Stop fighting, help the Malaysian Indians

A reminder to the wealthy and powerful. Help develop the poor – especially those from the Indian community. Detach yourself from your wealth, as the Bhagavad Gita, Sutras, Quran, Bible, Granth Sahib, etc, would ask you to. The wealth that you have acquired is not yours – they are those of the children of the poor and of the orphaned.


Azly Rahman
([email protected])

Reading about the continuing plight of the most economically disadvantaged Malaysians, I wrote the following piece some time ago. As we are ushered cynically and reluctantly into a new era of Malaysian leadership — into yet possibly another period of chaos and complexity — we must be reminded of the issue of dehumanization amongst us. A humane and spiritually-based economic solution is needed, in an age of high-speed casino and hedonistic capitalism.

No amount of help will ever be enough, but any help will do. We need to help our Malaysian Indian community progress faster. How much has the New Economic Policy (NEP) helped the Indians? What then must all of us do? There is still too much infighting and problems of succession amongst the Indian Malaysians. Power is concentrated in the hands of the few. There is no evidence of transformative leadership. There is the ethos of overstaying one's welcome and not giving enough room for younger, brighter, more ethical and energetic leadership to emerge. These ‘fights’ must stop for the sanity of Malaysians in general.

A revolution is needed in the minds of the Indians. The revolution must be translated into praxis. Had all the warring factions of the Indian leadership spent less time arguing and torching newspapers and started reading what the chapters of the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord) said about greed, lust, power, the divine and the demonic self – the Indian population in the long run would be better off.

There is so much wisdom in this timeless text of the Bhagavad Gita that it can also be used to engineer profound social changes based on the philosophy of self-help/participatory democracy in the Indian community. There is the potential of embracing the philosophy of ‘kampongism’ – one that prioritises pastoralism and participatory democracy over profit-driven and parochial demono-cracy.

Multicultural marhaenism

It is time for the other races to engage in serious and sincere gotong-royong to help the poorest of the poor amongst the Indians. It is time that we become possessed with a new spirit of multicultural marhaenism. The great Indonesian leader Ahmed Soekarno popularised the concept of marhaenism as an antidote to the ideological battle against materialism, colonialism, dependency and imperialism. The thought that the top 10 percent of the richest Malaysians are earning more than 20 times compared to the 90 percent of the population is terrifying. What has become of this nation that promised a just distribution of wealth at the onset of Independence?

I have a perspective to resolve the issue of the Indian community.

The Malays and the Chinese too need to help the Indians progress. Malay and Chinese multimillionaires and billionaires can set up grants to help the poor Indians succeed in all fields of human endeavour. The Malays can get MARA (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) to share ideas, expertise and technology to make Indian children succeed and learn entrepreneurship skills.

The same strategies of affirmative action given to the Malays must be extended to the Indians and designed for their children. The Chinese can help with sharing of good business strategies that will help the Indian community create opportunities for their children. Indian graduates can continue to help the children of the less fortunate ones see the importance of education so that we will not see high dropout rates. They can help initiate the establishment of good boarding schools ala Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) to help bright Indian children from poor families succeed. Indian millionaires and billionaires can help create as many philanthropic organisations as they can to offer financial help based on merit and needs. Malay and Chinese teachers can volunteer to be transferred to predominantly Indian schools in the estates in order to see for themselves how much help people of other races need.

Those tens of thousands of unemployed graduates need to be trained as teachers and sent to the most economically-depressed schools in order to learn what social justice means and how to help solve social problems irrespective of race, creed, colour and religious orientation. Education is a gentle and humane enterprise that ought to teach teachers to fight prejudice, intolerance and to educate each child as if the child is his/her own. Each child is a gift, a bundle of love and joy, a khalifatullah (vicegerent of God) and an opportunity for the teacher to develop his/her fullest potential. Poverty creates more children that will have less resources and more emotional stress. Poverty must be eradicated regardless of race, creed, ethnicity and national origin.

Not an Indian problem

It is not an Indian problem. It is problem of humanity. Poverty cuts across racial lines. It is now a class issue that requires class struggle. Poverty creates mass anger and can result in revolutions. How much longer must the Indians suffer? They have helped build this nation we now call Malaysia. Their work in the rubber plantations has helped Henry Ford expand his global empire and Proton to spin its wheels of fortune. We are shackled too much by greed. The conversation between Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra is not about a 'battle'. It is about a jihad and a crusade against the injustices of man against man, man against nature and man against himself.

Stop fighting – think of what we are fighting for? But first, understand what the Gita, Sutras, Ramayana, Mahabharatta, Quran, Bible, etc. say about fighting over wealth and power. We'll all be humbled and will soon discover that all these will be left behind, in a world structured as maya and samsara (sengsara as the Malays would term it). Our common enemy is greed, materialism, militarism and corruption. That's our Mahabharata – our great war!

Our common enemy is our insatiable urge to acquire arta (harta in Malay, wealth in English). We have been building structures of oppression and setting up international advisory panels to help us plunder the natives in the name of development and Vision 2020. We do not understand enough the meaning of "trickle down" in capitalism, as we continue to create wealth that trickles up and finally flown outside of the country into bank accounts in Switzerland, Bahamas, and Cayman Islands. We then claim that we are nationalists when those things we do are for our self-interest and greed at the expense of the rural, urban and middle class poor struggling to make ends meet and not knowing who has been making their lives chaotic.

Help the poor

A reminder to the wealthy and powerful. Help develop the poor – especially those from the Indian community. Detach yourself from your wealth, as the Bhagavad Gita, Sutras, Quran, Bible, Granth Sahib, etc, would ask you to. The wealth that you have acquired is not yours – they are those of the children of the poor and of the orphaned.

You must learn what 'detachment from worldly possessions' means in the context of a cutthroat economic system like ours. It is time to understand how our lives are connected in a complex web of power, ideology, technology and consciousness.

Help restructure the lives of the abject poor before they help totally restructure the lives of the filthy rich.

While the opinion in the article is mine,
the comments are yours;
present them rationally and ethically.