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Protests and hunger strikes

MOST of the Tamil dailies on 8 Aug 2008 highlighted that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was released on personal bond for the sodomy allegations against him.

On the same day, Malaysia Nanban reported on the SMK Telok Panglima Garang secondary schoolteacher who is at the centre of a controversy for having humiliated Tamil students with racist remarks. The paper earlier reported that about 1,000 people had protested against the teacher in front of the school.

Makkal Osai also reported that Dr SN Pathmanaban, a lawyer, volunteered to bring the matter to court to seek compensation for the students. The papers said some parents were not satisfied with the teacher’s transfer out of the school and wanted heavier punishment meted out, such as termination.

The Tamil press also reported that the Malaysian Telugu Organisation wanted the Telugu language to be a subject in Tamil Schools. However, Makkal Osai quoted on 9 Aug the Malaysian Dravidian Congress president RS Muthaiya as calling for the request to be rejected.

There were reports of other objections from Tamils who argued that including Telugu in Tamil schools would destroy these schools’ identities. They said Tamils were not against Telugu speakers and the development of the language, but there were other ways for the language to develop.

On 11 Aug, Malaysia Nanban reported that Hindraf supporters started a hunger strike to demand for the release of the five Hindraf leaders who have been detained under the Internal Security Act since 13 Dec 2007.

The group announced they would go on hunger strike once a month, beginning 10 Aug.

Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban on 15 Aug raised the question of whether Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar would be released by the High Court during a habeas corpus hearing on 17 Sept 2008.

Another issue that was highlighted by Makkal Osai was the incidence of Indian families without identity cards. One woman, for example, did not have an identity card, and hence her four children were not granted theirs.

Malaysia Nanban reported on 12 Aug that Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam announced that Indian farmers would be given financial credit under the Malaysian Green Book plan.

According to the minister, those who had land around their houses would also be given vegetable seeds to grow.

The newspaper’s editorial on that day focused on the government’s move to curb the intermediary’s role in Socso applications. Many Indians have complained that these intermediaries take 30% of claimants’ compensation as payment for services rendered in making Socso claims.

The editorial noted that the government would staff Socso offices with Malay, Chinese and Tamil speakers to help ease the application process for claimants.

Makkal Osai reported on 12 Aug that only one student enrolled in a Chinese primary school, 30km away from Taiping, and the student was an Indian boy. V Sivachanthiran, who speaks fluent Mandarin, had been advised to enroll in a Chinese school, and was surprised to see no students in his class.

On 14 Aug, Makkal Osai reported on a few land-related issues, including that the Perak state government had promised to give land to build temples in Ipoh and Kampar.

On 15 Aug, both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban reported on the Jinjang Selatan community’s opposition to Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s development plans that will require them to be evicted from their homes.

The community, which has resided in the area for the past 40 years, is also seeking land ownership from the City Hall.

Makkal Osai also reported that the wife of the former Indian Progressive Front president obtained a temporary injunction against the newspaper, claiming that Makkal Osai had carried a news report that marred her good name. She is also seeking compensation over the report. End of Article


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