Avoid Deepavali ‘open house’ as mark of protest

The Indian community has been urged to avoid Deepavali ‘open house’ held by political parties as a mark of protest against the continued detention of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders.

In making the call, Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) also appealed to the community to celebrate the Oct 27 festival on a moderate scale and not hold ‘open house’.
“This is to express the community’s grieving concern for the welfare of the five who are being held under the Internal Security Act,” Miba president P Sivakumar told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

“We just want to tell the government that we are not happy,” he added.

Conceding that the move could affect Indian businesses, Sivakumar reasoned that without sacrifice, there would be no gain.

“How else are we to register our protest?” he asked. “We cannot go down to the streets to show our dissatisfaction.”

By keeping celebrations at a minimal, Sivakumar said this meant that the community should focus more on the spiritual instead of the material aspects.

Stressing that Miba’s call was not politically motivated, he said the community should avoid the ‘open house’ held by both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat parties.

Sivakumar also explained that one of the core factors behind the discontentment of the Indian community was the lack of business opportunities.

“This is why Miba is getting involved. Whatever gains we are achieving right now is because of Hindraf,” he pointed out, adding that the business group was prepared to face any backlash that might arise from making such a call.

‘Awareness campaign’

Terming it as an ‘awareness campaign’, Miba also expressed hope that the move would prove to the government that Hindraf and the Indian community were not separate entities.

“The government feels that Hindraf is separate from the community,” said committee member M Raken. “This awareness campaign would show that the movement and the community are the same.”

Meanwhile, Sivakumar said the community viewed the Nov 25, 2007 mammoth street protest organised by Hindraf as an ‘epoch-making’ event which altered their destiny for the better.

“They certainly admire the valiant way in which the Hindraf leaders sought to bring to the attention of the government the woeful plight of the Indians.

“What these champions of the community did is considered a great sacrifice on their part in the larger interest of their fellow men and not for any selfish gain,” he added.

The five - P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, T Vasantha Kumar, V Ganabatirau and R Kenghadaran - were arrested shortly after the protest. The Hindraf leaders were deemed as a threat to national security.

“Although the aim and purpose of the rally was to register a protest against the government for the unfair treatment and marginalisation of Indian Malaysians in various economic and religious sectors, the government however perceived their actions as one of subversion and decided to put them under detention without trial,” said Sivakumar.

In view of this, the Miba president reiterated that the community should not forget their contribution.

“As the five are still incarcerated, Miba feels duty-bound that fellow Indians like us should remember them on Deepavali day and celebrate the festival on a low-key,” he said.

source: YB Gopala

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