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Not without my baby

FOR the week of 20 to 26 April 2009, Tamil papers highlighted M Indira Gandhi’s continued struggle to get back her 11-month-old baby from her Muslim-convert husband.

The papers also reported on the shares offered to Indian Malaysians by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), and the anger of Indian Malaysians, particularly Tamil Malaysians against India’s support of the Sri Lankan war.

Where’s the baby?

The trials and tribulations of kindergarten teacher Indira Gandhi are not over. Despite her case receiving the cabinet‘s attention, and the Ipoh High Court‘s order to her husband to return her 11-month-old baby, she is nowhere near holding her baby in her arms.

Indira Gandhi
In desperation and in an effort to highlight what she claims is the police’s “don’t care” attitude towards the court’s directive, she has taken to staging a sit-in at the police station until she get her baby back. Her determined struggle continues to hog the headlines in all the Tamil papers.

I will not give up — Indira Gandhi fights for her child was the headline of Malaysia Nanban on 26 April. Tamil Nesan‘s headline on the same day was Until my child is returned to me, I will not leave the police station. The front page of Makkal Osai read, Until the child is returned, a sit-in protest at the police station, declares Indira Gandhi.

Malaysia Nanban and Tamil Nesan had the best coverage of the story with each paper highlighting different aspects of her struggle. “According to the court orders, the police should see to it that they get my child back to me,” she said. “Until I get my baby back, I will not budge from this place.”

She also complained of the police’s total apathy in handling her case. “I have been here the whole night. Not even one police personnel has come to ask me anything. I am so disheartened. Just the other day, my husband called me on my cell phone and said that he is going to take my baby to Singapore.”

Indira has a lot of support from various political parties such as the DAP and the MIC. DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang paid her a visit at the police station and expressed his dismay at the snail’s pace with which the police seemed to be working on her case. “It has been more than 24 hours and the police can’t even find the man,” he said.

M Kulasegaran, the DAP Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat, was also at the station to show support for Indira. He said he was told that the police had set up a special task force to trace the baby.

Tamil Nesan highlighted the anger of Indira’s lawyer A Sivanesan, who is also DAP Sungkai state assemblyperson, over her estranged husband’s threat to abscond with the baby to Singapore. “How can someone who is under police bail be allowed to travel overseas? He should be arrested immediately and be made to respect the court’s decision,” he said.

The paper also reported that lots of supporters had gathered outside the police station.

PNB shares

Tamil papers have declared approval for the government’s move to issue 3.3 billion new units of Amanah Saham Malaysia (ASM) and two billion new units of Amanah Saham Wawasan (ASW 2020). A total of 15% of ASM shares have been allocated for Indian Malaysians. The news was important enough to merit editorials from two papers.

Tamil Nesan‘s editorial on 23 April, titled People should take the opportunity to buy the PNB shares, urged Indian Malaysians to hurry and buy the shares. “To ensure that the Indian [Malaysians] are not left behind in terms of economic development, it is imperative that we take part in such investment schemes,” it said. “Therefore, we should show a lot of enthusiasm in buying up these shares allocated to us.”

At the same time, it also urged the banks to fully cooperate in ensuring these shares reached Indian Malaysians. It noted that there have been complaints that some banks said the shares were sold out within 24 hours. “About 49.5 millions shares have been allocated to Indian [Malaysians]. We find it hard to believe these shares would have been snapped up so soon.”

Malaysia Nanban‘s editorial on 22 April was titled Indian [Malaysians] please hurry and buy the shares!. “We urge Indian [Malaysians] to remember that 15% of ASM shares have been allocated for us and 49% of ASW 2020 shares have been allocated for non-bumiputera. In the past, there has never been a time when a percentage of shares was especially allocated for Indian [Malaysians].

“We should not be lulled into complacency by the fact that we have the 15% allocated to us and therefore we can take all the time in the world to buy them. We would like to remind Indian [Malaysians] not to delay in buying these shares,” it said.

Tamil Malaysians protest

The Sri Lankan army is finally winning the war against the Tamil Tigers. The imminent end for V Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers, seems to be near.

Tamil Tigers flag (Pic by Thyes, source:
Wikimedia commons)
The push by the Sri Lankan army has caused thousands of Tamil casualties. Tamils all over the world from Norway to London to Paris and the US have demanded an end to the bombings so that civilians can be saved.

Indian Malaysians, especially the Tamil community, have followed this war closely. The revelation that India has been supplying the Sri Lankan army with weapons and information on Tamil Tigers has riled the community.

They organised a massive demonstration in front of the Indian embassy in Jalan Duta to vent their anger. The demonstration made front-page headlines in all the Tamil papers. Besides front-page coverage, the papers also filled their back pages with pictures of the event.

Malaysia Nanban had the best coverage in terms of news and pictures. Its 22 April headline was Voice of protest: Don’t kill Sri Lankan Tamils. The story carried a striking picture of a man dressed only in his sarong. He looked as though he was splashed with blood and was screaming in fury.

“Those of Indian origin, especially Tamil Malaysians, have every right to criticise the actions of the Indian government,” said Pasupathy Chitambaram, a member of the Tamil Foundation Malaysia. He revealed that a memorandum had been presented to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh via the Malaysian embassy.

The paper noted with admiration that the demonstration was organised within just three days, and that despite it being a work day, a large number of people turned up from all over the country to take part in the demonstration. The paper also saluted the police for keeping the crowd under control.

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