaysian authorities had already cracked down violently on a protest that was critical of the government earlier in November.

Hamish MacDonald, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kuala Lumpur, said on Sunday: "Ethnic Indians are one of the minority ethnic groups in Malaysia. These people believe they are given a raw deal by the government.

"The Malaysia government has laws which favour the Malay Muslim majority, and the ethnic Indians feel that they are not represented properly.

"They tried to hand over a petition at the British High Commission this morning, because they feel that this disadvantage goes back to the colonial days.

"Since then the protest has moved towards the city centre and turned violent.

"The police have fired water cannons and many, many rounds of tear gas into the faces of the protesters. The protest has since turned into a street battle," he said.

Warnings

Protesters denied official warnings to stay away from the planned rally in the capital, which had been organised by a Hindu rights group to draw attention to complaints of government discrimination against the minority ethnic Indian community.

Witnesses said Indians had regrouped a few hundred metres from British High Commission to call on the former colonial ruler to make reparations for bringing Indians to Malaysia as indentured labour just over a century ago.

A lawsuit filed recently seeks $4 trillion in compensation for the estimated two-million ethnic Indians whose ancestors were brought over to Malaysia as labourers by Britain in the 1800s.

Ethnic Indians make up about seven per cent of the population.

Forming 60 per cent of the nation's 27 million people, ethnic Malay Muslims make up the majority, while 26 per cent are Chinese.

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