Malaysian Hindus are beginning to organise themselves politically and as a start they are trying to save their country from Zakir Naik.
The Chairman of HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force) in Malayasia, P Waythamoorthy, has called for the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee to advise Malaysia to deny fugitive Islamist preacher Zakir Naik a safe haven in the country and to revoke the Permanent Resident (PR) status he enjoys in Malayasia. India’s premier investigative agency, NIA, (National investigative Agency) has recently approached Interpol for a Red Corner Notice against Naik.
“We, in Malaysia, do not want our country to be used for terrorist installations or training camps, or for the preparation or organisation of terrorist acts intended to be committed either domestically or internationally,” Waythamoorthy wrote.
“The ability for Dr Zakir Naik to freely conduct public lecturers in Malaysian universities, public events, associate with local movements to train protégés with his ideology with the blessing of current government leaders does not sit very well with the non-Muslim community as well as a sizeable Muslim community in Malaysia,” he said.
A non-governmental organisation, HINDRAF, which has been fighting for the rights of Indians (predominatly Tamil Hindus) in Malaysia, had recently announced its entry in to politics and its plans to turn itself in to a political party.
HINDRAF secretary Muniandy Ponnusamy said that the decision followed a series of nationwide forums and meetings with the grassroots Indian community.
Malaysia has a population of 24.3 million, separated into four major demographic categories: the Bumiputras, Chinese, Indians and Others. Religion and race
are closely linked in the country. Under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, a Malay is defined as “a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom”. As a consequence of this, all ethnic Malays who are followers of Islam are privileged under the ‘Bumiputra’ policy .
Facing the brunt of this state-sanctioned discriminatory policy were the Malaysian Indians who do not enjoy a high socio-economic status and form a very small minority within Malaysia – just 7.5 per cent (1.8 million) of the total population. 80 per cent of Malayasian Indians are Tamil Hindus and are descendants of those who emigrated from the Indian sub-continent to Malaysia as indentured and unassisted free labour. Their non-Bumiputra status, minuscule numbers, and lack of economic clout has led to their discrimination in an increasingly Islamised Malayasia.
Tamil Muslims, though, prefer to identify themselves with the Malay race to enjoy privileges under the state policy that provides preferences ranging from higher education quotas, public service employment, to business permits for Bumiputra Muslims only. Thousands of Tamil Muslims as a result became more Malay than the Malays themselves.
A broad coalition of 30 Hindu non-government organisations, HINDRAD was formed in early 2006 in response to the Malaysian High Court’s verdict that it had no jurisdiction in the case of an Everest mountaineer and ex-soldier, Moorthy Maniam’s burial.
Moorthy Maniam, who served as a corporal in the Malaysian Army, was among the first group of Malaysians to successfully climb Mount Everest.
In its decision, the court announced that it will not be able to override the country’s Islamic courts in matters of religious conversion. This meant that Moorthy, a born and bred Hindu, was buried as a Muslim because of questionable claims that he had converted to Islam prior to his death. Moorthy’s widow had refuted the claim.
This ruling was a galvanizing moment for the Hindus of Malayasia. The demolition of Hindu temples in the country had already created a huge wave of anger among the Tamil Hindus. Over 79 Hindu temples had been demolished by the Malaysian government since 1957.
On 25 November 2007, HINDRAF attempted a massive mobilisation of disenfranchised Malaysian Indians and organised a protest on the streets of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
It also petition petitioned the British government that as descendants of the Indian indentured as labourers during colonial rule, its members were owed US$4 trillion in compensation.
Five of HINDRAF’s leaders were arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) but subsequently released after months in detention