From the Ground in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia, the South East Asian country located on the Malay peninsula North of Singapore and South of Thailand, has been pointed to as an example of a successful new democratic country that has benefited immensely from its its entrance into the global economy. It’s also seen as a country in which three main ethnic and religious groups, the Islamic Malays, the Indians, and the Chinese have lived in colorful harmony.

The tension that has existed under the dominant currents in the government controlled media has been around since the very inception of the country, after its bloodless independence from the British in 1957.

hindraf rally kl november 26

That tension has broiled over recently in a more conspicuous way than it has in the recent past. Demonstrations in the streets of the capital city Kuala Lumpur have met with police and military responses that have been described overly agressive. Here is a link to a local Malaysian who has been following and writing about the “chaos” that has intermittenly sparked in the tropical country. Dead Alien X

The rallies were apparently organized by Hindras, the Hindu Rights Action Force. Feelings of marginalization have prompted the almost exclusively ethnic Indian gathering.

There are different accounts of the recent rallies, of course. One journalist in Kuala Lumpur, an Indian and Hindu, said that the blame for the escalation between the crowds and police should not be placed totally on the police. “I want to fight for justice also. But how stupid can you be, they were throwing stones at the police. The protesters that got hurt were the ones that were resisting arrest.”

The reporter, who works at one of the country’s largest papers, said that the environment in the newsroom surrounding the event was tense. Journalists in Malaysia do not enjoy the freedom to report without a degree of censorship, both from without and within.

More later

Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)

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