Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Lesson The Gov't Didn't Learn

Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan
Nov 26, 07 4:46pm

I refer to the Hindraf rally that took place in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. In a nutshell, I am very disappointed with both the organisers and the police.

I feel the police and the government is largely responsible for turning what could have been a positive event into a disaster. Malaysia seems to be globally popular for the wrong reasons. Yesterday's action by the government and police further reinforce international opinion about Malaysia.
Let us scan what is written in the major newspapers around the world and see how they have reported the the event:

CNN: Malaysia clashes - Malaysian police tried to disperse more than 10,000 ethnic Indians who tried to stage a rally, demanding equal rights.

Al Jazeera: Police break up Malaysia protest - Malaysian police have fired tear gas and water cannons to break up a massive street demonstration by ethnic Indians in the country's largest city, Kuala Lumpur ... Rally organiser, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays.

BBC: Ethnic Indian protesters in Malaysia are calling for reparations from the UK for sending Indians to Malaysia as indentured labourers a century ago.

Singapore Straits Times: Kuala Lumpur police fire tear gas to halt protest - Malaysian police used tear gas and water cannons on Sunday to quell a street protest by more than 10,000 ethnic Indians complaining of government discrimination against their community.

From what I see, except for Malaysiakini, all the papers has given a slanted and negative view of the scenario. Why did this happen? I believe this happened because the politicians sitting in their almighty offices at Putrajaya were not given the right advice. I also believe they need to attend a crash course on public relations. The foreign media will snap up any news features that will help sell its papers. From what I see, all the major international news organisations like CNN, BCC and Al Jazeera has portrayed a negative picture of the government.

In reality:
  1. Hindraf wants to submit a memorandum and had organised a peaceful gathering for that purpose.

  2. The government and the police should have allowed the gathering with conditions attached to ensure peace and safety.

  3. The image of the Malaysian government would have been enhanced if the police and organisers sat down to find ways to make it a positive event.

  4. The police act of creating roadblocks and selectively stopping Indians at these roadblocks had angered more Indians and other Malaysians due to the traffic jam. This actually made more Indians participate in the gathering.

  5. The ministers making threatening remarks as highlighted in the local media actually further fueled the tension and emotions.

  6. Distorted stories in the streets makes things worst for ethnic relations in this country. It is now being gossiped as an Indian versus Malay problem.
I would like to appeal to all, including the government, police and event organisers, to look at the request objectively and accommodate requests for gatherings with common sense. I think if the police and the organisers agreed for the event to be held in an indoor stadium and arranged for the British high commissioner to accept the memorandum at a stadium, it would have turned out well for Malaysia at large.

As for the MIC, I feel they should have played a greater and more positive role in this matter. Instead, Uncle Samy makes things worst for MIC and himself by taking a cheap shot at the Indian community that took part in the demonstrations.


multidimid said...

And the reactions from the MIC side to the Hindraf Rally Protest. The MIC President being spurned by the leaders could only says he was “sad but not angry”. He further claimed that PM Abdullah has “never shut his eyes or ears to their plight “then what happened to the 18-point Memo that was submitted to PM’s PutraJaya Office more than 3 months ago on 12th Aug 2007. Shredded and thrown in the waste paper basket?
And for the first time when an MIC MP (Cameron Highlands) opened his mouth to express his concerns on the Indian Plight in the country (that was so glaringly highlighted in the Sunday Rally protester” he was told curtly to resign from the MIC by an UMNO Minister. So what hope is there through legitimate means except by “streets demo”?

What did the IGP said about this mistreatment of protesters -‘we only use the water and also the tear gas to disperse them but there was no body contact.”

Read closely the transcript of what the IGP said in the interview he had with Al Jazeera and the perceived fears of a “racial clash” rearing it ugly head. And the most unkind cut or joke by the IGP is about “the absence of leaders” to hand in the Memo when he has virtually “arrested” and frightened them with the restraining order. And the latest twist & spin is his claim they have “no intention” to hand in the memo.
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gangeticus said...

You said it multidimid!