National and local community issues were the focus of reports in the Tamil press between 30 Aug and 5 Sept 2008.
On 30 Aug, both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban reported on Budget 2009 on the front page. Both used the same title Makkal Budget, meaning “Peoples’ Budget”. The Makkal Osai editorial said the Budget was timely in reflecting the current needs of Malaysians.
On the same day, both newspapers continued to report on the ongoing tussle between two Hindraf leaders: P Waytha Moorthy, who is currently in London, and Raidu Rao.
Raidu Rao, who is Shah Alam local councilor and brother of Internal Security Act detainee V Ganapathy Rao, called on Hindraf supporters to stop labelling him a traitor or ettapan. He said he had the right to question the Hindraf leadership because he was also responsible to the community, and was merely pointing out the “misleading facts” that were presented by Waytha Moorty.
At the same time, Makkal Osai reported that M Suthararajoo, the Desa Mentari coordinator of Hindraf, said Raidu Rao was not a Hindraf leader and advised him to stop splitting the organisation.
On 31 Aug, Malaysian Nanban reported that about 79 people in Jelapang Baru, Perak have been fighting for their land titles for the past 16 years.
The report said these individuals had already paid RM11,000 per lot for their land titles, but the newly formed Land Action Committee has requested an additional RM3,800 from them. The people are now seeking the intervention of the Perak menteri besar to resolve the issue.
On another land-related issue, M Muniandy, an estate worker from Kuala Perak Estate in Bagan Datuk, complained that the workers there have yet to receive land titles for their houses although they have already paid the full loan amount.
The estate is owned by the National Land Finance Cooperative Society Ltd, which introduced the house ownership scheme for estate workers. The workers, who agreed to the plan, paid RM22,000 for their houses but have yet to sign any agreement.
On 2 Sept, both Malaysia Nanban and Makkal Osai reported on the proposal to set up a special committee to look after the welfare of plantation workers.
Makkal Osai reported on human resources minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam, who said the committee would comprise officers from the ministry, police, welfare department and national registration department.
According to him, this committee would help resolve the long standing issues of birth certificate and identity card applications affecting the Indian community.
Subramaniam also said the committee would help prevent the exploitation of plantation workers by contractors. This move was welcomed by UM Gunasan, Perak secretary of the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW).
On 3 Sept, Malaysia Nanban reported Gunasan as saying that NUPW’s secretary-general, Datuk G Sankaran, had many times demanded for this special committee to be set up.
Malaysia Nanban reported on 5 Sept that Selangor state executive councilor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar questioned why the MIC was allocated three acres of land that belonged to the Eppingham Tamil School in Petaling Jaya.
On 31 Aug, Makkal Osai reported a dispute over Wisma IPF. The daily’s front page report was titled Wisma IPF Does Not Belong to the Indian Progressive Front.
The report said party supporters had contributed huge sums of money to the IPF leadership to construct the party’s own building, but the building was registered under the name of Sagu Prestasi Sdn Bhd.
The report added that party leaders have failed to explain why the building is not registered under the party’s name, as was promised to party members and supporters.
Makkal Osai’s editorial on 2 Sept discussed the issue of small-loan applications by those below the poverty line. The editorial questioned whether Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) was approving loan applications without discrimination.
The editorial said the president of the Malaysian Indian Business Association had recommended 200 applications from the Indian community to AIM, but none have been approved. It said the association’s request for clarification has not received any response.
On 5 Sept, both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban reported on Penang Hindu Sangam’s protest of the English movie The Love Guru. Both papers quoted deputy chairperson P Murugiah as saying the movie insulted Hinduism, and should be banned.