Splitting hairs (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

In that sense the Malays are simpler. As long as you speak the Malay language, profess Islam, and practice Malay culture, you are Malay. Malays would not look beyond that. The Chinese and Indians will not stop there. You must also be Hakka or Tamil or whatever.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

PKR group says Sivarasa’s inability to speak Tamil a liability

There are rumblings on the ground about PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa’s inability to speak Tamil – and this may be a liability for the leader in the party elections at the end of the year.

Some grassroots leaders have openly expressed their wish for Sivarasa to be voted out because they are unhappy he cannot communicate effectively with Indians who did not have a good grasp of English.

They want either Kapar MP S. Manickavasagam or Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishan to contest for the post.

Bukit Beruntung/Bukit Sentosa Indian Community Association vice-president N. Nadaraja said the post should be held by a leader who could speak fluently in Tamil.

“We want an Indian leader who can communicate with us effectively to highlight our grouses to the top leaders.

“Sivarasa could not even communicate with the old folk in the estates because he can only say simple words like nandri (thank you) and vanakam (greetings),” he said.

Sivarasa, also the Subang MP, is of Ceylonese descent.

Nadaraja, also a PKR member, said they would nominate Manickavasagam to contest the position.

Nadaraja added that they were also dissatisfied with Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar for a similar reason.

Meanwhile an on-line news portal reported that 40 Indian leaders had met party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to express their dissatisfaction over Sivarasa’s inability to speak Tamil.

The group lobbied for Gobalakrishan to take up the post.

Sivarasa, when contacted, said a language handicap should not be regarded as a communication barrier in a multi-racial society.

“Furthermore PKR is a multi-racial party, and its leaders are obligated to serve all the people regardless of their racial background.

“Not being able to speak a certain language is not an issue,” he said.

Sivarasa said even though he could not speak Tamil, fellow party comrades Gobalakrishnan, Manickavasagam, Dr Xavier, M. Ravi, S. Kesavan and S. Manikumar had good links with the Indian grassroots.

“We practise collective leadership in the party. We take care of all communities,’’ he said. — The Star


I once had a discussion with a Hindraf leader about his movement needing to broaden its struggle to make it more Malaysian and less Indian. My argument was based on the fact that there are as many poor Malays, Chinese, Orang Asli, and natives of East Malaysia as there are Indians.

After all, I added, we must look at the bigger picture. Granted there are many extremely poor Indians. But the richest man in Malaysia, Anandakrishnan, is also an Indian. So it is not like all Indians are poor. And I personally know many Indians who are very wealthy. Bangsar alone is ‘infested’ with many wealthy Indians. And why are these wealthy Indians not contributing to the Indian community or supporting the Hindraf cause?

I mean; you whack the Malays for not supporting Hindraf. But the wealthy Indians themselves are not supporting Hindraf. Should not charity start at home? And when the Malays see that the Indians of means are not concerned about the poor Indians or supportive of Hindraf then you can’t fault the Malays for being ‘slow’ in rallying to the side of the Indians.

I was then asked a question. Do you regard Anandakrishnan as an Indian? I was taken aback for a while. Of course I regard him as an Indian. That is the trouble, came the reply. He is not an Indian. And then I was enlightened as to what ‘race’ he is (I can’t remember what it was….Ceylonese or Keralan or Gujerati or whatever).

I can see that this is not just a Hindraf view. It is also the view of the Indians in PKR. Sivarasa is not an Indian. He is Ceylonese and does not speak Tamil. So he is not Indian enough and should not be regarded as an Indian leader. An Indian leader must be a Tamil speaking person and one who celebrates Deepavali and not Christmas or Hari Raya.

This brings me back to Kuala Terengganu of the 1970s. Terengganu has eight Parliament seats and 32 state seats. 31 of the state seats are Umno while only one, Bandar, is a MCA seat. There are no MIC seats. And all eight Parliament seats are Umno as well.

But MIC had two branches in Kuala Terengganu, even though it has no state seat, while MCA, which has the solitary non-Malay seat, has only one branch. And, back in the 1970s, MIC had only 80 members as opposed to MCA, which had thousands. (I am not sure of the statistics today).

The reason why the mere 80 MIC members had two branches is because one was led by K. Raj, a Tamil-speaking Hindu, and the other was led by Victor Isaacs, an English-speaking Christian.

The 80 MIC members were basically divided into two camps. One was the Tamil-speaking Hindu camp and the other the English-speaking Christian camp. Being Indian is not enough to unite them. They had to speak the same language and worship the same God as well.

In the recent General Election, Jeff Ooi was supposed to contest in Selangor. The problem though is that the seat he was offered had a majority Hakka population. So the people there did not want him.

If DAP fielded Jeff Ooi then the voters were going to vote MCA. Jeff Ooi is a ‘banana’ they said — yellow on the outside but white on the inside. But the voters would accept Ronnie Lui though, a fellow Hakka.

But Ronnie Liu had ‘invested’ many years in Pandamaran and the voters in Pandamaran wanted him to contest there. If they fielded anyone else other than Ronnie Liu then the voters were going to vote MCA.

Finally, Jeff Ooi was shifted to Penang while Ronnie Liu was retained in Pandamaran. I am not sure, though, whether the candidate fielded in the seat originally offered to Jeff Ooi is a fellow Hakka but I assume it must have been or else that seat would have fallen to MCA.

So this is not only an Indian problem. It is also a Chinese problem. Imagine the problem if the Malays also demanded that the candidate/leader must not only be a Malay but must be Bugis, Minangkabau, Boyan, Achinese, Manilamen, Javanese, Siamese, Arab, Pakistani, Bajau, Melanau, Mamak, etc., as well. The situation would be even more chaotic.

In that sense the Malays are simpler. As long as you speak the Malay language, profess Islam, and practice Malay culture, you are Malay. Malays would not look beyond that. The Chinese and Indians will not stop there. You must also be Hakka or Tamil or whatever.

The Indians and Chinese resent the Ketuanan Melayu and the first-class/second-class citizen status. They want all Malaysians to be treated equal. They want to be regarded as satu bangsa or one race and no such thing as Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera. But amongst themselves the Indians and Chinese still split hairs as to whether you are ‘proper’ Indian or Chinese or whether you are ‘my type’ of Indian or Chinese.

Before the Indians and Chinese can demand equal status they must first sort out their ‘internal issues’. When Indians and Chinese are not ready to regard themselves as ‘one race’ how can they expect the Malays to treat them as such? The Indians and Chinese still have the class or caste system within their own community. And they want the Malays to treat them as equal when they do not treat each other as equal?


Translated into Chinese at: http://ccliew.blogspot.com/2010/07/blog-post_19.html