Thursday, December 29, 2011

HRF report to Washington: Institutional Racism in Malaysia

Human Rights


CPI introduction

Below is the executive summary made by P. Waytha Moorthy, the founder of Hindraf and leader of the Human Rights Foundation Malaysia. Also uploaded is the paper presented before the US House Committee on foreign affairs and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

According to its brief, "Human Rights Foundation Malaysia is an organisation dedicated to the protection and promotion of Human Rights for the marginalised in Malaysia. We document and report all forms of violations, give voice to the oppressed and hold the Government accountable for its Human Rights violations. We lobby International support for the marginalised community and submit Independent reports and evidence to International bodies.”

Institutional Racism and Religious freedom in Malaysia

Executive summary
  • Institutional racism is the process by which people from ethnic minorities are systematically discriminated against by a range of public and private bodies. If the result or outcome of established laws, customs or practices is racially discriminatory, then institutional racism can be said to have occurred.

Dr.Benjamin Bowling

(Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice and Director of Criminological studies in the School of Law, King's College London.)

  • Malaysia has all the hallmark of a racist and religious extreme state on the following foundation;

a) The Federal Constitution entrenched with a racist provision vide Article 153 ( Malaysian brand of apartheid)

b) The State sanctions racist and religious extreme laws and policies

c) State control of Government Administration by 1 race/religious group

d) State channel of most funds for economic/education/development programs and licenses, permits ect to 1 race

e) State control of Religious freedom to disadvantage of non-Muslims, imposition of Muslim religious laws and compelling jurisdiction of Syaria Courts on non-Muslims.

f) State sponsored violence/threat of violence both directly and outsource to other groups on objections by citizens

g) State sanction of draconian, punitive laws and the blank cheque given to Police to make arbitrary arrests on dissent.

h) State declaration that the Malays are the masters (Malay Supremacy) and sons of soil.

  • Ethnic groups in Malaysia : Malay 53.3%, Chinese 26.0%, indigenous 11.8%, Indian 7.7%, others 1.2%.

  • Religions: Islam (60.4%), Buddhism (19.2%), Christianity (9.1%), Hinduism (6.3%), other/none (5.0%). - US Department of State 2011

  • Malaysia is a country based on a subtle, pervasive and increasingly aggressive form of racism. The conflict that lies just below this artificial calm state, is so well concealed, that to someone with just a cursory knowledge Malaysia would find it hard to believe and this is part of the problem.

  • Malay supremacy or Malay dominance is the claim that the Malay Muslims are the tuan (masters) of Malaysia. The Chinese and Indians, who form a significant minority in Malaysia, are considered beholden to the Malays for granting them citizenship in return for special privileges as set out in Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution.

  • Article 153 is a deep-rooted racist provision in the Constitution which sanctions implementation of all racist policies in Malaysia to the disadvantage of the minority non-Malay/Muslim population. Questioning any matter, rights, status, privilege ect of Article 153 is considered a challenge to the Malay Supremacy, insulting the Royal Institution and Islam. It is also deemed a threat to National Security, an offence under the Internal Security Act which gives powers of arrest for unlimited period without trial and under the Sedition Act which provides for imprisonment between 3-5 years.

  • Since the Democratic uprising of Hindraf in 2007 and the subsequent loss of its 2/3 Parliamentary mandate in the March 2008 elections, Government has outsourced its overt racist agenda to NGO’s in particular PERKASA. This is an NGO led by a Pro Government Parliamentarian who promotes the Malay Muslim supremacy agenda and has the explicit support of top Government leadership including the former Prime Ministers, ex- Army officials and ex- Inspector General of Police.

  • PERKASA works intimately with a more militant group known as Pekida and another underworld Para- military group known as 3 LINE. Together they perpetuate racial hatred and cause fear among the non-Malays.

  • Government budgetary allocations.

  1. All Government projects are primarily given to Malay Muslim Bumiputra individuals and organizations.

  2. All Government contractors have to be licensed by the Finance Ministry before being given any Government projects.

  3. Malays have been promoted in the Civil service to assure that the highest policy-making positions will be filled by Malays regardless of objective performance standards.

  • As of June 2005, more than 85% of the Civil Servants were Malay Muslims. This was an increase of close to 25% from 1971.

  • The FELDA Scheme – Federal Land development Authority

  • There is a systematic and wholesale exclusion of Non-Malays from this program. Indian plantation workers who were being actively displaced at the time of the growth of this FELDA scheme in the 1970s and 1980s were not considered part of the target group, because they were not categorized as being from the rural community. This was convenient way to exclude. An estimated 800,000 Indian plantation workers have been displaced from plantations without any alternative programs/compensation.

  • FELDA, FELCRA, PERDA, KEDA, KETENGAH, KESEDAR, KEJORA and a host of other development agencies use procedural techniques of one form or another such as this to entirely exclude the deserving non-Malays.

  • FELDA show a total turnover of RM 11.8 Billion. The profits before tax alone are RM804 million.

  • A RM 120 million residential school for FELDA children - a Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) in Trolak, Perak. Compare this with the recent promise of an allocation of RM100 million by the Prime Minister for 523 Tamil schools in the country, for which there is no evidence of disbursement anyway. There are 42 MRSM schools like the one above in the country.

  • In 1980, the World Bank raised concerns over the ethnic bias in FELDA settler selection by pointing out that if the government was serious “about increasing the non-Malay share in agriculture, some increase in the non-Malay share of settlers was warranted

  • The Tekun Nasional scheme is a scheme to provide micro credit and to develop majority Malay Muslim entrepreneurs.

  • For the year 2008 alone TEKUN Nasional has provided RM 182 million as loans to 19,000 entrepreneurs.

  • That is close to RM1 Billion -not to mention almost all those loans went to Malay Muslim entrepreneurs. Participation in the Tekun program of Indians is miniscule - a total of 93 Indian entrepreneurs received loans amounting to RM761,000 on July 24, 2009 in a ceremony.8 That is less than 0.1% of that disbursed to the Malay Muslim entrepreneurs.

  • The collusion of the various arms of the Government to keep dissent in check.

Some of the key ones are :

1. Government Linked Companies

2. Government Investment Companies

3. Economic Planning Unit

4. The Federal Cabinet of Ministers

5. The various Ministries

6. The Royal Malaysian Police

7. The Attorney general’s Office

8. The Judiciary

9. The Government Administrative Services

10. The Government owned Banks

11. The Government controlled media

  • The Government has used suppressive laws like the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Seditions Act during this period to implement these terribly racially lopsided development plans while allowing the racist system to grow

  • Given the need to maintain a racist regime, the Police have become a primary instrument of control for the majority Malay Muslim party in Government –UMNO. Police violence, abuse of power and human rights abuses occur very regularly. Cases of death in custody, partial handling of criminal disturbances, violent dispersal of peaceful protestors and other form of human rights violation continue. This has created a climate of impunity and normalization of violence, abuse of power and violation of human rights in Malaysia.

  • More than 77% of the Government administration members are of Malay Muslim ethnicity. About 20% the Indian members and about 60% of the Chinese members of the Government administration are teachers in the Government Vernacular schools. If they are excluded from the numbers employed by the Government administration, the picture that emerges is about an overall participation of 85% Malays in the administration.

  • The Malay Muslim employees of the administration go through special programs of training called National Civics Bureau where they are all educated on how to keep “the wealth of the family within the family” in short how to operationalize the racist policies of the Government. This is a much criticized activity, but the Government continues with impunity as it is a key approach in recreating that racist bureaucracy.

  • The Mainstream media blocks out, demonizes and distorts information of any organization that speaks out against this racist system in a coordinated fashion. The Government uses the Printing Presses and Publications Act and limiting ownership to known allies to control the Media to do this.

  • There are an estimated 150,000 – 200,000 Indian children who are stateless due to the States’ reluctance to recognize them as Malaysians. This is operationalized by the racist state bureaucracy. As result they are not admitted in Schools, enjoy health care and other benefits a child enjoys.

  • The racial bias in the educational system is the area where racism is most blatant – all the way from pre-school and primary education up to Tertiary levels.

  • There are 42 fully residential elite Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) (Mara junior Science College) (NST 5/4/08) with 12,440 places also in the fully residential schools (BH 21/11/09 at page 7). These schools have been almost exclusively for Malay Muslim students

  • Non-Malays are also almost 100% excluded in other elite schools like the Royal Military College, Aminuddin Baki Institution, Matriculation courses and the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

  • There are two streams for entry into the Public Universities. One is through the Matriculation 12 month program specifically tailored for the Malay Muslim students and the other is through the 18 month and much more stringent STPM program

  • Admissions into public Universities is more than 80% reserved for the Malays Muslims. One university with a student population of 170,000 in 2011(UiTM) is for Malay Muslims only. The other 19 public Universities with about 170,000 enrolments in all have a 60% Malay Muslim students making it 80% for Malay Muslims in all Public Universities. This does not even talk about the composition in the various courses offered.

  • There are 62,000 diploma places and 60,000 degree places for 2010 at 27 Polytechnics in Malaysia. These are exclusively for the Malay Muslim students.

There are 163,779 students studying at the 19 other Public Universities nationwide at an annual expenditure cost of RM 2.6 Billion15. Our estimate is a mere 5 % of this expenditure will accrue to non-Malay students.

  • RM 2.8 Billion is allocated for the 2010 National Budget for student’s assistance scholarships. Most of the funds go for scholarships to Malay Muslim Students.

  • 1,266,671 students (estimated 90% Malay Muslims) have benefited from the government PTPTN (Government Higher Education Loan Fund) study loans till 2009. 147,441 such loans were approved at RM 17.0 Billion (UM 25/3/08 at page 31).

  • The constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the constitution and the government placed restrictions on this right. The constitution defines all ethnic Malays as Muslims at birth and stipulates that Islam is the "religion of the Federation."

  • Civil courts continued to concede jurisdiction to Sharia courts on cases concerning conversion from Islam and certain areas of family law involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

  • Forced religious conversions and religious intolerance are evidence of creeping Islamization in Malaysia. Whenever there is a conflict between Muslim and non-Muslims, the tendency is for Muslim Laws to prevail over the non-Muslim issues regardless of the merits of the case.

  • The decision of the Court of Appeal on 21st August 2010 in the case of Maniam Moorthy is a disturbing trend in the role of the Judiciary which has abdicated its powers to the inferior Sharia Courts which was meant to serve the Muslims only on matters (personal) pertaining to marriage, divorce, property distribution ect.

  • Lina Joy, 42, who was born to a Malay Muslim couple, became a Christian when she was 26.

  • She lost her final round of appeal when the Federal Court dismissed her appeal on 30th May 2007 against a ruling that the National Registration Department was right not to allow her to remove the word "Islam" from her identity card.

  • In August 2010 The newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, The Herald, filed a legal suit at following warnings that its permit could be revoked if it did not cease use of the word "Allah" in the Malay language section of its newspaper.

  • Several Malaysian churches have been attacked and fire bombed, leaving at least one badly damaged, in an escalating dispute over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians.

  • A religious edict (fatwa) by a Muslim cleric in the state of Sabah caused the Sabah state government to cancel the construction of a 108 feet Goddess of Sea Mazu statue by the Taoist in 2008.

  • In August 2011 The Selangor Religious Department raided a Church dinner function organised by an NGO on allegation of Christian proselytizing campaign.

  • According to the government, it allocated 428 million ringgit (approximately $125.9 million) to build Islamic places of worship and 8.1 million ringgit ($2.4 million) to build Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and other minority religions' places of worship between 2005 and the end of 2008. (in answer to a Parliamentary question)

  • Throughout the years since Malaysian independence in 1957, the government has been disregardful of the systematic destruction of Hindu places of worship, which previously stood on estates and state owned estates and land. An estimate of about 10,000 Hindu places of worship have been demolished.

  • The government justifies the demolition of the places of worship on the grounds that they were illegally constructed or were occupying government land. Planning and building laws never existed at the time of the construction of these places of worships.


Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world is central to U.S. foreign policy and consistent with the values upon which the United States was founded. The Malaysian minorities long to live with dignity and freedom but are denied dignity and freedom by a racist regime that has developed over the last 50 years in the name of affirmative action for the majority. The endless extensions of the affirmative action policies have now led to serious Human Rights violations of the minorities in the country. This is inconsistent with developments around the world and with the aspirations of the minorities of Malaysia.

It is time for the international community to hold the Malaysian government accountable for this performance. The world has to wake up to these developments in Malaysia, for the future of this trajectory is being told many times over, in what is happening around the world today.

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