Video of the Hindraf Rally & Thoughts On Bringing Britain In (Updated)
Al-Jareeza's report of the rally this morning is here. A video of a protest in August, a preamble to this one, is here.
"Under the shadow of the Petronas Towers, the symbol of modern Malaysia," as the newsreader says, history was made. And is going to keep being made in the coming days and weeks. But how the video ends bothers me: "Sunday's demonstration shows how peace sometimes has to be imposed." What does that mean? A peaceful gathering by the People is stopped through violent means by a cruel and inegalitarian government -- is that violence honestly justifiable so as to continue the illusion of a superficial "peace"?
Didn't bother to read most of the comments on the videos, as I know how forums like these usually go, but one did catch my eye -- telling Malaysian Indians to go back to India is exactly like telling African-Americans to go back to Africa. They are by no means a new diaspora. And historically, many Indians did move to Malaysia in servitude, a condition which exists on economic terms to this day. The slow simmer of post-Independence (1957) decades and pre-independence centuries came to a head today in no small way. Between this and the BERSIH rally, Malaysia has clearly entered a period of people asserting their power, government be damned. Things are happening in Malaysia at a fast and furious pace. I fear for my loved ones. But this is something that was going to happen, sooner or later.
Flickr photosets on the Hindraf rally and the BERSIH rally.
SOME THOUGHTS ON BRINGING BRITAIN INTO THE PICTURE:
Personally, while I see the see sense from an international awareness angle, i.e. that holding Britain accountable essentially creates interest in the international press, I do have my doubts about the on-the-ground results and effectiveness in changing the situation for Malaysian racial minorities (it is important to remember that Malaysian Malays are privileged over all other races, not just the Indians, legally. It so happens that Indians are at the bottom of the food chain because of various historical forces).
A feature of colonization is the divide-and-conquer rule. That's what all sorts of colonizers have always done. Like a devious matriarch pitting her children against one another so a united front against her own misdeeds never forms, it is a tactical move that is as part and parcel of imperialism as, say, the English language.
Fifty years after independence, blaming the former British empire for its actions is nothing but nostalgic propagandizing. They did what they did, we fought our way out of it, and then we do what we can despite our scars. I say "we" because India was obviously also under the empire, and the fact that our states are segregated linguistically and the existence of Pakistan and Bangladesh as separate nations attest to the long-term effects of the divide-and-conquer rule. It is not something unique to Malaysia alone, and in fact, has been practised elsewhere to even more obvious consequences.
But in Malaysia today, fifty years after freedom from colonial rule (some say forty-four, but that is only an aside here), apartheid exists out of the choice of those in power today. And out of the choice of people who continue to vote for the people in power today. Queen Elizabeth isn't sending missives to Putrajaya ordering discrimination, unfair laws, mistreatment.
So what I hope for is that Hindraf knows this, and that targeting Britain is in fact part of a tactical strategy of its own, and expecting returns from that focuses priorities in an idealistic, unpragmatic way. Pinning the blame on Britain, if followed through completely, detracts from the reality that it is the Malay-run government and its supporters who divide the country today.
Free of colonial rule, it is our own responsibilities as former subjects to decolonize ourselves. Expecting the colonizer to do this is to allow them to once again rule.
Update 2: Ultrabrown has a detailed post with many links, exploring both current events and historical ones. It also links to an article in which I was one of the people interviewed, which I never posted on my blog because I was not too happy about some factual inaccuracies.
Update 3 (Nov 26): When I first began following the unethical temple demolitions issue, which was arguably what the breaking point that led to the rally was, I remember saying in discussions that the issue was not just race but class. It was temples in disenfranchised areas that fell victim. "The day it happens to Batu Caves is when we'll know things have taken the most grim turn ever, because then we'll know that even money and influence can't stop what's coming," I used to say. Jeff Ooi's blog shows that day was yesterday.