Friday, January 11, 2008

Media plays up Malaysian Indian issues

by B. Suresh Ram
NEW DELHI: An inaccurate wire service report that Malaysia has banned the intake of Indian workers has again ignited a debate in the Indian media despite the government’s clarifi cation that there was no such ban.

Both print and electronic media have been playing up the report and linking it to the Nov 25 Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) rally and to arguments that Malaysian Indians are marginalised. Hindustan Times, in an editorial titled “Malaise in Malaysia” yesterday, claimed that the relationship between Malaysia and India would worsen over the suspension of Indian workers in Malaysia.

The widely-circulated newspaper said people were bound to link any stoppage of the intake of Indian workers with the allegations of discrimination against Malaysian Indians. “Other Southeast Asian countries have assiduously cultivated better relations with India with an eye on its vast and expanding market. If Malaysia does not take corrective measures, it could well lose out on many economic opportunities,” it said.

Hindustan Times said given the number of ethnic Indians in the country, there should be a natural affi nity between the two countries. In another report yesterday, The Times of India quoted several unnamed Malaysian delegates at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divasto (PBD) 2008 conference attended by the Indian diaspora that they were marginalised.

In its report, titled “Expats blame Indian-origin minister for Malaysia row”, it quotes an unnamed Malaysian as alleging that MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had supervised the discrimination of ethnic Indians in Malaysia.

The paper also quoted others who said Malaysian Indians were socially and economically discriminated against.

News channel NDTV 24X7 also had a lengthy discussion on Wednesday night on the reported ban of Indian workers and linked it to Hindraf’s allegation of Malaysian Indian discrimination.

A one-hour poll it conducted, titled “Do Indian workers face discrimination in Malaysia?” resulted in 83% of respondents saying yes.

NDTV 24X7 also hosted a three-member panel, consisting of former Indian high commissioner to Malaysia P.S. Sahai, former director
of the South and South East Asian Studies Centre Prof N. Suryanarayanan, and Scomi Group Bhd’s senior vicepresident Kanesan Vellupillai, who was attending the PBD 2008, to discuss the issue.

Sahai and Kanesan were positive about the steps taken by the Malaysian government but Suryanarayanan said not much has been done to improve the lot of the Indians in Malaysia.

No comments: