Malaysians are hoping the PM’s message of moderation and understanding is reflected on the ground, writes Prema Devaraj.
Hello everyone and belated Deepavali greetings to all our Hindu members, readers and supporters! May the festival of lights serve as a beacon of hope that good will triumph over evil – eventually.
Now on to our news this week.
Aliran welcomes the Prime Minister’s consistency in calling for moderation not only in his speech in the UN recently in early October but also in his denouncing of racial and religious extremism at the recent Gerakan national delegates conference as well as in his Deepavali statement.
It is our sincere hope that this message of moderation and understanding is reflected on the ground through actions taken against those who promote bigotry and incite racial and religious tensions, through the opening up of spaces for democratic thought and actions and through the allowing of differing religious interpretations and discussion.
While calls for moderation and the opening up of democratic spaces are being made, the Sedition Act and its use of late seems to be criminalising the expression of thought. The use of what is seen by many as selective prosecution has added to the fervour of the anti-sedition campaign (Gerakan Hapuskan Akta Hasutan, GHAH). There have been signature petitions, creative protests at the recent Aliran Fund Raising Dinner and even a peaceful protest walk by 2500 Malaysian lawyers, activists and supporters.
Aliran continues to call upon all our e-newsletter readers to sign the Anti-Sedition Act petition.
On a different level, many of us are bemoaning the rise in the cost of petrol; others are wondering how to make ends meet. For many middle-income Malaysians in urban areas like Penang, KL and JB, buying a house is next to impossible – what more for those from the lower-income group.
The situation is going to get worse for many families with the introduction of the GST without a safety net for those with low incomes. The falsehood of the 2015 budget is best explained in a budget parable
Additionally the current neo-liberal policies are giving rise to hardship for the bottom 60 per cent of the population, and this will worsen unless we look earnestly at alternatives for a viable economy and for the well being of the ordinary people.
So as we continue in our quest for a better Malaysia for all, let us not to forget the refugees and the migrant community who share and build this country with us. Ignoring their plight or blaming them for health issues (or crime for that matter) only serves to further marginalise them and leave them vulnerable to further exploitation and trafficking.