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Now, racism charge hits Games OC

india Updated: Aug 11, 2010 02:04 IST
Siddhanth Aney

Already stumbling through a minefield of allegations and controversies, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) has been hit with another, very serious, allegation — racism.

Malaysian experts hired by the OC in various roles, from press operations to venue and sports management, have alleged that they are being treated as second class citizens compared to those hired from Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and even Singapore.

Hindustan Times has gained access to an email sent by Tony Mariadass, who was working as director, press operations, OC, to the chief of the Olympic Council of Malaysia last month. He wrote: “I felt ashamed being here as a Malaysian. His (another foreign hire) apartment is about five or six times the size of our flat. Do we have to endure this discrimination? The ‘whites’ have bigger apartments, some with four rooms! Working conditions have been very poor with no respect for us Malaysians.”

Mariadass resigned and returned to Malaysia. In a separate official resignation letter, he said his Indian boss had told him to “get out of his cabin”. The letter continued: “He (the boss) further abused me to go back to Malaysia and said I am a cranky old man who does not do any work (sic). I will not stand this kind of abuse, especially when I am hired here for my experience.”

The letter is marked to a number of senior OC officials.

HT has learned that two other director-level foreign officials (both white) with similar responsibilities have been given houses in the upmarket south Delhi localities of Defence Colony and Vasant Vihar.

Lalit Bhanot, the OC’s secretary general, refuted the charge of racism. “Now that there are stories circulating in the media, everyone wants to put in their version. There’s been no racism whatsoever.”

The racism charge has opened another can of worms. HT visited the block of five flats originally allocated to five Malysians, including Mariadass, located at 53/8 and 53/9, just off Main Market, Old Rajender Nagar. Each flat has two small bedrooms, a kitchenette, a tiny, dilapidated bathroom and a small sitting area. The flats have been rented from the Salwan Education Trust by the OC.

The lease agreement states that the monthly rent is Rs 55,000 each. Therefore for the six flats the OC has rented from Nov 2009-2010, the rent comes to Rs 39,60,000. Brokers in the area said rent for similar flats was never higher than Rs 15,000.

At market rates, for this one-year period, the OC has overpaid by Rs 28,80,000 for this lot of flats. Sources said that there are 104 foreign hires in the OC. They said that if the lease agreements for all 98 other apartments, located in colonies like Defence Colony, Vasant Vihar and RK Puram are examined, the amount of money that constitutes over-spending would run into crores.

Bhanot justified the high rental: "That's because it's a furnished flat. That's why it's so much."