THE TAMIL DILEMMA
If the Tamils of Malaysia seriously wish to improve the condition of their community and enhance the opportunities available to them, they have to engage firstly in a little introspection of themselves. It is not as if they are altogether deprived any more than say the rural Malays who also deprived of economic and educational opportunities.
The Chinese whatever one may think of them or say of them, did not land in Malaysia (or Malaya as it was then) on wings of eagles or golden horse drawn carriages. Nothing, no one favoured them in colonial Malaya. The future looked equally if not more bleak to the Chinese as it did to everyone else on the departure of the British at independence. The Tamils had India to go back to if the tide did not favour them. Many did. The Chinese on the other hand had nowhere to run to. It was a do or die situation. This was their last frontier.
The Chinese without the burden of a caste ridden culture or a homeland to return to, had little to hold them back and a lot to lose if they did hold back. They soon found their sea legs and turned their forlorn community of labourers, beggars, tradesmen, warlords, unskilled artisans and social misfits into a nation within a nation.
A handful of their leaders who were independently wealthy and economically well off soon engaged the Malay political elite, trading favours behind a wall of silence and secrecy that often goes with such transactions. The Indians who were wealthy as is the case now kept their money to themselves.
The Tengku Abdul Rahman was soon enamoured by a group (the Chinese) he once distrusted and distanced himself from for a number of reasons. The Chinese persisted and gradually built for themselves inextricable and indispensable bonds with the Malays.
By contrast many of the upper caste and in particular Jaffna Tamils (and Brahmins like Ambiga Srinivasan’s family) who enjoyed priviledge and position under the British, reserved any influence and opportunity they enjoyed after independence through their connections to themselves. What they had in excess they reserved for their clans and their parochial communities (fellow upper caste Tamils):
A subservient Tamil community was born.
In the current political situation in Malaysia, the Tamils have an unprecedented smorgass board of opportunities staring them in the face. The question is will they grab it this time with both hands for the blessing it is or continue to bicker amongst themselves, rely on “ leaders” who are nothing more than self serving political eunuchs and blame government and the NEP when they fail. Or will they re-organize pick up the courage and rise to the challenges in the form of opportunities presented to them by the current Barisan government?
Ambiga Srinivasan like her father before her has no Tamil credentials to speak of. She has jettisoned her Tamilness for the pseudo western Bersih types funded and trained on destablising Malaysia. Her treatment of Waytha Murthi and his Hindraf group when she led the Malaysian Bar speaks volumes of commitment to the Tamils. She serves communities and masters from outside of Malaysia.
Waytha Murthi on the other hand turned out to be a flash in the pan. Lacking leadership qualities he made his mark amongst the Tamils by making a few noises on their behalf with his university of London law degree.
The man is not terribly competent as a lawyer and neither are those members of his inner circle with or without their LLB’s any different to him. One merely has to look at the way he drafted the pleadings against the UK government in his attempt to seek compensation for Tamils for their suffering under colonial rule. He made a mess of it, would not accept assistance from others more competent than he and in the process damaged any chances for future claims. Such is the ego of Waythamurthi.
Waythamurthi and Hindraf have squandered all the opportunities placed before them by a sympathetic Barisan government. Waytha and Hindraf (his brothers) have not accounted for the hundreds and thousands of dollars contributed by Hindraf members since 2007 to this day much like Ambiga has failed to account for the enormous sums of money paid to Bersih by the Americans.
Waythamurthi is unreliable as he is unpredictable and undependable. He switches political allegiances more often than most people change their under garments. But that’s Waythamurthi for you.
Playing the role of Gandhi where there is no violence inflicted by government or anyone else against Tamils as a policy is misplaced a role or strategy for him to adopt. It has no currency with the situation of the Tamils in Malaysia. Waytha’s martyr strategy is nothing more than theatrics and part of the Tamil movie culture of life imitating art. In fact if he has to play the non violence role, the Gandhi in him would be more appropriate if it were to be directed towards his own violence prone community of Tamils.
If Tamil leaders do not deliver long term tangible results in the short term, or demonstrate the political will or savvy that is required of them to produce results for the community, they must be jettisoned to make place for a younger more dynamic generation of politicians. There are more capable willing and dynamic young Tamils out there waiting for the opportunity to lead. They are more capable and strategic in their thinking than the Waythas of this world. However in true Malaysian Tamil fashion they are ignored.
Waytha wanted Rome to be built in a day when in the Barisan government. It was not going to happen. It was a tactical blunder on his part to hold a gun to the government’s head demanding cash handouts and ‘projects’ to a rudderless community that has demonstrated no capacity to look after themselves. He wanted to run before he could walk. Government under Datuk Seri Najib had plans and made very generous offers to the Tamils via Waytha and Hindraf but they turned it down and turned away from government.
Malaysia’s Tamils have unfortunately had a history of incompetent self serving leaders from VT Sambanthan. None of them have done much for their community apart from exploiting the poorer Tamils for personal gain and nothing else.
There is little to show in achievement and advancement for the Tamils that occurred during tenure of VT Sambanthan, Manickavasagam, Murughesu (who was found dead in a Chinese brothel in Chow Kit Road in the 1970’s) or any of their successors in office.
As for the more controversial Datuk Samy Velu there can be no doubt that inspite of the allegations of corruption against him, there is a lot more to show in terms of economic and educational advancement for the Tamil community that occurred during his tenure at the helm of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).
Datuk Sami Velu faced unprecedented challenges and resistance from Tun Dr. Mahathir and an Anwar Ibrahim who were both openly hostile to the Tamils when they were in office. Anwar had a pathological hatred for the Tamils and his many derogatory references to them is legend. Dr. Mahathir simply does not like Indians and never did in office.
Whilst there now appears to be a Tamil polity that appears to want manna to fall from the sky to “free them from their despair and suffering” many resort to violence disappointed with the failure of those unrealistic expectations of quick wealth, prosperity and advancement promised them by their wayward leaders.
There is a breed of Tamils now in opposition camps unconvincingly campaigning for the Tamils to move to the opposition. Almost all of these opposition Tamils to a man has been bitten before by the Chinese Anwar axis before and more recently. Yet they peddle the politics of boot licking the Chinese and Anwar who have nothing but crumbs and humiliation to offer to them and their communities. These are the Thumby’s of the Chinese and the opposition. Then there is Ambiga a canine on a foreign leash parading alongside the man whose 20 years in government saw the Tamils fall to the bottom of the pit. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed.
In order for Tamils to move forward in a highly competitive Malaysia they only need to look around them and to their own kind who have made it successfully. Amongst them are journalists who speak, read and write in perfect Bahasa Melayu. There are doctors, manufacturers, grocers, lawyers, teachers and Tamils in almost every form of human endevour who have willed themselves to success working themselves to the bone to get there. Not all of them come from privilege.
There is also a very large body of those Tamils who with their meagre earnings, drink themselves to death, curse and swear at government, join the Bersih crowds of mainly Chinese with some Indians at the helm ready to devour them for the causes of others and spit them out into the heap at the end of the day as they have all throughout the history of Malaysia.
The choices are stark but they are there. Leaders are not always born. Many more are the by product of failure and adversity. They have succeeded because they have persisted.
The Tamils must organise. They must be prepared to do deals with government and the majority and leave emotion and cultural differences at the door when they enter into negotiations.
It is better to stick to devil you know than the Ambigas and PKR’s and DAP’s when they have no track record of assisting the Tamils except when they need a thumby to show the world they are “multi racial”.
Lets hope this Deevali, the triumph of light over darkness will ensure the light of truth and knowledge will shine amongst the Tamils in places where the light has never been before.