Holding up the DNA newspaper of Nov 28, the International Trade and Industry Minister said that the article quoted a 22-year-old Sri Lankan-born poet who had spent 17 years in Malaysia, as saying that she fled Malaysia last month to escape “systematic racial harassment.”Now, what did the poet write that made the Iron Lady so worked up?
“Fleeing Malaysia? Oh my goodness gracious. Can you imagine? This is really telling lies,” Rafidah told reporters yesterday after chairing a Wanita Umno meeting.
Rafidah added that Sharanya had said in the article that “countless (Hindu) temples have been demolished and idols smashed – oftentimes in the middle of prayer sessions and devotees attacked”.
“What a lie. Words like this are terrible. The article really hurts,” she said.
In the article, “The Malaysian Apartheid” which appeared in the 4 December 2007 edition of ‘The New Indian Express’, Sharanya was eloquently wrote that:
…The entire bureaucratic system of Malaysia privileges the Malay above all of these groups.Readers can make their own judgement as to who is closer to telling the truth, and who, on the other hand is covering it up.
Historically, Indians of Malaysian origin have been at the lowest rungs of the race/class ladder because of how they migrated there in the first place, usually in the servitude of the British empire. Post-colonial Malaysia did not only keep the divide-and-conquer system intact, it augmented it, making race essentially the be-all and end-all of everything.
And yes, the Indian minority does have it worst — socially, economically and politically. But under a political system that thrives on division and uses the threat of discord as a means of ensuring silent acquiescence, everybody suffers. To different degrees, admittedly, and a few, maybe not at all.
But by and large, living in a society that judges, rewards and punishes on purely race-based motives takes its toll. To live conscious of inequality makes one a participant, willing or not, victim or not.