As a Malaysian living abroad, I am troubled by the electoral scenario unfolding at home. We have to choose between, on the one hand, a leader of government whose family and associates have been implicated in criminal proceedings on the global stage on a scale that threatens to beggar our nation. On the other, as challengers, we have two former political combatants, who between them are responsible for sowing the nearly all the seeds of our contemporary dysfunction. Indeed these two have accused each other heinous offences – one of corruption on a scale that, if adjusted for inflation would approach that of the current debacle, and the other of homosexual acts that are abhorrent to both the law and the official religion of the land. Nevertheless, choose we must and I too have a favorite in the race. All this is, however, just context for the kernel of my post – as as much as I am a Malaysian abroad, I am also an Indian!
What I really want to raise here is my disappointment at not hearing the issue of Indian statelessness being raised sufficiently loudly at this possibly, however marginally, opportune moment for Indians in Malaysian politics. As far as I can measure this is the gravest Indian problem that needs to be addressed by our polity. What else is there that we need as a community while our brethren remain stateless – equality as citizens, favourable quotas, strengthened Tamil language education, projects and contracts, all these possible Indian asks seem hollow to me, while there are those of us who have for generations been left stateless on mere technicalities. As lawyer Eric Paulson has put it “While these people of Indian origin are not denounced as non-citizens by the authorities, they are nonetheless stateless as they are not considered citizens under the operation of law.” If indeed, we Indians are still a force of consequence in the national equation, then this is what we should want, what we should demand. Before we worry about anything else Indian Malaysians should fight for the status for our kin. I venture to suggest that even financial corruption on the scale alleged and believed by many to have come to pass in our nation today, pales in comparison to the moral bankruptcy of a set of communal concerns that does not foreground and prioritize this matter.