A group representing Indian Malaysians have filed a suit against the British government seeking compensation of USD 1 million for each of the 1.8 million Indians in the country for allegedly failing to protect them when Malaysia was granted independence in 1957.
The claim was filed in the High Court by Malaysian exiled human rights lawyer Waytha Moorthy yesterday.
No date has been set for a hearing,but the Foreign Office has been asked to provide “crucial papers”,a spokeswoman for Moorthy said.
According to Moorthy,Indian Malaysians face human rights abuses and live unprotected and in “continuous colonisation” under the rule of the Malay-Muslim majority.
This current situation for the Indian community is,he argued,the direct legacy of the then British Government who gave the Muslim population special rights and privileges in perpetuity in Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia,”effectively establishing a system of apartheid which has marginalised Malaysian Indians ever since”.
He said: “In India,at the time of partition,the British Government gave rights to minorities. In Malaysia,minority racial and religious groups were hung out to dry.
“The result is that 45 per cent of the population is still being marginalised,humiliated and discriminated against when it comes to jobs,education and finance”.
Moorthy added: “Indians in Malaysia are suffering great hardship. The British Government needs to take responsibility,apologise,make reparation,and send out a strong message that the way the Malay Government is acting is morally wrong”. Indian labourers were sent to Malaya since the mid-nineteenth century.
Moorthy is the chairman of Hindraf,a group seeking equal rights for Malaysians of Indian origin. The group is banned in Malaysia.