Political Public Fund Managers


Update 1: The advertisement below lists the criteria for the RM180 million fund

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There has to be a better way to manage our limited resources and public funds, right?

(How true! Sometime we forget that the money we get is actually from our own pockets and to make things worse, some of it ends up in the politicians’ pockets as well. Image source: http://www.sodahead.com)

First read this:-

MIC President Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has been given the task of managing a RM180mil special government allocation meant to help Indian entrepreneurs. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the decision for him to take charge of small and medium enterprise (SME) projects for Indians was made by the Cabinet last week.

“The RM180mil fund is intended to assist all segments of Indian entrepreneurs, including micro-enterprises,” Palanivel told a press conference yesterday after handing out cheques to recipients of Community Builders Foundation (CBF) pre-schoolers aid. He said his responsibility would be to monitor the loan applications as well as engage with the public.

“This is to ensure that genuine and deserving Indian entrepreneurs have access to finance to grow their business,” he said, adding that those interested to apply should contact SME Corporation Malaysia.

(Source)

In 2010, as part of reforms to be implemented by the Najib’s Administration, the Government introduced the Transformation Programme to address 7 key areas concerning the people of the country. They should have added one more – Elimination of Unwanted Political Hands on Tax-Payers Money.

I know it is not the first time we are reading these kind of nonsense in the papers but one need to ask why in the world, the Government want to trust millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to a political party to “manage it” when we already have a more effective of doing it by using the various departments of the Government? How can one be held accountable for the money managed? Yes, one may ask what’s new in Malaysia – the abuse of tax-payers funds have been going on for many, many years now. True I say but then again, for how long we want to allow this to go on where public funds somehow ends up as political party’s personal fund.

Same case here with the RM180 million fund – no doubt the final handling of the fund may be done via SME Corp (or some agencies or NGOs who has the proper resources, logistics and professional fund managers) but why the need for middle man for the so-call management of the funds? If it is an act of public relationship (in view of the general elections – i.e. to show that MIC is relevant and takes care of the community), how certain we are that:-

  1. All of the funds allocated by the Government will end up in real entrepreneurs’ pockets and not siphoned off under the disguise of administration charges and commission or phony entrepreneurs or worse – as personal funds for the up-coming elections and shopping? Remember that all these money comes from the tax-payers fund and must be held accountable for every cents used; AND
  2. Whether all the funds will be disbursed regardless of the political stand of those who need the funds? We have heard cases in the past where opposition supporters have been denied to certain benefits even though they are entitled to. With MIC behind the manager’s seat, will they be professional enough to ensure dirty politics and political affiliations biasness stays out from the management of the funds?

This is because allegations of abuse of public funds by politicians or the manner in which the said money was disbursed have surfaced before:-

PKR today claimed that public money meant to fund activities of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has been channelled to pay for the activities of Wanita Umno . PKR Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin today said the funds were channelled to the Council of Women and Family Development under the ministry.

The council was established in 2001 during the tenure of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as its minister. Shahrizat is also the Wanita Umno chief. According to Zuraidah, the council was initially made up of women state executive council (exco) members nationally. But she claimed that over time the membership of the council has been hijacked by Wanita Umno.

(Source)

And;

The government has promised millions of ringgit to upgrade Tamil schools in the country but one question still remains. Would the millions really be spent on the reconstruction of these schools or would it go to crony contractors; or be channeled back to the government? The lack of transparency in releasing the funds had raised heckles from non-governmental organisations, who wanted a system to streamline funds to ensure it reached the “target” group fast.

He said going by these estimates, in actual fact the government would only complete work amounting to RM33 million out of the RM100 million set aside under the 2012 Budget. “This is because the relevant authorities especially JKR has quoted three-fold prices. While work will be done for RM35 million, the remainder of the allocation will either go back to the government or into the pockets of contractors or cronies given the contracts,” he added.

(Source)

And whilst the “how” and “who” is being worked out, there is another question need to be considered – how and when MIC (or any other political party) will be involved in the management of the funds? Are they going to be the decision makers on who will get what? Are they going to be just managers on paper (for publicity sake) but the real work will be done by professional fund managers?

I am not accusing anything here but we want to know how MIC as the “managers of the fund” is going to ensure that the tax-payers money will be used for the right reasons and for the right persons. This is because whilst the objective and the creation of the RM180 million special fund is welcomed but the manner it will be disbursed and monitored may leave rooms for abuse and for that, we need to ask if we have the best practices in place to manage and deal with public funds? Have we addressed the shortcomings, plugged the leakages and improve on the end delivery in accordance to the objectives that it was intended to? And we should start by not allowing any politicians from one side of the political divide managing these public funds.

And whilst we have been talking about the management of existing funds, Rafizi Ramli from PKR raised another interesting point – where does the Government gets all the money for these ad-hoc funds? Certainly some of these ad-hoc funds has not been budgeted for in the last Budget presentation in the Parliament so where does these allocations are coming from?-

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli today slammed the prime minister for his heavy “vote-buying” spending of RM5.77 billion, saying that the money comes from taxpayers. Rafizi said the loss of yearly revenue from Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) proposed car tax cuts would be eclipsed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unplanned spending.

“(T)he total sweets simply used by the prime minister in just the first six months (of this year) to buy the people’s votes is RM5.77 billion,” said Rafizi at a press conference today. He based his calculations by adding up the RM2.2 billion civil service bonus recently announced and various “one-off” spending by Najib’s administration which he claimed had reached RM3.57 billion. Under the RM3.57 billion “unplanned spending”, he gave examples of the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), Bantuan Kembali Ke Sekolah 1 Malaysia and Bantuan Buku 1 Malaysia. He said these schemes respectively cost the government RM2.6 billion, RM530 million and RM260 million.

He also referred to “various schemes to buy votes under the 1 Malaysia brand, and various announcements of “instant noodle projects” throughout the Jelajah Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled Tour) estimated to reach RM180 million.”

(Source)

Considering the amount of money being spent on ad-hoc funds and being passed into the hands of politicians to manage the said fund, we are left to wonder when this nonsense will stop especially when same group of people who have doing this nonsense are bent on bringing in 2 pandas and pay millions for their up-keeping (for more interesting insight, read this as well – “15 Silliest Uses of Taxpayers Money“). We need more control and we need it to be done on an urgent basis before we end up bankrupting the country with unnecessary expenses and leakages of public funds.

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Snippets – 22 December 2010


(27 people died but what caused the accident is yet to be confirmed, at least by the right people but already fingers being pointed at the driver and the bus whilst the bodies of the dead Thai tourists being sent home. Image source: http://www.salon.com/)

Driver, Bus Blamed

At least, this is what the police are saying BEFORE the official investigation by MIROS is completed.

Police believe that the express bus crash at Km15 of the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road yesterday in which 27 people were killed, mostly Thai tourists, was due to driver factor and technical problems of the bus.

Perak police deputy chief Datuk Zakaria Yusof who said this, also denied that the accident could have been caused by the road’s oily patches.

And then, after making a rather “jumping the gun” statement, Zakaria Yusof says this to cover his back:-

“However, it is up to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), Puspakom and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) to determine the cause of the accident,” he told a press conference, here, today.

(Source)

What he meant by that? It is up to MIROS (now changed to independent board) to determine the cause but I am saying that it is due to the bus and the driver? MIROS already mentioned that investigations will take about 2 weeks to complete and yet, Zakaria, did not see the wisdom to wait for the investigations to be completed and jump into his own conclusions based on initial observations.

If this been said by a lay man, it would have been understandable (after all, we have seen accidents happened due to reckless drivers and defective buses and why should this be any different) but Zakaria is not a lay person – he is the deputy police chief for the state of Perak and what he says matters. It may even influence on the outcome of the official investigations.

(Uthaya after release from ISA detention was a force to reckon with. As a human rights lawyer, he was in thick of action when a number of temples was demolished in Selangor and organized the unprecedented Hindraf rally in the city. Image source: TheNutGraph)

Separate Indian Channel

Uthayakumar and Hindraf before the last general election were doing just fine – despite having 4 of the main leaders under ISA, Hindraf remained as a pressure group to both BN and PR. Hindraf sided with PR during the last general election and contributed to the tsunami that shook BN upside down.

However, things have changed a lot since then especially when you read things like this:-

THE government needs to have a separate television channel for the Indian community like the Vasantham channel in Singapore

Human Rights Party secretary-general P. Uthayakumar as making the call in reference to Bernama TV decision not to air Tamil news on Friday which left many Indians unhappy and dissatisfied.

He said Indian labourers, especially those who earned about an average of RM600 a month, could not subscribe for Astro to watch Indian programmes as it was too costly.

(Source)

Should HRP concentrate on getting a separate Indian TV channel that may only provide entertainment or should concentrate on getting those laborers (with average RM600 per month) on ways to improve their life and get them up above the level of poverty and low income? Which is more important for these laborers and their children?

Long time ago, when I visited my uncle who was staying in a FELDA settlement and worked hard in his own plantation, I noticed that they did not have TV (they were not that rich at that time) but that did not stop them from having access to information and entertainment. They had newspaper and radio in place of local TV or satellite TV. They had less time to watch TV but had plenty to watch over their children’s education and work.

At times, what is needed by these lowly paid laborers is not a TV channel for entertainment but rather a way out from the confines of poverty and hardship.

(The 2nd MCLM candidate is better than a couple PR politicians and several dozen BN politicians and share with ideals with his father, the late M.G.G. Pillai. Image source: http://alhaj.wordpress.com)

MCLM’s 2nd Candidate

If you have been following up Malaysia Today, you know about the “Third Force” and there is some positive development with the Third Force:-

The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) has named human rights lawyer Sreekant Pillai as the second person from its movement to contest in the next general election.

Sreekant said he had chosen to be independent because “the current government has nothing more it can offer to the people and the existing parties are not doing what the rakyat wants”. Sreekant is the son of the late veteran journalist M.G.G. Pillai.

(Source)

I know Sreekant Pillai personally and I dare say that if there is one candidate that worth our votes in the next general election, he would be the one. Although one would see the Third Force as a potential cause of hung Parliament and question the composition of candidates of MCLM todate (2 candidates and both are lawyers), I think it is pertinent to see what we have now. Quality of politicians that we voted in to Parliament in the last election has been todate…shameful.

No doubt the arrogance and reckless mismanagement of the country have toned down after there is stronger presence of the opposition in the Parliament, these politicians still need to be reminded that at end of the day, it is the interest of the people that matters the most (especially after certain politicians have sold off the voters trust to jump political party).

MCLM may provide that gap and enforcement of getting the right people for the job.

Chennai Trip – Conclusion


(Been lagging lately due to work and other assignments and holidays)

(The Chennai International Airport’s departure area – brightly lighted and well furnished but the crowd can still give you an headache. Sorry, no photos of the secured areas – the officers looked too menacing and strict)

I kind of have forgotten to do the conclusion for this post, so here is it…

The trip to Chennai came to a quick end for my wife – she did not have enough of the shopping but as far as I was concerned, I was looking for a safe return back to Malaysia. I already was missing the good, clean food and the weather back home.

The hired 4 wheel drive that suppose to pick us early was no where to be seen and I was getting worried. It was almost an hour drive from the apartment to the airport and I had no idea how was the traffic from the apartment to the airport at that point of time. The last thing I need is for us to miss the flight because we got stuck in a traffic jam. Our Indian relative noticed my facial expression as I kept looking out the window for the ride. The uncle (the head of the family) started to make some phone calls and it was not long before, I saw a white 4WD snaking along the narrow lane in front of the apartment.

Getting our luggage down from the apartment was made extra difficult – compounded by the fact we had extra “kilograms” added after several days of shopping (which is why we had extra but empty luggage brought from home). With the minutes ticking away and in the mid of the Chennai heat, we had to bring down the overweight luggage rather quickly – I think we damaged some part of the luggage. We managed to load the luggage into the car and we were off to the airport without further delays.

Chennai airport was still undergoing renovations so the departure area was still a nightmare. We had to park far away from the actual departure entrance and there was no luggage trolley at sight. Thankfully our relatives walked around and managed to find some empty trolleys. Customer service sucked big time – no porters helping out and the crowd outside looks so disorganized. We bid “goodbye” and “thank you” to our host in Chennai who been very generous and helpful during our stay in Chennai and headed towards the check-in gates. I could see a long queue at the very entrance of the terminal – things were not looking too good.

Out of the many security scanners around, only one was working so imagine the chaos. The many lines converged into one and some of the passengers were rather ruthless – despite seeing small children at the queue, they just push ahead, pushing the small children aside and jumping queue. The security guys near the scanners did not do much to ease down the mess. Anyway, we managed to cross over the line without any “bad incidents” and headed towards the MAS check in counters. Once again, we confronted another chaos here – the local MAS staff did not really cared about the queue, leaving us to fight over to get the right line – kind of reminded me of this.

The staffs at the counter looked inexperienced and were facing problems with passengers insisting to check in their overweight luggage without the need to pay for it. The staff also looked lost when had to print out the boarding passes for the passengers who are on transit. Pity the young lady at the front of us who had to transit in KLIA and had to take another flight to Australia. That delay caused us to loose some good seats – we did not get seats in the same row but we managed get at least one seat by the window. We sorted out the seats so that we arranged the window side seat for the “Big Boss”. That made the day for my son even though it was a night flight and he cannot see much once we are up in the air.

With the boarding passes at hand, we headed towards the immigrant checkpoint. From afar, we were given immigrant exit form and advised to fill up in full (the word “full was strongly stressed). So, we did as was advised, but not some of the locals who thought their names will get them through the immigrant with breeze. They had half filled forms and tried to talk their way through.

The senior looking uncle at the gate before immigration counters looked fragile and weak but he amazed us when he stopped some people at their tracks and asked them to fill up the form first. He did not even moved a bit when the stubborn locals raised their voice and tried to use their “connection” powers. They were told to buzz off and come back with fully filled form. We later found out that the old, fragile looking man is the head of the immigration at the airport – no wonder he can stand up to the nonsense put up by the locals. The immigration officers were professional and courteous – they even chit chat with my son as he stood in line to get his passport stamped.

(The “Big Boss” managed to get his seat of choice on the return flight and soon got busy with the in-flight entertainment system)

Another round of security – mostly handled by officers from northern side of India and they were very strict about this. Despite the long queue and security check that seems to be taking forever, we appreciated the strict and detailed checking. After the horrors in Mumbai, the last thing we need is some bomb blast by a crazy terrorist in Chennai airport.

The waiting area was jam packed but we managed to get a nice cozy spot. We decided against any purchase of souvenirs at the airport because 1. The price was a nonsense (it was also 10 times more than the normal price) and 2. The “duty free” shop was manned by someone who looked like some drug peddler at some back lane (read dirty clothes and harsh language).

Boarding announcement was rather rudimentary and before we know it, a long line started to form. Good thing was we already anticipated this and stood somewhere at the front of the queue. We had to pass another security checkpoint before we reached our seats – I felt proud to be a Malaysian as the Indian passengers were fast appreciating the clean interior of the MAS cabin and high quality service from the award winning cabin crew. There was some delay before the plane can take off – as usual, some idiots went missing and the rest of us had to wait for them. Then after almost 10 minutes, we were ready to take off.

The big boss soon got busy with the in-flight entertainment system and he rarely slept during the journey back. The flight back home was not that long and the MAS cabin crew service was top notch as usual – pity them having to deal with those Indian passengers who probably taking the plane for the first time. Some of the idiots were so busy drinking away beer and wine throughout the flight and just before we landed, we hit turbulence and these idiots immediately puked on their seats (did they know how to use the disposal vomit bag?). I saw a couple of them, drenched with nasty vomit all over their pants and shoes and thankfully none of them was too near to us – otherwise they would have gotten nasty blow to their head as well. Hmmm, perhaps I should add this to my list here.

That rather messy incident was the conclusion of my very first trip to Chennai (and India) and I must say that it was eye-opening trip. My wife got her shopping done and we all had a great time in time, largely thanks to our Chennai host. And since I have been to Chennai once, I know which pitfalls that I need to avoid the next time around.

Read the whole series here

Chennai Trip – Part 7


Follow Part 1 onwards from here

(The main entrance to the 300 plus years old temple – Click for higher resolution photo here)

A trip to India will not be complete without a trip to the majestic and historical temples, right?

So, even though our mission in Chennai was purely for shopping and other non-religious activities, we decided to visit at least one temple so as to “complete” the trip to India. We decided to visit the nearby Kapaleeshwarar Temple which was “walking distant” from the apartment.

It was rather a historical temple as per the entry below:-

The age of the temple is the source of much debate. The commonly held view is that the temple was built in the 7th century CE by the ruling Pallavas, based on references to the temple in the hymns of the Nayanmars (which however place it at the shore).

It is an example of the beautiful architecture of Pallavas. Further, the architecture of the temple appears to be 300–400 years old.

The scholarly view that accounts for the discrepancies is that the original temple was built on the shore at the location of the current Santhome Church but was destroyed by the Portuguese, and the current temple (which is 1-1.5 km from the shore) was built more recently. A small minority of people believe that the original temple was indeed on the beach, but that the sea has receded over centuries.

The Vijayanagar Kings rebuilt the temple during the 16th century. The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.

(Source: Wikipedia)

(The door in the interior part of the temple certainly looks old…very old. I was afraid to touch it)

An inscription at the entrance of the temple states this:-

Ptolemy, the great Geographer (AD 90-168) has referred to Mylapore in his books as Maillarpha, a well known sea port town with a flourishing trade. Saint Tiruvalluvar, the celebrated author of Tirukkural, the world-famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2000 years ago.

The Saivite Saints of the 7th century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St.Thomas, one of the Apostles of Jesus, is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd Century A.D

Mylapore fell into the hands of the Portuguese in A.D.1566, when the temple suffered demolition; the present temple was rebuilt 300 years ago. There are some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple, still found in the present shrine and in St.Thomas Cathedral

The temple was indeed old and historical and since we are already staying nearby and it is “off-peak” season, we decided to visit it despite busy with shopping.

(The sun was not that high but who want to walk bare feet on hot rocky floor? The “mat” helped a bit but we had to run, not walk to get to the other part. Malaysian temples fared better with proper roofing and beautiful cooler tiles)

We started early in the evening when the sun is not high and there was a cold breeze. Just when we were about to enter the temple, my son wanted a drink. We looked around and found that 5 – 6 shops that were facing the temple were selling nothing but religious things. None of them was enterprising enough to sell bottled drinking water. I had to walk all the way to a small sundry shop near the main road just to get couple of mineral water bottles.

We walked in after “surrendering” our shoes to the shoe guardian at the front – no token was given and the shoe guardian was busy chit-chatting with his friend. We were expecting our shoes to go missing when we returned. We realised that there was no place to wash our feet – people just walk in (from whatever place they had stepped on earlier) and start doing their prayers. We felt it was odd since in Malaysia, every temple would have a place to wash up before we can start with the prayers. Here we have one of the famous temples in the area and no place to wash our feet before doing prayers. It was no wonder the temple ground looked dirty especially those surrounding the deities. Clearly someone has missed the part on cleanliness but then again, we remember that this was India where anything goes.

With no place to wash our feet, we used some of the mineral water that we had and we opted to wipe our feet on a sorry looking rag and with a heavy heart, proceeded to do the prayers.

(Sorry for low resolution, poor quality photo but those f@#kers at the front insisted us on paying a load of money before we can take photos. A load of rupees may mean nothing to wealthy Western tourists but not for budget concerned Malaysians. Good thing that hand phones these days comes with a reasonable quality built-in camera)

There were plenty of signboards forbidding people from taking photos in the temple grounds. There were also signboards that stated that if one pays x amount of rupees, photography is allowed. We smell sham miles away and I instead opted to snap the interior on my mobile phone (I only took out my DSLR as we were walking out and even so, got into an argument with a guy who insisted us to pay. Thankfully a holier looking man came to our rescue and told the guy off. He too questioned the notion of charging people for taking photos. He then smiled at us and we thought an angel had come to our rescue).

The architecture of the temple structure is simply brilliant and there was an aura of mystery and historical. I loved the carvings on the wall and ceiling and wondered how craftsmen hundreds of years ago have worked on it. Most looked too ancient especially the part when it is said that made from the older structure. There was a feeling of a magical aura surrounding us when we stepped into the interior. When we walked in, we thought we were already been transported to ancient India.

(The very interior of the temple – I was speechless when I saw the sunlight rays beaming in from the small opening in the roof. The interior air smelled ancient but it was not that bad. It was not that crowded as well – thank God! If it has been during major religious season, the crowd inside this small area would have been lethal – there is only one small entrance for way in and way out)

We walked around, completing our prayers and felt somehow fulfilled. Since the ground is not clean to sit down and take our breath (and say silent prayers), we decided to leave the temple earlier. We walked out and noticed a couple of souvenir shops – we decided to hop over and check it out (some prayer items in Malaysia can be too expensive, so better to buy cheaper ones in India). We bought some items – it was cheap but not as cheap as we found out later – the fact that we were foreigners meant the prices of the items to increase immediately.

To be continued…

Temples vs Schools


Actually this is something that me and my cousin have in our minds for some time now…

(Having beautiful temples is good but having better educated students is better – Image source: http://media.merchantcircle.com)

This will be, in my opinion, one of the best ideas to come when it comes to our fellow Indians’ behaviour with donation money and temples.

From Raged Indian:-

Why build thousands of temples when our Indian children can’t even afford to go to the school? Why the fuck do we need air conditioned temple? So that people will call our God ‘cool’ eh? The Tamil schools don’t even have a ceiling fan, and we have fully tiled expensive marble temples all over the country?

We have the biggest statue in the world, and we also have the first school to be located in shop houses. We point our fingers towards the politician, but shouldn’t we be looking in the mirror? The change should be with us. We’re the one to be blamed.

We hesitate to give to another human being, but we do not hesitate to give it to God. When had God used your money? He do not need your pocket money all la! If you’re saying by donating directly to the school, the schools might misuse the money; then what about all the money you give out to the temple; it goes to Lord Sivan’s pocket is it?

We are so scared about God and punishment that we eventually forget what He said in the first place, to help fellow human beings first, not Him. He does not need your fruits, rice or any other things. We, humans are the one who need it. We give out so many offerings to the God, using our hard earned cash, when none of them realistically would reach God.

Ayya veke ayam, attha veke atte kutiyum vettenethe pothum pa…

Annual festival in the temple and you take part in as much as ‘Abishegam’ (ceremonies) as possible. You pay between RM 51 to sometimes as higher as RM 1001 for something that is solely based on your faith. Is there a price for faith? Will God not accept prayers from the poor?

If all this funds can be redirected to schools, imagine how many thousands of children would study in a much more excellent condition than below cramped and hot classrooms?

It is a noble idea especially people have been bugging me to donate “generously” to temples and especially on certain days of the year so that me and my family will get that “extra” blessings. Well, it has not be to only Indian students but to any Malaysian students who been derived of proper environment for better educations. Poor students in schools, facilities depleted schools and struggling charity homes should take precedent to cash rich temples.

Further, with many small temples still hesitating to merge with other smaller temples and create a more efficient temple administration, depriving them of the extra cash in yearly festival donations may just be the trigger to force them to merge into one bigger temple.

Read Also

Temple Fiasco Revisited

Samy Vellu & RM50 Million?

Hindraf Rally Remembered


(Government’s response to Hindraf’s 2007 Rally. Image source: http://www.skthew.com)

25th November 2009 marks the 2nd anniversary of the unprecedented street rally by Indians under the now “banned but not crippled” organisation called Hindraf in this country.

From Wikipedia:-

The 2007 Hindraf rally was a rally held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 25, 2007.

The rally organizer, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The rally was the second such street protest after the 2007 Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 10, 2007.

The rally started when a crowd estimated to be between 5,000 to 30,000 people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning. At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released.

Read Hindraf rally related posts:-

Hindraf protest – realistic way out?

Hindraf – not the end of the story

Hindraf – a year end thought

Hindraf – police and road blocks

Hindraf – a thorn that won’t go away

When Hindraf took to the streets in November 2007, certainly it was not done overnight. Hindraf existed long before that and often in thick of actions when it comes to demolishment of temples particularly in the state of Selangor.

Hindraf is a coalition of 30 Hindu non-governmental organizations committed to the preservation of Hindu community rights and heritage in a multiracial Malaysia (source)

Demolishment of temples under the old Selangor MB, Khir Toyo was one of the catalysts for the organisation to take the matter to the streets.

The case against Hindraf

The rally itself was tainted with accusations of being highly racist (that it only takes care of Indians and not Malaysians in general) and was not helped by the fact that Hindraf was trying to seek help from a foreign sovereign instead of the Malaysian King who in fact is our real sovereign (which many called it as treason on the highest order) and some of the demands in the full list of demands was worded too extreme and unreasonable.

The police at one point even painted that there was a connection between Hindraf and the Tamil Elam Tigers who were fighting for separate state in Sri Lanka but it was a case that was never proven to this day.

Hindraf vs MIC

One of the biggest implications of the Hindraf’s rally, in my opinion, was that it created a room for many Indians to start questioning the role of MIC when it comes to the welfare of Indians in this country. Long before there was general election and long before MIC realised the lost of Indian support in the ballot box, there was already Hindraf movement all over the country participating in prayers in the many temples and getting involved when there are any issues affecting the community.

Hindraf’s role in getting involved in the community’s issues was a role that I think MIC could have played more effectively but with older issues like the Telekom shares remains unsettled, many have lost confidence in MIC’s ability to continue to champion the plight of the community. Hindraf provided the alternative avenue. What more when there was a lack of coordination and solution provided when it faced with demolishment of temples in Selangor? This is why PKR, DAP and even PAS managed to grab the big swing in Indian voters during the general election.

Makkal Sakthi

Another implication that resulted from Hindraf rally and before that with Bersih and protest against toll hike was the high handedness of the government when it comes to dealing with dissent voices of the people. Instead of friendly dialogue, forum or close knit communication, the response was often come in form of arrests, tear gas, water cannon and arrogant discard of issues. The Hindraf leaders were promptly arrested under the ISA and spent almost 2 years in custody. There was a clear lack of engagement between the government with the people and the problems facing all Malaysians.

The cry “Makkal Sakthi” (or People’s Power) became famous battle cry during the last general election and it has impact on all walk of life (not limiting to Indians under Hindraf). As V mentioned in the movie V for Vendetta

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people”

Next chapter

Admittedly Hindraf is now seen has lost their core objective, mainly due to several reasons such as some of the states where they were very active such as Perak and Selangor have fallen into the opposition hands, there has been more swing towards Indian welfare and focus on the problems faced by the community by the government under Najib’s administration and more importantly, due to breakup of Hindraf itself into many small factions including one who formed their own political party.

Hindraf’s rally for right or wrong, did achieve one thing that it was meant to do – that is to create awareness, both for the government and for the Indians who been ignorant of the issues facing the community.

Thankfully things are better under the Pakatan Rakyat’s administration (except perhaps on the Kampung Buah Pala incident) and to some extent, under Najib’s administration.

It is hoped that the government irregardless it is from BN or PR, to engage the issues with more conviction and effective rather than silencing them in swift harsh actions. Otherwise, Malaysians will be far from being one as Bangsa Malaysia and street rallies like the one organised by Hindraf will be part of our daily life.

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Deepavali Abroad


sunset

Photos – (no photo of the restaurant or the food but will take it on the next trip there) Sunset reflected off the window of our apartment. The dust is a major irritation here.

I can’t recall but this is probably the third time I am celebrating Deepavali far from home and family

The first year I did that was quite painful especially when my son had just born and it suppose to be the first year to celebrate it as one family. But work assignment and professional commitment took priority and we had to postpone our celebrations after I came back from abroad. Deepavali was a gloomy day on both ends.

The second time was not that painful as my family had now got accustomed to my travels and long stay abroad. However I miss the moments the night before, cleaning and decorating the house and the morning where one would wake up early, take oil bath and after prayers, sit down for a hot thosai and spicy chicken curry.

My wife has been telling that my son was more excited this year for Deepavali as he wanted to play fireworks. Shopping has been kept to a minimum and probably there will be some visits from friends and other family members. I hope that my son will enjoy his fireworks and without hurting himself. I recall me and my cousins doing crazier things with fireworks when we were young.

Celebrating abroad is painful but it is soften a bit by friends who made the trouble to look for Indian Restaurant here in Tehran. We probably walked 3 kilometres before found one. The restaurant tucked away near a hotel was well furnished with decorations of India. We were greeted by well dressed Punjabi man who we guess was also the manager of the restaurant.

The décors looked expensive and so did the prices on the menu list. We looked for the cheapest item on the menu – briyani and the taste or the portion did not disappoint us. Chicken briyani (plus drink and service tax) went for almost 140,000 rials whilst mutton briyani went for 160,000 rials (1 ringgit is about 2,800 rials). We promised ourselves that we need to dig into their chicken / mutton curries on the next trip.

For those who are celebrating Deepavali, Happy Deepavali and for the rest, I wish Happy Holidays…

(To be continued)