British lawyer Suresh Grover’s fact-finding mission takes him to various places around the country, including visiting poorly maintained Hindu cemeteries.
“There is no dignity even in death for Tamils. It’s happening here today… it’s shocking,” the visiting British lawyer who is on a fact-finding mission to Malaysia told some 100 residents here last night.
Suresh described several Hindu cemeteries that he visited as swamp-like graveyards lying on water-logged landscape without proper drainage and engulfed by overgrown vegetation.
Although he acknowledged that a segment of ethnic Indians were living in the comfort zone, he said the bulk of the community was still impoverished.
He blamed the sub-standard quality of life of these working class Indians on state-sponsored marginalisation policies.
Since arriving here, Suresh said he saw ethnic Indians besieged with problems such as stateless status, lack of basic education and housing, and religious conversion.
“I am not saying that Malaysians are racists. But definitely there are elements to prove institutionalised racism,” said the prominent human rights lawyer.
Besides his fact-finding mission, Suresh is here to meet potential co-claimants for the US$4 trillion suit to be re-filed by Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy against the British government.
Suresh arrived in Malaysia on Friday afternoon with another British human rights lawyer Imran Khan, who was refused entry.
Originally, Waythamoorthy filed the suit against the British government in London on Aug 31, 2007, seeking compensation for Indian Malaysians whose ancestors were brought into Malaya as indentured labourers.
However, it was stalled following the Malaysian government’s clampdown on Hindraf and the arrest of several lawyers under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The suit laid claim that after granting independence to Malaya, the British had left the Indians without representation and at the mercy of the Umno government.
‘Hindraf is not racist’
During a visit to Nibong Tebal later, he met an aging widow with 14 children living in a room. Her monthly income was the mere RM300 pension received for her years of service in a nearby plantation.
He also met an elderly couple. The Muslim man and his Hindu wife got married in 1966 and have 10 children and 45 grandchildren.
“But until today, the government has not recognised their marriage,” he said.
He said the couple’s children were forced to be registered as Muslims merely to obtain relevant identity certificates, although all of them were practicing Hindus.
In Kampung Medan, Petaling Jaya, Suresh met an Indian man, who was seriously injured during the racial attacks that happened there over a decade ago.
Suresh was dismayed that until today, the authorities had not compensated or, arrested and prosecuted anyone even though four people were murdered and 13 others severely wounded .
“There must be social justice, equality, freedom and civil liberty if a country wants to grow as a peaceful developed nation and democracy,” he stressed.
He rubbished claims by detractors that Hindraf was a racist organisation and its British suit was politically motivated.
“I know Waythamoorthy for years, he has never been racist. Hindraf struggle is not racist… it’s against racism. Imran and I would never have taken up the case if Hindraf was racist,” he pointed out.
He equated Hindraf struggle with that of the American black civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
He said the suit was purely legal and not about political vengeance against the British or other quarters.
However, he acknowledged that a case of such magnitude would surely have political, socio-economic and cultural impacts.
“It’s unprecedented as never before a former colonial subject has filed a class action against the British government. We need thousands of documents to prove our case … it’s challenging,” he said.
Overwhelming number of clients
However he added that the number was overwhelming
“There is no shortage of claimants despite the situation that they (the Indian minority) are in,” he said, adding that Wathamoorthy was the first claimant.
He also said that Hindraf’s lead counsel Imran would visit Malaysia again despite being deported last week
“Imran cannot be stopped unless he obstructs the police in a criminal case,” he said, urging lawyers in Malaysia to raise the issue on the basis that the claimants need to see their legal counsel.
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Media Event 17/8/11: PC on UK lawyer Suresh Grover’s conclusion on fact finding mission to Malaysia as part of the legal team taking up HINDRAF Civil Suit against British Government
Photos 17/8/11: U.K. Suresh Grover visits Bukit Jalil Estate: Indian Village, Tamil School, Hindu Temple & Cemetery to be ethnically cleansed by UMNO.
Photos 14/8/11: HINDRAF Lawyer Suresh Grover from London on civil suit by Malaysians of Indian origin against British Government for negligence during their colonial past and the aftermath.@ Hokkien Hall, Klang.