Skip to comments.Why do they hate us?(India-Malaysia tensions)
Posted on 12/02/2007 4:17:45 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Why do they hate us?
It may have hit international headlines only now but the ethnic tensions in Malaysia have been simmering for some years. At the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Malaysia has been on the watch-list for about a half-decade. A combustible mix of Kuala Lumpur's internal and external policies has been waiting to explode.
It is important to understand how Indians got to be in Malaysia in the first place. While historical links, Chola-era trade, and a steady cargo of culture and commodities, Hindu influence and the Sanskrit language have all been around, the modern migration of, largely, Tamil peasants came about in the 19th century. The British took them to East Asia as indentured labour.
To be fair, the Tamils were not the only ones shipped to the Straits of Malacca by the colonial government. In his book Forging the Raj (Oxford, 2005), the Berkeley historian Thomas R Metcalf writes an engrossing essay titled "Sikh Recruitment for Colonial Military and Police Forces" and discusses the causes and effects of Sikh soldiers and policemen doing duty in the late 19th century Malay peninsula.
It was a culture shock. "The Indians were there in large measure simply to overawe and intimidate the local population, in part by their sheer physical size," Metcalf writes. He quotes a contemporary observer as remarking that the sultan of Pahang "strongly objects to the importation of Sikhs into Pahang saying that they are rough and ignorant of Malay customs".
Eventually the Sikh military recruits came home, but the Tamil plantation workers were left without the exit option. Today, they make up eight per cent of Malaysia's population. Ethnic Chinese are another 25 per cent and the majority Malays 60 per cent.
In 1957, Malaysia became independent and embarked on an aggressive Malays-first social policy. This sought to secure the levers of economic and political power for the majority community. Problems with the ethnic minorities persisted. In 1963 Singapore joined the Malaysia federation but walked out two years later in what was seen as an assertion of ethnic Chinese identity.
In 1969, there were bloody riots between Malays and Chinese in Malaysia. The suspicion has not gone but the presence of a powerful economic giant called Singapore next door -- in the city-state, 75 per cent of all permanent residents are Chinese and 14 per cent Malays -- has meant a balance is maintained.
Singapore is not afraid to speak up for Malaysia's Chinese minorities; the ethnic Indians, however, have had no matching support from an external homeland.
Race to religion
Till the early 1990s, Malaysia seemed an economic miracle, one of the "Asian Tigers", cited as a model for slowcoach, socialist India. It was patronised in the 1980s by the Japanese and GDP growth rates kept social angularities firmly in check. For instance, the bumiputera (the term for Malays, derived from the Sanskrit bhoomiputra or son of the soil) system required Indian businessmen to compulsorily give away 30 per cent of their equity to a Malay partner.
By the mid-1990s, the Asian currency crisis had taken its toll. The Japanese economy too had gone into long-term slumber. Malaysia suddenly found itself without its old anchors. It sought to blame the outsider for its new-found problems -- the West, which did not understand "Asian values"; international currency market operators, who had allegedly destabilised Malaysia's ringgit; and at home, the Indian minorities.
It was convenient that the Malaysian Indians were largely Hindu. As it happened, by the late 1990s Mahatir Mohammed, Malaysia's leader for over 20 years ending 2003 -- and, ironically, a man with Indian/ Malayalee as well as Malay blood in his veins -- had discovered the political utility of Islam. "Malaysia has encountered a steady Wahabbisation and Arabisation for some years now," says a senior diplomat in Singapore.
While there have also been issues with the ethnic Chinese -- largely over economic control -- the hostility to the Indians "has acquired a religious edge", with openly provocative actions being resorted to since at least 2005 (see box).
In the early 1980s, two Asian countries used Japanese collaborations to set up flagship "national" car manufacturing companies. India partnered Suzuki to set up Maruti; Malaysia used Mitsubishi's expertise to build Proton. Maruti still prospers, but Proton has floundered with the rest of the Malaysian economy and is now making losses.
In November 2007, the Economist reported that Proton had drawn up a revival blueprint. It would produce an "Islamic car" -- with add-ons like a compass pointing in the direction of Mecca and storage space for a prayer mat -- for sale in Iran and Turkey, and possibly Indonesia and Pakistan.
The idea of an "Islamic car" may sound bizarre but it is not out of place in Kuala Lumpur's current political climate. Since he became Prime Minister in 2003, the Government of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has resorted to similarly egregious Islamic symbolism in its external relations.
"Malaysia is seeking relevance on the global map," explains a senior Indian Foreign Service official, "and it has decided it must lead both the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement. In fact, it has been instrumental in making the OIC the key driving force within NAM."
In short, Badawi's Malaysia is positioning itself against the United States and gravitating towards China. This has also meant that Malays will not target ethnic Chinese; they don't want to embarrass big brother in Beijing.
Odd man out
There are three reasons why, analysts point out, Malaysia has come to look upon India and Indians as an inconvenience. For a start, India is the principle senior member opposing Badawi's and the OIC's attempt to turn NAM into a rabble-rousing collective that is not just anti-American but actively pro-Islamist.
Second, India and China are fighting a proxy war in ASEAN through, respectively, Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore wants India's integration with East Asia, citing Hindu/Buddhist cultural affinities and economic and strategic commonalities. Malaysia is being used by China to block India.
Third, while Pakistan is not geographically close to ASEAN or East Asia, it has come to exercise great influence on Malaysia's India view. Shaukat Aziz, former prime minister of Pakistan, has played a pivotal role. "When Aziz was with Citibank in Malaysia," recalls a PMO official in Delhi, "he became a very close personal friend of Badawi. This served them when they came to lead their countries."
In November, for instance, just days before India and ASEAN were to negotiate their Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Malaysia announced it had signed a separate FTA with Pakistan. "This would have little economic impact on India," said a Government official, "but it gave out a negative message. Malaysia was clearly not interested in the India-ASEAN FTA."
By oppressing its Indian minorities at home, preferring Pakistan to India, and positing a Beijing-Islamabad-Kuala Lumpur axis against a possible Singapore-New Delhi-Tokyo (not to speak of Washington) alliance in the new Great Game unfolding in East Asia, Malaysia is, therefore, sending out very strong signals.
India cannot fail to read them right.
* In 2005, M Moorthy, a soldier in the Malaysian Army, is killed. Mullahs seize his body and bury it under Islamic rites. Moorthy's widow is rebuffed, told Sharia courts override civil judiciary.
* On October 30, 2007, a week before Diwali, the century-old Maha Mariamman temple in Padang Jawa is demolished. This is part of a series of similar demolitions, Hindus say.
* On November 25, 2007, 5,000 activists of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), a body of Malaysian Indians, are brutally attacked by riot policemen near the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. They were marching towards the British High Commission to stage a symbolic protest against London's inability to guarantee constitutional liberties to ethnic Indians when it gave Malaysia independence.
> It was convenient that the Malaysian Indians were largely Hindu. As it happened, by the late 1990s Mahatir Mohammed, Malaysia’s leader for over 20 years ending 2003 — and, ironically, a man with Indian/ Malayalee as well as Malay blood in his veins — had discovered the political utility of Islam. “Malaysia has encountered a steady Wahabbisation and Arabisation for some years now,” says a senior diplomat in Singapore.
Amazing! In less than two generations, the muzzies subjugated this country from within to make it an Islamic cesspool.
As an American, I am happy that Malaysia has at least one other country to hate. It would have been pretty boring for the Bumiputera to have to chant the same boring slogans day after day.
The radical madrassas (Islamic schools) offer free room and board (paid for from subsidies from Arab oil) in exchange for submitting to indoctrination. Graduates become radical imams in the mosques (again with Arab subsidies). The net effect is they take over within a generation or two
I think Malaysia has pretty high economic indicators compared to most Islamic nations(almost near to Persian Gulf states)-it’s made amazing progress since the past 30 years & it cannot be attributed to Arab oil.
I wonder how the average Bumiputras feel about China & Chinese-not too great in all probability.
And doesn't Malaysia have discrimination against Chinese written into their constitution?
Yeah, envy is a pretty destructive thing.
The emotion the average Bumiputera SHOULD feel toward the Chinese and Malayo-Chinese is pure gratitude. The place would be nothing if not for the peranakan laut.
I'm not talking about Arab money going towards the country as a whole. I'm talking about Arab money being used to cultivate selected individuals as agents of influence in various Islamic countries, through subsidies of radical madrassas and imams
If you have traveled in Malaysia, you cannot help but notice that any domestic business of any size is run by ethnic Chinese and, to a lesser extent, Indians. Any foreign business is Japanese and, to a lesser extent, American.
The Malay majority, while nowhere near as shiftless and uneducated as, say, the Arabs in Saudi Arabia, is visible only in government posts or running 7-11 type businesses.
Malaysia has traditionally done well financially because it has welcomed foreign investment and treated local capitalists like the engines of economic growth which they are.
Interesting article. Thanks for posting.
In a word: ISLAM.
And that Malay majority is transforming itself into a bunch of Coconut Arabs just as fast as it can. Saudi Oil money is the engine of an Arab cultural imperialism that transcends anything the area has ever seen.
the question to ask is, "who cares?"
For me between Singapore and Malaysia its a clear choice. I think we should be cautious about our military sales to Malaysia.
The problem with India trying to be more forceful would be ASEAN showing a collective aversion,since most of the members essentially have political arrangements similar to Malaysia.
This is an article by the usually hardhitting B Raman-
MALAYSIA: INDIA RUSHES IN WHERE CHINA FEARS TO TREAD
Why should anyone (Malaysia included) be expected to tolerate foreigners in their country. Indians fought long and hard to remove foreigners from their country, now they complain because people are treating them the same as they treated foreigners until 1947.
If you think those Malaysian Indians should leave Malaysia,then you should also agree that all those White Australians & White/Black Americans should also leave their current homelands-afterall they are foreigners over there.
Those Indians have little in common with the land of their origin barring their religion.Many were brought as indentured labourers by the British when they colonised Malaya 2 centuries ago,while others came as merchants.
Actually, I do not think those Indians ‘should’ do anything. They should do what is best for them. And if they think it is best for them to colonise foreign countries (something which many of my own countrymen used to think would be good for us), then they should do it. BUT, they should not expect the Malaysians to love them, or even tolerate them, while they are occupying their land. There is no objective right or wrong when it comes to international politics. It is all subjective.
As for the Australians and Americans, neither are objectively ‘foreign’. Most Australians are White (or Anglo-Celtic as they refer to themselves), thus to most Australians, it is the Aborigines who are foreign, though to the latter, the former is foreign. To an Indian in Malaysia, the Malay are foreign, to the Malay, the Indians are foreign. And anyway, in general, the Aborigines and Amerindians, understandably, hate the Whites who conquered them and took their land. If you ever spoke to either group you would be well aware of this. That is unsurprising. Nor is it that the Malay do not like foreigners in their country. That is human nature for you. If the Malay did like foreigners in their country, the British would still rule it (as with your own country). In the same way that I understand why Indians hate the English, I understand why Malays hate the Indians in their country.
There are no rights to anything in this world, only those you take for yourself. The Americans and Australians fought and won land. If the Aborigines or Amerindians want their land back, then they should try and take it. Maybe, with the birth rate differentials and everything, that will happen in the future (though with the immigration crisis in both countries, it will not be long before both pieces of land are in the ownership of people who the Americans and Australians consider foreign, and it will not be the Amerindians or Aborigines).
This is what irks me about the article, and the bit at the bottom about the Indians complaining about the British not giving them rights as a community in Malaysia upon decolonisation. Not only do they want to occupy other people’s land (which is human nature) they want the people of that land to stop complaining about it AND they want foreign countries half a world away to help them do it. THe British did not give Brits in Malaysia speciual rights why should we give the Indians special rights. In fact Britain never gave Brits special rights in India, and the Indians certainly will never give Brits any. The double standards of kicking foreigners out of your country, then expecting others to accept you into their country is breathtaking. It would be like an American expecting an Amerindian to be happy at the destruction of their culture. By all means, take land and colonise it, just do not expect the people who own the land to accept it and lie down.
If the Indians in Malaysia have so little in common with India, why are they classing themselves as Indians?
As for the indentured servitude, what is your point? Many of the early European settlers of America were also indentured servants, and many of the early Australians were criminals. The early Aussies they did not go by choice. Does this mean that the Aborigines should accept them. Maybe you should tell them that.
Whereas Britain left Malaysia decades ago, the Indians are still there, no-one is forcing them to stay. In fact the Malaysians are doing quite the opposite.
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