MALAYSIA The nightmare of Indian IT professionals. by C. S.

Kuppuswamy
17. 03. 2003

http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers7/paper633.html The Incident The treatment meted out to 270 Indian IT professionals by the Malaysian police at Kuala Lumpur on Sunday the 9th March, 2003 has been widely covered by the Indian media. The Malaysian police is renowned for its high-handedness and excesses especially against the Malaysian citizens of Indian origin. Now they have displayed the same attitude towards the Indian professionals as well. For a change the Indian Government and the High Commission of India at Kuala Lumpur have reacted sharply but disappointingly the Indian business community has stalled the response because of its own interests. The Facts Under the garb for search of illegal immigrants, the Malaysian police carried out a raid on a high-rise apartment in Brickfields, an area predominantly occupied by the Malaysian citizens of Indian origin. They rounded up 270 including many IT professionals and allegedly defaced their passports, slapped and kicked several of them. They were lined up and paraded for all public to see their humiliation. Some reports indicate that they were hand cuffed and detained for at least eight hours. All of them had valid visas and some were working for companies connected with the Malaysian multi media super corridor project. “This has been a black day for all of us”said Veena Sikri, the High Commissioner for India in Kuala Lumpur. The police had initially denied to the Indian officials access to the detainees but relented later. The Reactions The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had called the Malaysian High Commissioner in Delhi and expressed its resentment over the issue and called or an immediate probe. The MEA rubbished all claims of Malaysia that the detentions were part of a drive against illegal immigrants as these were IT professionals (skilled workers) and the drive was focused on the segment of unskilled workers. After glossing over the issue for over 3 days the Kuala Lumpur city police chief ordered an investigation while maintaining that the initial investigations proved that there were no wrong doings. The Malaysian Police To cite an example of the excesses of the Malaysian police, the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (now under arrest) was roughed up by the police while in custody. When the former Deputy PM appeared in court with a black eye, the then police chief openly admitted of police involvement in the injury. The Malaysian Prejudice Dr. Harsh Verma writes in an article to the NRI World News Service – “ the Malay majority

police force interacts periodically with the poor Tamil/Indian youth with violence and bloodshed. How can prejudice not be formed?” The Malaysian media is also highly prejudiced against the Indians and even minor incidents involving them are blown out of proportions. Dr. P. Ramasamy of Kebangsan University, Malaysia writes that a series of incidents in the country have revealed the vulnerability of the Indian community. There is a growing tendency to view Indians as a problematic community afflicted with all kinds of political, social and economic ills. Racial ideology and practices of racism have made it impossible for the (poor) Indians to lead decent lives in the country. For more on the plight of the Malaysian Indians please refer to Paper No. 618 "Malaysian Indians: The third class race" by this author. The Response The following responses of the Indian Government in this regard are appropriate. * The High Commissioner of India indicated that India has “little choice” but to issue a travel advisory to its citizens planning to visit Malaysia. * Foreign Regional Registration offices (FRROs) including the one in Bangalore have been ordered to check the credentials of Malaysian nationals registered here. There are over 400 Malaysians registered in Bangalore to pursue their studies in medicine. * The government of India indicated that it will reexamine the extension of landing facility to Malaysian Airlines at Kolkata and the seat sharing arrangement with Air-India. The Civil Aviation Secretary, K.Roy Paul has been asked to review the obligations of both parties in the civil aviation bilateral treaty with Malaysia. * Malaysian Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohamded Nazri Abdul Aziz who was on a visit to India had talks with Ministers Arun Jetly and Kashiram Rana on 11 march 2003. The talks were confined to the harassment of the Indian IT professionals instead of the proposed agenda. * The Government of India expressed inability to host Malaysian Health Minister Chua Jui Meng towards the end of March 2003 on the grounds that the proposed dates were inconvenient. He was to meet his counterpart Sushama Swaraj and hold talks with her and other leaders. * The Government has given indications that it will reexamine some of the bilateral agreements which are loaded in Malaysia’s favour and other trade related concessions extended to Malaysia. India has to set its house in order There is one lesson for India too. It is no secret that many Indians do overstay illegally in some South East Asian countries and some make South-East Asia or Central Asia as a jumping point to migrate West. We have often seen that the immigration authorities are generally careless and even corrupt and make no effort to stop the illegals from leaving. We need therefore to set our house in order, as countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have experienced this problem.

Conclusion India has a large number of joint ventures in Malaysia which include the Bharat Heavy Electricals ltd, India Railway Construction Corporation, Indian oil, ONGC etc. The experience of some of these ventures, in the past, have also not been very pleasant. Malaysia’s arrogance because of its economic strength is often directed towards India because of its “soft state” attitude, while it is very careful in its trade with the Western nations despite the “America bashing” by its top leadership. The leadership of the Malaysian Indian Congress which is pampered by the Government of India, has very little political clout in the country to look after the interests of India. The Malaysians of Indian origin face the brunt of the racist policies in that country and the Malaysian leadership has perhaps displayed the same attitude towards India in its trade dealings as well. The probe ordered may be a mere perfunctory job if not an eye wash. This is the second incident in which IT professionals have been targeted abroad with the Polaris top brass being detained recently in Indonesia. The present incident must be an eye-opener for the Government of India to be more prudent in its trade dealings with Malaysia without bending over its back for the sake of pleasing the business community which is forcing the Government of India to relent on these matter