Friday, May 3, 2013

P. Waythamoorthy - a letter just for you

By:  Choo Sing Chye

Waythamoorthy, now that the 13th Elections is over, I hoped that you have passed the grade set by Najib’s government. 

Believe me, Waythamoorthy, there can never be a bright future for us in  Malaysia if we do not see and treat ourselves as brothers and sisters.

No one brother or sister can walk alone leaving their siblings in destitute, and at the same time holding their heads high.

It is inevitable that our society changes, but what matters is whether there is real change or just make-believe.  

P. Waythamoorthy, you wrote significantly on the loss of the  Ladang Batu Pekaka Hindu Burial Ground in Kedah in 2011 and the terrible cultural  impact that it had exacted on the Indian Community there.

Unfortunately this problem has its roots stretching back to late 1880’s.  In fact in 1939, the then Malaya sent a delegate to India to hold talks with the Chief Minister of Madras, C. Rajagopalachari.  The Malayan Deputy Controller of Labour drew up a budget showing how the rate of 33 cents a day was quite adequate for an Indian worker.  Rajaji replied: 

I see that you have provided for every contingency, but not for his funeral expenses.  The Malayan Chief Secretary assured: "The Malayan Government will see to it, Sir."   (1)

Regrettably, the Malayan Government then and now Malaysia could only see to it, but had done nothing.

Even through the mid sixties, this problem still persist.  I spent my entire childhood living in the Hospital Labourer Quarters and it was near the old hospital mortuary.  Thus, inevitably,  my childhood was centred around it.

There was an Indian labourer who was given two jobs.  One, was to cart the dead  from the hospital to the mortuary and two, he had to make crude coffins for the unclaimed dead.

Majority of the unclaimed dead were old Indians, aged between 60 to 75 years and most of the time found by the roadside.  If we do our maths right, these poor souls would have come to Malaya in the mid 20’s, and spent their prime life slaving for the filthy rich planters.    And when they outlived their usefulness, they were left by the roadside to die.  

Nobody knew their names or who they were? The only possession they had were the worn out clothes which they were still wearing. We do not know which part of India  he came from, but at least we know how he was brought in.

According to K. Tambisamy, Manager of the Rawang Mines and a contractor, reported to an Enquiry Commission in 1890, the method of recruitment:

I was sent over to India in 1886 to recruit coolies for (the Malayan) Government, and from the experience then gained I can con­fidently assert that not one single coolie who leaves India knows the real value of the rupee in this country, nor the cost of living here. The recruiters are, scoundrels to a man; they, not only make gross misrepresentations to the intending emigrants, but even employ force to bring them over. I cannot quote any specific instance of this, but I have myself seen men dragged from the depot to the steamer by force in the presence of Police Officers, who raised no remonstrance." (2)

Waythamoorthy , after 15 grueling days of campaigning with  BN, you would be certainly sucked into their ruse.  You would definitely  be enlightened firsthand by the fact that their subservient press and electronic media obligingly played up the political deception of  telling the rakyat that BN is their saviour and  they should be grateful to the Barisan Nasional government.

Remember Waythamoorthy, it's the same press and electronic media that demeans you and your Hindraf in 2007.

Uncannily eighty years ago in 1947,  the filthy rich planters from the United  Planting Association of Malaya (UPAM) said the same very thing to the estate Indians.  Strange?

UPAM told the estate Indians that:  

Your lot is happier than in any other countries. Where in the world will you find an industry that finds free lodging, free medical attention, space for gardens to grow your own vegetables, ground to graze your cattle free, and plenty of firewood for nothing?  How many of you Indians have seen the pathetically low standard of living of millions of your brothers in India, and how many of you Chinese know of the frightful conditions in China ? ...  It should be remembered that an increase in wage is no cure for conditions that are ruling today. An increase in wages causes the price of food and all other commodities to increase." (3)

Is your “lot”  a lot happier with the BN government even if they come in the shape of  Ravana ?

No, Waythamoorthy, the Malaysian Hindu community is a lot happier if help comes in the form of goodness and strong righteous principles, that’s the reason why they seek blessings from Lord Rama in temples across the land.

Photos of the May day Ceramah in Buntong, Ipoh.  A huge mix crowd of Indians and Chinese attended this Ceramah.   Speakers, Ambiga, Kit Siang, Kulasegaran, Nga Kor Ming and others.

1.         “Indians in Malaya, Historical Facts and Figures, Geogre Netto,
Self published, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, P30
2.       Ibid., P26

3.       Ibid., P76