A political group representing disaffected Malaysian Indians here has left a message for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on its website, reminding him of the "state-sponsored racial and religious segregation" they are allegedly subjected to from "womb to tomb".
But asked about the "discriminatory policies", Singh diplomatically said he had faith that Malaysia — "a multicultural, multireligious democracy" — had the "flexibility" to handle such issues.
The Human Rights Party (HRP) — which had also sought an audience with Singh but did not receive one — is an avatar of the Hindu Rights Action Forum. The Forum had accused the Malaysian government of discrimination against Indian Malaysians and was banned in 2007 and its founder, P Uthayakumar, was jailed for 17 months.
Singh and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Wednesday inaugurated an urban renewal project for an Indian neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur, Brickfield, which was renamed Little India. Some 3,000 Malaysian Indians waited for three hours to see the inauguration ceremony but were kept at a distance by barricades. Indian officials admitted they weren’t certain if Singh even knew they were there.
The HRP is critical of Little India, calling it a "propaganda" and designed to "camouflage the real ground reality" of Malaysian Indians. Political disaffection among the community has been evident in Malaysia. Following the Hindu Rights Action Forum campaign, the government-allied Malaysian Indian Congress, was badly defeated in August 2008 polls.
A key HRP demand is that the present preferential treatment to Malays for university student slots be abolished. It requested Singh to give them seats in Indian higher education institutes.