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Indian Diaspora in Malaysia

Malaysian Indians account 7.3% of the total population of Malaysia

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Sri Mahamariamman Temple Malaysia , Wikimedia Commons
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By Akanksha Sharma

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia, cleaved into two lands by the South China Sea. One part is located on a peninsula of Asian mainland which flaunts bustling cities, colonial architecture, tea- plantations and islands. Another part is located on the northern third island of Borneo which comprises of wild jungles orangutans, granite peaks and remote tribes.

India Malaysia locator. Wikimedia Commons
India Malaysia locator. Wikimedia Commons

Indian migration towards Malaysia

  • First Wave: Indians firstly arrived at Malaysia during the pre-colonial period, when Rajaraja Chola launched an attack via naval expedition conquering several Malay kingdoms.
  • Second Wave: In the second half 19th century, mainly Tamil and Telugu Indians were brought to Malaysia to work as laborers on plantation, ports, railway lines and ports.
  • Third Wave: After the 1990s, many Indians migrated to work as professionals mainly in IT sector and unskilled labor. There are also foreign spouses from the Indian subcontinent who married local Indians.

Today, Indian community consists of mostly Tamils (80%), followed by Keralites, Andhrites, Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis and Gujaratis. Malaysian Indians account 7.3% of the total population of Malaysia. A major portion of Indian community is engaged in rubber and palm plantation and a smaller section works in services like railways, police and food business.

Malaysian India Congress is the largest and oldest Indian political party in Malaysia. According to www.indiandiaspora.nic.in, at present, it has got 14 seats in Malaysian parliament which include one Cabinet Post, two Deputy Minister’s post and two Parliamentary secretary’s post.

Related Article: Ramli Ibrahim: A Malaysian steeped in Indian classical dances

Indian community has contributed enormously towards Malaysian cuisine

  • Indian Muslim restaurants and stalls are referred to as ‘Mamak’. The word ‘Mamak’ is a Tamil term for maternal uncle or ‘Maa-ma’. These restaurants are popular for dishes like Roti Canai (flattened bread) , Nasi kendar (steamed rice) and Posembur (Malaysian Salad).

    Roti Canai , Wikimedia Commons
  • Indian cuisine in Malaysia is mostly based on South Indian cuisine. Dishes like Idli, Vada and Dosa are very common for breakfast.
  • Snacks like Murrukku and Banana chips are made to mark on Deepavali.
  • Sweets like pasayum, halva and ghee balls are also very popular.

 Indian Malaysian Festivals

  • Thaipusam– the biggest Hindu festival is celebrated every year. It falls in the Tamil month of Thai ( January-February). It is devoted to Lord ‘Murugan’ and ‘Kartikeya’, the son of Shiva and Paravati. The celebration takes place on a huge scale at the Batu Caves. Devotees carry Kavadi , a wooden arc , as an act of atonement on this festival.
Devotes celebrating Thaipusam at Batu Caves, Malaysia. Wikimedia Commons
  • The popular Hindu festival ‘Festival of Lights’ – Deepavali is also celebrated by Hindu communities.
  • Pongal the Harvest festival is celebrated among Tamils and Onam is most popular among  the Malayalee community.
  • Other festivals like Makar Sankranti and Lohri are also celebrated.
  • Indian Muslims celebrate Ramadan.

Akanksha is a student of journalism in New Delhi. Twitter @Akanksha4117

 

 

 

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Muslims in Malaysia Rally In Kuala Lumpur To Keep Status

Mahathir’s new government won a stunning victory in a May 9 general election amid anger over a massive corruption scandal.

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Malaysia, Malay
Protesters rally near a mosque to celebrate the government's decision not to ratify a U.N. anti-discrimination convention, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 8, 2018. Thousands of Malaysian Muslims are rallying against any attempt to strip ethnic Malay majority of their privileges. VOA

Tens of thousands of Malaysian Muslims rallied Saturday in Kuala Lumpur against any attempt to strip the ethnic Malay majority of its privileges, in the first massive street gathering since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s alliance won a historic vote in May.

The rally, backed by the country’s two largest opposition Malay parties, was initially aimed at protesting a government plan to ratify a U.N. treaty against racial discrimination. Critics allege that ratifying the treaty would end Malay privileges under a decades-old affirmative action policy. The plan to ratify was eventually abandoned, but organizers decided to proceed with what they called a “thanksgiving” rally.

Rare racial clashes

Racial clashes have been rare in multiracial Malaysia since deadly riots in 1969. A year later, Malaysia instituted a preferential program that gives Malays privileges in jobs, education, contracts and housing to help narrow a wealth gap with the minority Chinese. Ethnic Malays account for nearly two-thirds of the country’s 32 million people, with large Chinese and Indian minorities.

Malaysia, Malay
A protester covers his face with headbands reading “No to ICERD” during a rally to celebrate the government’s decision not to ratify a U.N. anti-discrimination convention called ICERD at Independent Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 8, 2018. ICERD stands for International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. VOA

Saturday’s rally came less than two weeks after more than 80 people were arrested in a riot at an Indian temple in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur. The government was quick to stress that the violence was the result of a land dispute and was not a racial riot. Still, the government warned Saturday’s rally-goers not to make any provocative statements that could fan racial tensions.

Mahathir said the government allowed the rally as part of democracy, but warned against any chaos. The rally was held under tight police security, but ended peacefully after rain started to fall.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been charged with multiple counts of corruption, was among opposition lawmakers at the rally.

In the streets, 55,000

Police said there were at least 55,000 people on the streets. Many wore white T-shirts and headbands with the words “Reject ICERD,” referring to the U.N. treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The protesters gathered at three locations before marching to a nearby historic square, chanting “Long live the Malays” and “Crush ICERD.”

malay
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right gestures to Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, to move in closer for the group hand shake as Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, left, watches during the opening ceremony of the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits at National Convention Center in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. VOA

“Yes, we did not ratify ICERD, but we are still here to say that we are still against it,” said shopkeeper Rosli Ikhsan. “Even if the government has said they won’t endorse it, we are still protesting with all our might from all of Malaysia.”

Mahathir’s new government won a stunning victory in a May 9 general election amid anger over a massive corruption scandal involving Najib and his government, but many Malays still support Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organization, and the Malaysian Islamic Party, which controls two of the country’s 13 states.

Some analysts say Najib and his party were using the rally to shift attention away from corruption charges against Najib, his wife, his party’s president and former government officials.

Also Read: Syrian Stranded at Malaysia Airport in a Political Limbo

“For me, ICERD is bad,” university student Nurul Qamariah said at the rally. “It’s bad because it will erode the position of Malays. This is a country for Malays. We want Malays to be superiors, but why do these people want to make Malays the same level as Chinese and Indians?” (VOA)