TAMIL schools, land ownership and identity card issues were the focus of reports in the Tamil press between 6 and 10 Sept 2008.
Four of the eight front-page reports in Malaysia Nanban on 6 Sept were about Tamil schools. The main report was on how the MIC became the beneficiary of a three-acre piece of land that was supposed to belong to Effingham Tamil School in Bandar Utama.
The daily reported that Member of Parliament (MP) for Subang R Sivarasa wanted the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to investigate the matter.
Selangor state executive councilor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar was also reported to have said that MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S Subramaniam’s statement about the matter was unacceptable.
Subramaniam had said party president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu was innocent, and that there was a mistake in the land title registration. Xavier asked why the MIC had not taken the initiative to correct the mistake.
Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban covered the same issue the next day. On 7 Sept, Malaysia Nanban quoted Xavier as saying the MIC’s involvement in such a land scandal was a betrayal of the Indian community.
On the same front page, Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran demanded that the ACA investigate the issue for misuse of power. Makkal Osai quoted Samy Vellu as saying only three acres of land were given to the school by the developer, and not six as earlier claimed.
Waiting for a Tamil school
On 6 Sept, Malaysia Nanban also highlighted on its front page the plight of parents and students in Triang, Pahang who are waiting for a promised Tamil school to be built.
The report quoted parents as saying their children had to take temporary refuge at the Triang Chinese and Sri Bunthar Malay primary schools while waiting.
The affected families were originally from the Triang Mantiri plantation estate, where the parents were contractual estate workers. After their contracts expired, the children were told to leave their schools, and have since been temporarily enrolled in the Malay and Chinese schools. The students only attend Tamil classes in the afternoons after school.
On 7 Sept, Makkal Osai interviewed several individuals about the issue of land for Tamil schools. Some said if the amount of land given for Chinese schools by the Perak government had been allocated for Tamil schools, it would have resolved half of the land issues faced by Tamil schools. (The Perak government recently allocated 960 acres of land for the development of Chinese schools.)
Responding to this issue, Malaysian Nanban on 8 Sept quoted Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran as saying the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak was willing to resolve the land issues faced by Tamil schools in the state.
He also said Perak state executive councilor A Sivanesan wanted to examine the problem, but the schools and parent-teacher associations had denied him access into their school premises.
Teachers and parents complain
Makkal Osai reported on 7 Sept that the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has been receiving numerous complaints about Indian teachers being made to mark Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) exam papers so close to Deepavali this year.
According to the report, teachers were being told to mark papers for three days before Deepavali on 27 Oct. NUTP secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said the union would call a meeting with the Malaysian Examination Board to resolve the issue.
On Sept 11, Makkal Osai also reported that the parents of students who sat for the UPSR Tamil language paper exam were furious over one part of the paper that centres on comprehension of an article.
The parents, who went to the daily’s office to highlight their disaffection, said the article was not a Tamil article but a translation of English literature. As a result, their children had a lot of difficulty understanding the article, their parents said.
Malaysia Nanban reported that there was also confusion over the dual-language UPSR Mathematic Paper 1 because the first question in English and Tamil had different meanings.
Detained for not showing IC
Makkal Osai on 8 Sept reported on the case of M Rajeshvari, who was detained in the Lenggeng immigration depot for 11 months for failing to show her identity card (IC). She also failed to remember her IC number and could not speak good Malay.
According to the report, Rajeshvari was six months pregnant when she was detained. She was released on 5 Sept with her son, who was born in the detention camp.
After she lodged a complaint with Suhakam over her detention, its commissioner Datuk N Sivasubramaniam said the Home Ministry must account for what happened.
Malaysia Nanban, on 11 Sept, reported that Suhakam was preparing a memorandum to the ministry about the case. The paper also reported that Rajeshvari has reunited with her family.
In its editorial on 9 Sept, Malaysia Nanban highlighted the importance of birth certificates and ICs for the Indian community, and advised parents to take heed of Rajeshvari’s case.