Thursday, August 4, 2011


By Mansor Puteh

Some Indians in Malaysia liked to hold large portraits of Gandhi when they staged their rallies or demonstrations. Would Gandhi have endorsed what they were doing? How many of them had actually paid homage to Gandhi by visiting his grave outside of New Delhi called ‘Samadhi’?

How many of them practice what he preached when he was alive, wearing and eating simply? Who despite being trained as a lawyer and admitted to the British Bar, later chose to speak in his mother tongue – Marathi?  

Ironically, the Indians in India have not done so in a long while. In fact, they have not been known to carry portraits of Gandhi in like manner.

In fact, the Indians are only those found in India, since they are citizens of the country; they cannot be found elsewhere, because Indians are the nationalities of the country, and they are not a race as such! Much like the Chinese who are the nationality of China and they are not a race, too!

And I have visited India few times and China only once, compared to the many ‘Indians’ and ‘Chinese’ in Malaysia who might not have visited the countries of their ancestors even once, other than seeing them on television and films.

Despite trying to wrest India from Britain by resorting to peaceful means, the truth remains that the path to independence of India from British colonial rule was marked with intense violence, leading to the splitting of Indian into two, and then three countries.

So although Gandhi has often been described to be a man of peace, some of his followers were not, who destroyed his peace mission to pieces.

This is as opposed to the more peaceful methods engaged by Tunku Abdul Rahman who used his negotiating skills to wrest independence for Malaya and got it without spilling a drop of blood, as he liked to describe Malaya’s path to independence.

So in a way, of the two independence leaders and fathers of their respective countries, who also studied law in England, it was Tunku was more successful than Gandhi.

And because of that Tunku was not given the same international recognition as did Gandhi simply because Tunku’s efforts to get his country’s independence was not too dramatic enough to attract the attention of the international media then, who were craving to see the blood of the Melayu, Indians and Chinese, which did not happen until much later during the Emergency and Japanese Occupation of Malaya.  

It is therefore strange why they like to do this since Gandhi is not a Malaysian icon, but an Indian one, with Indian here being used as a nationality since it is not a race as such.

Why can’t the Indians in Malaysia, carry the portraits of Sambanthan or Manikavasagam instead who are local Indians and not one from Motherland India? 

What did Gandhi do to provoke the Melayu? He had never visited Malaysia or Malaya then. (Malays are Melayu under British rule.)

The truth is that the Indians in Malaysia do not have any real heroes that they can seek their support from. So Gandhi became their convenient choice.

But how many of the Indians here are willing and am able to do what Gandhi had done, by wearing loin cloth, as what the English had described him? No one.

And for that matter, how many of the Indian leaders in Malaysia are willing to be a ‘Gandhi’, living in almost in the state of poverty and wearing loin cloths without flaunting his wealth?

The Malaysian Indian community may be described as a little behind the rest, but their leaders seem to be among the top in financial standing.

Yet, they are claiming to represent the Indians in Malaysia, whom they like to portray as the underdogs who are often left behind in the development of the country.

How can such persons represent the downtrodden amongst the majority of the Indians when their financial as well as social statuses are very high even when compared with the other races, particularly the Chinese, and also amongst many in India?

When they first started to go into politics, they were almost like everybody with unimpressive academic backgrounds and financial standing. But within a short period of time, they became fabulously wealthy and now living in mini-palaces while those who support them continue to stuck in the rut.

The Indians, especially, should take stock of who they are and why they should not trust them anymore; they had become a laughing stock of the Indian community for having become wealthy while pretending to represent the majority of the Indians who are not so well-off, economically.

The Indians, generally, have been trusting the wrong persons, the Indian leaders whom they had trusted their future at, but who have failed them miserably.

And the irony is that, the small group of Indian middle class seems to have deserted their own community whose charity they had benefited from, and who now choose not to speak in Tamil anymore, but in English.

Look at the successful and more prominent Indian lawyers, who are mostly Tamils and Punjabis who do not feel comfortable speaking in Tamil or Punjabi in public and have not been known to be good orators in these languages.

It’s the same with the Chinese professionals and especially their more vocal types, who also feel embarrassed speaking in Mandarin or Cantonese, and who have become too westernized. They can also be charged for having deserted their Chinese community like the Indians had.

There are some Melayu who are also like that, but fortunately, generally the successful Melayu do not behave in like manner. The reason being their religion, Islam, has become their guiding light. And because Islam does not encourage class division as such, that even the successful Melayu do not feel uncomfortable speaking in Melayu despite some of them having lived abroad most of their lives.

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