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 Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader, Presiden Kongres India Muslim Malaysia *Mungkin KIMMA ada video yang membuktikan PM kata indiamuslim adalah bumiputra…kalau ada tolong emailkan kepada kami…kami masih kasihankanKIMMA walaupun ramai yang meninggalkan kerana menjadi “rakan media KIMMA”…
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Gujarat cop Sanjeev Bhatt’s revelations, contained in his affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, may come as a surprise to many. But for all those who lived in Gujarat during those fateful days and were in the thick of things, the contents only provide substantiation of what they had heard then. A top police officer of the state told me a couple of days after the riots started how director general of poice K Chakravarthy was uncomfortable on being told by Narendra Modi at a meeting to allow Hindus to vent their feelings.Though perturbed, Chakravarthy, a naturally timid person, could not muster the guts to stand up to his boss. So, instead he lamented to top police officers like the person to whom I had spoken. Or at least that is what the officer told me.

images of a Genocide: Muslim burnt

We probably mix up with these two terminologies. Many a times we use ‘LEADERS’ where actually we should have used ‘REPRESENTATIVES’. These are just two examples of our reckless use of words without much reflection. A leader, to me, is a mirror. He holds fast to the TRUTH which he has reached out to after years of hard work and (re)search. He holds that truth closest to his heart and dearer than anything else. He shows the same truth as a mirror to his people.

The people reject and ridicule the leaders for a while and after only due passage of time accept them. This is almost always the case. The leaders know their people very well and the times they live in. They have a very clear idea about what is happening and why. They are well aware of what is not happening and why not. And what needs to be done to change the situation and how. They do not exploit a situation as do the representatives.

Our leaders are those who take us from one stage to another and a tangible difference is recorded by history – unmistakably. They treat their people not as they are but as they can and should be. They remove a lot many cobwebs in the minds of their people and educate them. They give new meaning to the words. They awaken them from deep slumber instead of lulling them into sleep at the noontime. Despite all these favors they are hardly ever garlanded. And they do not worry about it either. They are more concerned about garlanding their people.

An Indian Muslim can be anyone of Indian ancestry who is a Muslim. Tamils, Keralas, Punjabis, Sindhis, Mahrattas, Hydrabadis etc are all Indian Muslims. But in Malaysia a large majority of Indian Muslims are Tamil speaking. Hence the term Indian Muslim is generally applied to the Tamil speaking Indian Muslims. In Malaysia, Indian Muslims are also known as mamaks, DKK (darah keturunan keling), Kelings and Jawi Peranakan. The last one Jawi Peranakan is a strange misnomer. There is even a recent book written about the Jawi Peranakan which actually talks about the Indian Muslims.In contemporary Malaysia Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhari, Zainuddin Mydin, Siti Nurhaliza binti “Thaarudeen”, Justice Haidar Mohd Noor, Ahmad Nawab, Akbar Nawab, P Ramlee, Man Bhai, Tan Sri Elyas Omar, Tan Sri Ali Abul Hassan are all Indian Muslims or descended from Indian Muslims. Malaysia’s first Speaker of Parliament Tan Sri CM Yusuf was a mamak. So was the permanent Chairman of UMNO Tan Sri Sulaiman “Ninam” Shah. ‘Ninam’ is actually truncated Tamil for ‘Naina Mohamed’. Former Sabah Chief Minister Dato Harris Salleh and present Chief Minister Musa Aman are all mamaks. They are not Pushtuns, Pakistanis or Yemenis.

Among our Prime Ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the son of an Indian Muslim. Abdullah Badawi has mamak blood from his father’s side. Toh Puan Sharifah Radziah Syed Alwi Barakbah, the wife of our first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman, had mamak ancestry. The Tunku himself was of mixed Thai and mamak parentage. Ex DPM Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim’s father is a mamak. The intellectuals Kassim Ahmad and Farish Noor have Indian Muslim fathers while the late Tan Sri Muhammad Noordin Sopiee had a mamak grandfather. Munir Majid is a Tamil speaking mamak and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is a mamak too.

Here it is pertinent to note the “Syed” and “Sheikh” name. Among Indian Muslims the name Syed or Sheikh is common, its no big deal. The names “Shah” and “Khan” are also very common mamak names. Other ‘Malay’ names like ‘Chik’, ‘Tamby Chik’ and ‘Keling’ are definitely of mamak origins too.

The name ‘Shah’ is not common among the Malays but strangely enough it is very common among the Malay sultans, for example Sultan Azlan Shah and Raja Nazrin Shah. Shah is NOT an Arabic name. It originates from Persia and comes to Malaysia from India through the Indian Muslim influence. This is just more indication of the mamak ancestry of our Malay rulers.

But among kampong Malays the name Syed and Sheikh are supposed to indicate Arab ancestry, the name Syed being associated with ‘keturunan nabi’ or lineage from the Prophet. To the kampong Malays these names are a really big deal. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Another common mamak name is ‘Maricar’. Actually it is ‘Marikiyaar’. This has evolved into ‘Merican’. Hence the thousands of Malays who bear the ‘Merican’ name today are also of mamak ancestry. They call themselves Jawi Peranakan. They are actually mamak.

Many smart Indian Muslims realized very early on this Malay liking for Arabic names and Arab ancestry. So they started passing themselves off, (or did not object if they were referred to) as Arabs, usually of Yemeni descent. In Malaysia too many Syeds and Sheikhs from among the Malays today are actually recycled mamaks. One good example is Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhari. Among the Malay elite Tan Sri Syed Mukhtar Bukhari passes of as being of Yemeni descent. His family actually comes from India. The former mayor of KL Tan Sri Elyas Omar is also of Tamil mamak origins from Penang.

Among the Malays it is also ‘ok’ if a mamak is from Pakistani descent. Perhaps Pakistan is closer to Bollywood. So some clever mamaks claim to be from Pakistan. The former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh and present Chief Minister Musa Aman are said to be ‘of Pakistan origins’ but in actual fact they are of Indian mamak ancestry, and usually Tamil speaking.

Mamaks come in all colours and complexions from the dark skinned to the light skinned, green eyed and brown eyed types. A visit to the Masjid Kapitan Keling in Pitt Street in Penang or Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur on a Friday will witness all varieties of mamak.

The Indian Muslims in Malaysia today can be classified as follows :

Those mamaks who have inter married with Malays for generations and have actually become Malays. You can only know their mamak ancestry by their mamak sounding names like Merican, Shah, Syed, Sheikh etc, by their ‘Indian’ appearances – prominent nose, rounder eyes etc.
Those mamaks who have not inter married with Malays but who have assimilated closely into the Malay culture. They can only speak Malay and have cut off almost all their links with India. These would include thousands of mamaks in Penang, Kedah, Melaka and other parts of the country. Only their DNA remains Indian. But practically, for all intents and purposes they are Malay.
Those mamaks who are still very much Tamil and who can only speak pasar Malay. They may not have links with India but they watch Tamil movies and do not read the Malay papers or know much about the Malays. Despite being born in Malaysia they still would not know a ‘kuih talam’ from an ‘otak-otak’. Many KIMMA members fall in this category. That is why they still call themselves Kongres Indian Muslim Malaysia after the Indian Congress Party of Panditji Jawaharlal Nehru.
Those mamaks who are still very much Tamil and who cannot even speak pasar Malay despite being born in Malaysia. They will not know ‘nasi lemak’ from a hole in the ground. They will have strong family ties to India. They watch Tamil movies and know more about Tamil Nadu politics than Malaysia politics. They read Tamil Nesan and Malaysian Nanban religiously everyday to find out what is happening in Tamil Nadu and India. Again many KIMMA members also fall into this category.
Before 1970 the last two classes of Indian Muslims above (no.3 & 4) were usually overtly prejudiced against the Malays. Before 1970 many of them were not even citizens of the country. Their slang term for Malays was ‘valayan-katti’. This is a term invented by Tamil estate workers but which became widely used by most Tamils including Indian Muslims to describe Malays.

A ‘valayan’ means wire. ‘Katti’ means to tie something. So ‘valayan-katti means ‘a person who ties a wire’. What does this mean? In the early days of the rubber industry, the British tried to get the Malays to tap the rubber trees. However the native Malays had problems tapping the rubber tree in the proper manner and ended up injuring the tree, reducing the output of rubber. The British had better luck getting the trees properly tapped with the Tamils from India. Malays were then delegated the simpler job of using wire (valayan) to tie (katti) the little latex cups to the rubber tree. Hence the name ‘valayan-katti’.

Another Tamil term used for Malays is ‘naattu kaaran’ or ‘naattan’ which means ‘native’.

Before 1970 the type 3 and 4 mamaks above and everyone else did not see much in the Malays. But post 1970 and the New Economic Policy the mamaks realized that they suddenly depended on the Malay for everything, especially the ever precious ‘Entry Permit’ to get Permanent Resident status in Malaysia. Until then few mamaks got married in Malaysia. They always went back to India to get married. After 1970 and the NEP, the trend disappeared in a hurry. The Malays refused to give Entry Permits for mamak brides and grooms from India. All of a sudden mamaks realized that they were short of wives and husbands. Hence the rate of inter marriage between mamaks and Malays increased tremendously after 1970. After 38 years of the NEP, the mamaks are even more assimilated now through marriage than ever before. Today there is rarely a mamak family which does not have a Malay son or daughter in law.

Post 1970, the mamaks realized that real political power and with it economic largesse had shifted to the Malays. But many mamaks included in class 1 and 2 above had no problem with this shift in power because often they were the ones holding high office. For example the first Speaker of Parliament CM Yusuf, a mamak, was his own power in his day. It was only the class 3 and 4 mamaks described above who were (and still are) slow in assimilating into becoming Malaysians. The KIMMA represents many of these people.

Hence the present scramble among them to be recognized as bumiputras, to get Malay classification in the Birth Certificate, BIN in the IC etc.

But it is a fact that the Indian Muslims are heavily intermarried with Malays. This trend started over 600 years ago and continues until today. They and their offspring have played major roles in the history of this country. Sang Nila Utama, Parameswara, Tun Ali, Hang Kasthuri, Hang Tuah, Mani Purindan, Tun Teja, Abdullah Munshi and ALL the Malay Sultans are descended from Indian Muslims. The Perlis Royal family is almost certainly of mamak/Thai mix.

It is also true beyond any single doubt that from their earliest history here, the mamaks have had extreme affection which the Indian Muslims have had for the Malays throughout history. This could be attributed to the similarities in religion but there are also other Muslims in the country (including from India) like Pakistanis, Punjabi Muslims, Patans and also others like the Chinese Muslims.

Although the Indian Muslims are generally friendly with all races there is not as much intermarriage between Indian Muslims and other Muslims compared to the heavy intermixing and intermarriages between Indian Muslims and the Malays.

And it is an established fact (evidenced by all the names mentioned above) that throughout history the Indian Muslims have always stepped forward to defend the rights of the Malays. In the process many of the Indian Muslims have lost their identity almost completely to the Malays. Who are the descendants of the Tamil educated Munshi Abdullah today? No one knows. A DNA test will reveal Indian DNA among all our Malay rulers but which Sultan can or wants to retrace his Indian ancestry? These are the mamaks who assimilated into the Malay community from generations ago.

Fast forward to today : in UMNO there are thousands of mamaks fighting for Malay rights. In PAS there are mamaks fighting for Islam (aka Malay) rights. PAS stalwart Hanipa Mydin is a pure mamak while Deputy MB of Kelantan Dato Husam Musa may have mamak blood. In the old Keadilan ‘brother’ Abdul Rahman Othman, another mamak tulen, became party secretary general and then quit later – to join PAS. In the Civil Service and in the Melayu korporat sector there are thousands of mamaks helping the NEP ‘social engineering’ come true.

In Penang pure Malays are a rarity. As late as the 80s, they could only be found in Sungai Ara, Balik Pulau and other places where there were no roads. In all other places in Penang, mamak blood is almost a certainty. Hence words like ‘chacha’ and ‘nana’ are a part of Penang Malay. In Kedah and Melaka the mamak ‘penetration’ of the Malay populace is much more earlier than in Penang. Which means the mamaks in Kedah and Melaka have diluted their DNA into the Malay population from much earlier (from Portugese, Dutch and British times).

In short mamaks are a permanent feature of the Malay ‘make up’. It is the karma of the mamaks that they have become kurma in Malaysia.

The leaders talk to their people in clear and understandable terms. They are never confused about their own ideas. They clearly stand for something. And that something is clearly known to all. They talk to their own people more than ever talking on their behalf to others. This is what marks the LEADERS from REPRESENTATIVES. A leader is a life-long leader whether anyone follows him or doesn’t. This is not the case with representatives. They certainly need someone to represent.

A ‘representative’ only represents. This is his job. This is his career. He does not lead. Because he has no clear idea of the path and the destination. There are many external factors which make him a REPRESETATIVE. But he considers himself a leader and the people, too, consider him a leader. It compounds the whole situation. And it is hardly realized. Generations come and go but the confusion between ‘leaders’ and ‘representatives’ persists.

If we decide not to mix up between ‘LEADERS’ and ‘REPRESENTATIVES’ and use these two terms quite judiciously it will make a difference. A simple change of description will take away the charm from ‘leadership’ and it might set a few things right. Let us resolve to be very careful in the use of words like these and try our best to regain the lost meanings – a precondition for changing the discourse and moving towards rebirth.

After having established educational institutions with a VISION where our job is (or should be) to ‘develop a coherent body of ideas and creatively reach out to the unknown with critical and scientific thinking in order to arrive at the whole picture’ we will not need one single leader to show the mirror. We will get plenty of them from our Institutions. If we aren’t getting them now it is because of an incorrect concept of knowledge and lack of the following clear VISION:

The students coming out of our Colleges and Universities should have Qur’an in the right hand, most modern scientific and technological advancements in the left hand and the crown of Laa Ilaah on the forehead. So that the Muslims regain the same glorious status of founders and promoters of science and technology as they did during the ascendance of their civilization.

It is a fact that representation of Muslims in Indian politics ever sinceindependence has been disproportionately low, ranging between 6 – 8%, as compared to their share in the Indian population which is estimated to be around 14%, but believed to be even higher. 

The reasons for such low representation vary from the lack of effective Muslim leadership to the nepotism and favoritism of Political bigwigs. The fear of political parties that non-Muslim electorates may not choose to elect a Muslim candidate, stands, perhaps, as the greatest deterrent for most of the parties to field many Muslim candidates in elections. 

These together have created an almost communal environment where Muslims have hardly any say in the ruling of the State even though they form a considerable portion of the electorate.

There are other factors such as affirmative actions in favor of Scheduled Castes/Tribes (SC/ST), which have snatched away a significant portion, roughly 22% of the parliamentary seats and over 27% of the state assembly seats, of constituencies from Muslim candidates. 

The Muslims, being nearly excluded from SC/STs, cannot even compete in the election in the reserved seats. And quite surprisingly, it has been observed that there is a deliberate attempt to discriminate against Muslim using the reservation policy.

The fact has been brought to light by media platform such as that on the one hand, many constituencies where SC/STs comprise the majority of electorates are not reserved for them. 

On the other hand, there are a large number of constituencies where majority or a significant fraction of the electorate is from the Muslim community and a small population of the SCs but the seats have been reserved for SCs. 

This seems to be a deliberate attempt to deprive the Muslim community of its leadership. Such moves, whether involuntary or deliberate, have further reduced the chances of Muslim candidates winning the election.

Another such apprehension, regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill, seems not entirely unfounded. At present, the level of Muslim women’s participation in public life has been minimal. If the Women’s Reservation Bill is introduced, as it reserves 33% of the seats for women, can very well take away some more of the seats that presently elect Muslim legislators. 

Given the electoral trends in India, the prospect of the reverse happening, that is, Muslim women getting elected from an otherwise non-Muslim dominated constituency seems negligible.

Considering a total disempowerment and underdevelopment of Indian Muslims in nearly all walks of life as pointed out by the Sachar Committee report, it becomes imperative to think of enhancing the share of representation for Muslims in the political machinery. 

This realization prompts a set of questions: How can the representation of Muslims be increased? Should there be some political parties exclusively for or dominated by Muslims? Is it better if the mainstream parties provide equitable opportunities to Muslim candidates to participate in the elections?

Since the first question can be answered by answering the later questions, I would like to discuss the relative pros and cons of the later two. 

If there are parties exclusively for or dominated by only Muslims’ interests, then the outcome is going to be inefficient and hence, is a loss for everyone. 

For instance, when voting is done on the basis of religion/sect caste etc., the criterion for preference is something other than the leadership quality of the candidate. So the leader elected by such a partisan process may not be the best one for the electorate.

Another demerit of such process is that if Hindus vote on religious line in favor of pro-Hindu parties and or pro-Hindu candidates, and then Muslims follow the same and vice versa. Even worse, if the game continues, then Muslims will ultimately be the biggest losers. Since in majority of the constituencies in India non-Muslims dominate the electorate, it will be difficult for Muslim candidates to win the election.

Even if the Muslim candidates win a few seats, the Muslim affiliated parties will seldom have a majority to form the Government so they will be left in the opposition. If the Muslim representatives perpetually sit in the opposition, what benefits are they likely to bring to their constituencies? So the Muslim community ultimately suffers because of the partisan politics.

Another potential, and the gravest, consequence is that such partisan politics of Muslims supporting a pro-Muslim party will give the right wing parties a sound pretext to garner support in religious lines. Consequently, suppose, Hindus start supporting pro-Hindutva parties. This may potentially lead to a complete polarization of the Indian society.

Imagine a nation inflicted with partisan politics; a few Muslim leaders from pro-Muslim parties sitting helplessly in the opposition and reckless Hindu leaders from staunch Hindutva brigades ruling the assembly or parliament! 

Can India, composite as it is, survive such a degenerate politics? How many more Babri Masjids will be demolished? How many more Gujarat Massacre will be repeated? Is there any prospect of socioeconomic development is such a scenario?

A partisan politics may, in the short run, benefit the right wing fundamentalist Hindutva parties but this is a mistake the Muslims of India can’t afford to make, since their number does not favor them. Muslims cannot afford to be communal.

The recent developments leading to formation of Muslim dominated political parties and winning quite a few seats in the state elections, except Tamil Nadu, can be viewed as a positive sign of change. 

This shows the Muslim communities’ stronger spirit of political participation and increased confidence in the democratic process. However, this should not be construed as Muslims’ victory over non-Muslims. Rather this, should be viewed as, and in fact, is merely an indication that Muslims have not been satisfied with the policies of the mainstream political parties.

This development of Muslim dominated parties and Muslim religious organization such as the Jamat-e-Islami (Hind) joining mainstream politics is a call to the mainstream parties like the Congress,  the CPI (M), the BJP, etc. that there needs to be a thorough change in their mode of functioning, especially, policies of nominating candidates for election. 

Eligible Muslim candidates need and deserve an equitable share in the election otherwise things may go against the parties’ interests, and ultimately against everyone’s interests. 

The fact that given a chance, Muslim candidates can do well in the election has been proven by the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. This is an example which other mainstream parties can emulate.

So far, the Muslim community led political parties have refrained from partisanship by inducting non-Muslim members and giving them key positions both in the party as well as while giving nominations. Such a balanced policy is a must for any political party in India, not only for the sake of political correctness, but also for its own survival.

Irrespective of who launches a party, the future course of action of a political party must display the spirit of democracy and utmost secularism; otherwise these new parties will also become the victims of communalism and sectarianism from which the older parties have already been suffering.

The Indian electorate has already dumped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its communal character, signaled the left for its covert rightist bias, and shaken the base of the Indian National Congress for its incapability to maintain a secular character in action. 

However strong the communal and disruptive force maybe, but the Indian society, except for occasional perturbations, has shown its resilience by reverting back to secular and composite values.

So it is a challenge before all the political parties, right, center, and left leaning, new and old alike – thrown by the people of the world’s largest democracy that prove yourself by uniting the communities and not by segregating one from the other, by effective leadership and progressive policies or you will be thrown out of the race and out of the place. 

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