Sunday, August 15, 2010

Malaysian Indian Gangstarz

Today I watched an interesting Tamil documentary on TV3. The weekly show focuses on the many social problems the Indian community in Malaysia faces. Today's show was particularly interesting because it discussed the issue of gangsterisme among our local Indian community, which has been a problem for decades.

A social activist was interviewed in the show. He told the audience the history of gangsterisme among our community. Most Indians in Malaysia come from rubber estate settlements. But after the global drop in the price of rubber, many estates all across the country were closed down. With no other choice, many of these estate dwellers had to migrate to urban areas, thus becoming urban settlers.

Since these urban settlers do not have a stable income once left jobless after the rubbers estates are shut down, they set up their homes in slums in big towns and cities. Those with a little more money would settle down in low-cost flats, housing areas and places like that.

In rubber estates, the community was part of a well-organized and systematic social structure. There were Tamil schools, polyclinics, temples run by locals, community centers and much more. But in large towns and cities, it is difficult to these similar facilities that cater to a Tamil-speaking, clannish people.

For instance, these children will now be enrolled into national schools where they will be forced to integrate with students from different races, which is difficult considering the fact these kids grew up in an environment where they only knew Tamil-speaking Indians. Even urban Indian children do not speak their own mother tongue, but prefer to converse in English most of the time, even within their own households.

Not to mention the stereotypical view that urban Indians have towards estate Indians. Estate Indians are often victims of certain stereotypes like being unintelligent, always using vulgar language, fanatic over Tamil masala films, being drunkards and much more.

Now I understood how difficult life must be for these former estate dwellers to integrate into mainstream urban society because of their rural background. As our country progressed, the Indian community generally remained the same since most of us from the estates. In a certain desperation for attention and power, many Indian youth turn to gangsterisme.

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