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Jan 2, 2008

Malaysia's Indian protest movement may die soon

Wednesday, January 02, 2008 17:17 [IST]

London: Minority ethnic Indians are fighting a "losing battle" for equal rights in Malaysia, and their fledgling protest movement against the Muslim-dominated government is likely to die soon, a protest leader told The Associated Press.

Ultimately, only the government - not the people - can bring about real change by giving concessions to ethnic Indians, said P Waytha Moorthy, the chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force group that is leading the Indian movement.

"We are fighting a losing battle, we know we try our level best but if we don't succeed, we have to call it a day, isn't it?" Moorthy said in the interview this week in the London suburb of Hounslow, where he is living with friends in self-imposed exile.

"We have to close the chapter. There may be a new chapter, but we may not be part of the next chapter," a tired-looking Moorthy said during the chat. "I know, eventually we will also fail".

Ethnic Indians form about eight per cent of Malaysia's 27 million people, and complain that the government denies them opportunities in jobs, education and business. They say that years of systematic repression have kept them at the bottom of the society.

The government denies this and says all Malaysians have benefited from the spectacular progress of the export-driven economy since independence in 1957. "We want the minority Indians to be given their basic rights. If they can give us two or three (real concessions), we are willing to keep our mouth shut. I don't look at myself as a sacrificer," Moorthy said. "That's what I don't understand why isn't the government conceding? We are not asking for super rights, we are asking for basic rights".


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