Malaysian Indian Minority and 2018 General election


Malaysia’s 14th general election was a state of shock to everyone, as the position Pakatan Harapan defeated the Barisian Nasional Government which ruled the country for over 60 years. With this Minority Malaysian Indian Community were filled with new energy and spirits. The Idea and Vision of “New Malaysia” was held high in spirits and an energy to move forward in a holistic way. This paper sheds light on the key aspects of how HINDRAF managed to play a crucial role in the Politics of Malaysia. This is also the premier organisation to look over the Rights of Hindu Minority population in the country. With the political movements there were instances where HINDRAF was tested to its endurance, this paper discusses that how the advances this organisation made when put through those tests proved in serving its puroose of protecting, promoting and supporting the rights of minorities. This paper starts with a general Historical Background of the country which would give an idea of what are ethnic and religious groups which consists of the population of the country.


Historical background


Malaysia was for centuries a focal piece of the Malay world, with numerous Hindu or Buddhist realms definitely known to exist in the second century AD. The Negritos are believed to be peninsular Malaysia’s initially remaining occupants, and may have been available in this piece of Asia for maybe 10,000 years or more. Nearly 4,000 years prior, another community moved in based on what is by and large idea to be south China: these are known as the main Malay individuals – or Proto-Malays. There may likewise have been some Mon-Khmer talking people moving into the landmass approximately 4,000 years prior, who seem to have blended in with the Proto-Malays.

All things considered, Islam previously showed up in the area with Arab dealers before the 10th century. The previously known Malay ruler to change over to Islam in the twelfth century was Sultan Muzaffar Shah I of Kedah. Islam’s advancement starting here on quickened, with the province of Terengganu turning into the main Islamic Malay state in 1303. The change in 1414 of the Hindu sovereign Parameswara (who hence became Sultan Megat Iskandar Shah) of Malacca – maybe perhaps the most impressive Malay states – was a further achievement in the Islamification of Malaysia.

The European presence was embarked in the sixteenth century, with Malacca captured by the Portuguese in 1511 and by the Dutch in 1641and the British in 1786. The appearance of the Europeans broke the political union of the Malay world, which separated into bunches of sultanates and coastal plains of present-day Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

It was after the Second World War that a dissident development, under the administration of the Communist Party of Malaya and, as per approximately, countless Chinese, started a guerrilla battle to drive the British out of Malaya. This uprising was to proceed until 1960, however the Federation of Malaya acquired freedom in 1957. It was renamed Malaysia when the British regions of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak went along with it in 1963, however Singapore was to leave the federation under two years in 1965. Singapore’s takeoff hence guaranteed that Malays were a greater part in the excess Federation of Malaysia. Ethnic pressures stayed intense in the early long periods of freedom, as disdain over the Chinese minority’s authority over pieces of the economy was profoundly felt by certain Malays.

Minorities in Malaysia

Malaysia a country where Islam is the official religion and other main religions consist of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Taoism and many more. Among these the Minority groups are, Chinese which constitute of 7.4 million approximately 23.4 percent of the population is the largest minority group of Malaysia followed by Indians having  2.2 million  and constitute about 7% of the total population.[1]

Malaysia since the early days is ethnically diverse because of the human presence from south of Asia. Ethnic Malays establish today over portion of the population. The Chinese establish the country’s biggest minority. Native individuals, extensively assembled as Anak Negeri, Orang Ulu and Orang Asli, are thought to on the whole include roughly 13.9 percent of the population.

By far most of ethnic Malays are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi’I school of thought, while a large number of the native communities from Sabah and Sarawak are Christians or Muslims. As far as it matters for them, most however not all Indians are Hindus, while the Chinese are by and large Buddhists or Christians.


Introduction to Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF)


HINDRAF started from an alliance of Indian and Hindu non-legislative associations in Malaysia and consists of mostly Tamil Hindus. It was a zenith in 2006 of a few public controversies including destruction of Hindu temples and conversion of Hindus to Islam. The official clarification was that the temples were illegally built. The converted people were who died were not allowed to be cremated by the desires of their Hindu families. These cases were additionally critical on account of the unfriendly outcomes endured by the Hindus because of the obscured limits between the Syariah and legislation which was claimed to be secular.

Despite the fact that HINDRAF featured the political, economic and social minimization of Indians in Malaysia, the issue that drew increased feeling from the Indian people group was principally strict. The occurrence which created the spark in of public included the late Everest hiker, M Moorthy, who was serving in the Malaysian military. At the point when he passed on, his body was “grabbed” from the emergency clinic by Muslim activists (who demanded that the perished had changed over to the Islamic confidence) from his Hindu relatives. Despite the fact that HINDRAF pioneers made it realized freely that they were set up to confront arrest for their motive, they affirmed that HINDRAF had a history of serene fights and the police need not dread public unsettling influence during the rally. Regardless of this consolation, hours before the convention was planned to happen, the police used tear gas and bound water cannons to scatter hordes of Indians who had assembled in different pieces of Kuala Lumpur.

Uthayakumar HINDRAF leader guaranteed that the police had terminated tear gas at those resting in the Batu Caves Temple as ahead of schedule as 4 a.m. It was assessed that the 700 Indians assembled at Batu Caves were arrested.[2] This was the Gave a kick start to a revolutionary movement in the politics of Malaysia. There were also Funding of this institution to organise and run tuitions for Indian to clear government examinations. There was likewise the  allocation of Amanah Saham unit trusts for the Indian people group. To exhibit that Barisan Nasional was happy to work with Indians outside the Malaysian Indian Community, Najib upheld the launch of Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party (MMSP) headed by a previous HINDRAF lobbyist and which was to turn into a segment gathering of Barisan Nasional.[3]

The Crack

The Kampung Buah Pala issue was the defining moment in relations among Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and HINDRAF. Penang’s state government under PR wouldn’t relinquish the former arrangement of the past Barisan Nasional state government to destroy Kampung Buah Pala, the only Indian traditional town, to offer route to a condo housing project. The PR Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was unsympathetic and his treatment of the issue was loathed by the Indians who started to understand that the PR chiefs were no in a way that is better than the Barisan Nasional lawmakers when managing Indian issues.[4] After this it was clear that PR was loosing support of Indians supporting HINDRAF. It also became clear that HINDRAF had a Credible and strong political base. Somehow after the 13th election the momentum of HINDRAF was weakened because of the danger of government concealment and less temple destruction cases and conversion incidents. Waythamoorthy member of HINDRAF took the baton ahead and started the agitation against the government. This lead to confiscation of his passport which was formerly revoked by the government. He went to 21 days hunger strike named “Hunger Virantham” which gathered a lot of attention among human rights group around the world. This was also a call for a five year blueprint for HINDRAF.[5] However, Waythamoorthy figured out how to hit an arrangement with Prime Minister Najib Razak. They marked a MOU among HINDRAF and the government for taking up the socio-economic condition of the Indian people group in Malaysia. At the marking function of the MOU, Waythamoorthy encouraged Indian citizens to help the in-power Barisan Nasional in the 2013 general political race. Following this overall political race, Najib designated Waythamoorthy as a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Nonetheless, in February 2014, Waythamoorthy resigned contending that the Barisan Nasional government had breached trust and neglected to begin the change expected to help the Malaysian Indian people group.


2018 Elections and results

In 2017, in anticipation of the upcoming fourteenth general political race, Prime Minister Najib Razak additionally divulged a ten-year program for the Malaysian Indian people group, the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB). The central issues of this ten-year program included looking to the financing and instructive necessities of the Indian people group, their standard of induction into the Malaysian common help, quicker freedom for citizenship and making a public sanctuary information base to follow every single Hindu temple.[6] With the commencement to the overall political race in 2018, Waythamoorthy got back to the front line and officially enlisted HINDRAF as Persatuan HINDRAF Malaysia (PHM). The head of the resistance Pakatan Harapan alliance, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, acknowledged PHM as a “essential accomplice” of Pakatan Harapan as opposed to being taken in as an alliance part because of the issue of discretionary seat distributions. In a Youtube video it was pretty understandable that deal was being struck between Waythamoorthy and Mahathi. Mahathi was a former Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003. It was both of them who highlighted the problems issues of the Malaysian Tamil people group, which incorporate accomplishing educational  and financial help for the local people’s underclass, an absence of chances for the Tamils, the issue of temple  destruction and protection of Hindu incineration grounds. As a trade-off for Mahathir’s help, Waythamoorthy guaranteed that HINDRAF would lobby for Pakatan Harapan under the mantra of “Zero decision in favor of Barisan Nasional”.

Under Waythamoorthy’s leadership HINDRAF figured out to swing 88% of the Malaysian Indian votes to Pakatan Harapan that prompted the noteworthy destruction of Barisan National in the 2018 general election. Non-Malays who viewed the fourteenth general election in a non-partisan way asserted that the triumph of Pakatan Harapan was just a greater part in the Malay electorate moving its faith from one Malay alliance (Barisan Nasional) to another (Pakatan Harapan). Assumptions stay that the exceptional situation of the Malays is excessively dug in inside the Malaysian political framework and can’t be destroyed within a term or two of Pakatan Harapan’s best aims in making Malaysia a more equitable society.

Temple Incident


There was an incident when Violence broke out between a Malay group employed by the Seafield Hindu temple land and the 1000-odd Indian devotees securing the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple from destruction. This brought back apprehensions among both the Malaysian Tamil people group and the Pakatan Harapan government. The Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya (edges of Kuala Lumpur) is supposed to be 140 years of age. Indian ranch laborers set up the temple for their worship. In any case, the temple is presently on private land bought by One City Development Sdn Bhd and had been gotten ready for reallocation. The Indian people group has made proposals to purchase the land; yet confusions went to a peak when the brutality emitted on 26 November 2018. Eighteen vehicles and two bikes were burnt in the episode. A police watch vehicle was harmed. One individual kicked the bucket from wounds.[7] Selangor EXCO member of HINDRAF, V Ganabatirau was quick to apologize over his explanation that it was a “Muslim gathering” that drove the assault on the Seafield temple. He also was grateful for the police response action as their action saved it to spark an ethic war between the two indigenous communities.[8]



The narrative of HINDRAF, featured in the areas of this paper, shows that characters matter in the mission for more even-handed treatment of the Malaysian Indians and their Hindu culture, religion and customs. The pioneers’ responsibility and enthusiasm for the prosperity of the Indian people group can’t be questioned. However, their capacity to energize the divided Indian ground into a strong and supportable political power has missed the mark at crucial points in time. Likewise, the interwoven of chronicled bargains and political give-and-take to have a useful multi-ethnic alliance to administer a socially and financially assorted nation have made an immense test for the small Indian group (7 to 8 percent of all out population in Malaysia) to make sure about all the rights and advantages it requires.

[1] Minority Rights Group. 2021. Malaysia – Minority Rights Group. [online] Available at: <>

[2] “Tear Gas Fired at Defiant Protesters” Malaysiakini, 25 November 2007.

[3] Kaur, Arunajeet (2017). Hindraf and the Malaysian Indians, Silverfish, Kuala Lumpur.

[4] “High Chaparral: Hindraf Blast State Government” Malaysiakini, 14 September 2009.

[5] Malaya Tribune, 24 February 1947., 4 October 2013.

[6] “Blueprint to Help Malaysian Indians” The Straits Times, 25 April 2017.

[7] “Seven Men Detained Over Seafield Temple Chaos, Several Vehicles Torched” Malaysiakini, 26 November 2018.

[8] “Azis Says Seafield Riots ‘Too Much’, Thanks Cops for ‘Controlling Situation’” Malaysiakini, 27 November 2018.

Article written by-

Krunal Parekh

Student at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy

(HRDI Internship)