KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 – A forum organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) on the issue of Indian migration to the Malay peninsula has raised the ire of a political party.
The forum entitled Polemik kehadiran masyarakat India di Semenanjung Tanah Melayu: Migrasi atau Imigran? (The polemic of Indians arriving in the Malay peninsula: Migration or Immigrants?), is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, and is part of a series of intellectual dialogues by UKM’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation (Atma).
MIRA: Why panel comprising only one race?
In a statement, the Minority Rights Action Party (MIRA) criticised UKM for trying to “question” the presence of the Indian community in this country.
“It is very shameful for such a programme to be conducted in a new Malaysia, where such racist questions should not be raised.
“We demand UKM inform the purpose of organising such a programme, and with such a controversial title at that. What is the polemic that occurred with the arrival of the Indians?
“Also, why does the panellists only comprise one race, with no other race represented?” Mira deputy president S Gobi Krishnan asked.
The UKM forum will feature four panellists, namely policy research and international studies professor Ahmad Murad Merican and archaeology expert Nasha Rodziadi Khaw from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM); Atma professor Zuliskandar Ramli; and Indian civilisation expert Azharudin Mohamed Dali from Universiti Malaya’s history, arts, and social sciences faculty.
MIRA was formerly known as New Generation Party, and was established in 2013. It lent its support to Pakatan Harapan since last year in the hope of joining the coalition. PH recognise MIRA as a strategic partner.
Gobi urged Education Minister Maszlee Malik and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy, who is in charge of national unity, to look into the matter.
According to Gobi, MIRA will also send its representatives to attend the forum and will not hesitate to correct any wrong facts that might be presented.
Kulasegaran’s remarks on Hindus being here first
Though it was not mentioned, the forum organised by UKM is believed to counter the remarks brought up by Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran last July at a Hindu event in Nilai.
It was previously reported on July 27, that Kulasegaran was quoted as saying that various Hindu temples were discovered in Lembah Bujang, Kedah, which was proof that Hinduism had long existed in the country.
The report was based on a video recording uploaded on Youtube, which showed Kulasegaran delivering a speech in Tamil.
Kula denies saying Malays are immigrants too
The remarks were criticised by Malay groups with allegations that he had said or suggested that the Malays were immigrants in this land, a claim which he vehemently denied.
“Last week, I attended a Hindu event in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, where I said we shouldn’t label a certain race as immigrants because all of us live together in Malaysia.
“During the event, which was conducted in Tamil, I never once talked about the Malays. Allegations that I called the Malays immigrants are mere slanders and lies.
“What I said in Tamil during the event was that the Indians have been in Tanah Melayu since 2,500 years ago. Hinduism was introduced by the Indians in Tanah Melayu.
“The discoveries made at the Lembah Bujang archeological site, especially in Sungai Batu in Kedah, confirm this,” he said in a statement uploaded to his Facebook page.
He argued that based on such archeological discoveries, it was therefore unfair for the Indians to be labelled as immigrants.
He said this was because Hinduism was one of the earliest religions practised by the people of Tanah Melayu and the Nusantara, or Malay archipelago.
He said Buddhism also flourished in the region until the advent of Islam in the 15th century.
However, after much pressure, Kulasegaran apologised for his remarks at the event, and said he had been quoted out of context, and denied claiming that the Indians were the original inhabitants of the Malay peninsula.