MEMORANDUM TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE RECENT
SOCIO-ECONOMIC CENTRED ETHNIC CLASHES
In light of the recent socio-economic centred ethnic violence in Kampung
Medan and its surrounding areas off Old Klang Road in Petaling Jaya,
we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens:
REAFFIRM Malaysia's position that all human beings are born free, equal
in dignity and rights, any doctrine of racial superiority is therefore,
scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous
and also has no justification whatsoever;
CONDEMN all forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance
in the context of fulfillment of civil, political, economic, social,
religious and cultural rights;
DEMAND Yang Amat Berhormat Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad
to initiate the following:
1) ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
There have been conflicting reports, accusations and counter-accusations
from several quarters since the violence erupted on March 8, 2001. Only
a Royal Commission of Inquiry can ascertain the truth of the matter.
This commission will:
a) ascertain the causes of the recent clashes;
b) bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice; and
c) identify the structural weaknesses in present poverty eradication
programmes in order to prevent future recurrence of such tragedy.
2) FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE AFFECTED FAMILIES
The victims are from the low-income group and some families have lost
their breadwinners. Therefore, immediate financial assistance, along
with free counselling services and rehabilitation programmes that would
overcome the trauma, must be extended to them.
3) IMMEDIATE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
New socio-economic development programmes must be planned and implemented
in consultation with local community leaders. These programmes should
be managed by an independent team without any direct political interference.
These programmes will aim to provide adequate housing, sanitation, community
centres, recreational facilities, public amenities and places of worship.
The poorest segments of the community-regardless of their ethnic background-should
be given further aid to own houses.
4) SPECIAL MULTI-ETHNIC POLICE TASK FORCE
The police was perceived to have acted sluggishly during the first
three days. Therefore, we believe only a special multi-ethnic police
task force will be suitable for handling Kampung Medan type of conflicts
that involve racial dimensions.
5) A NATIONAL TASK FORCE AGAINST DRUGS AND GANGSTERISM
The communities living in the affected areas have long been suffering
from drug and gangster related problems. These problems, however, are
not merely confined to the Kampung Medan area. Therefore, a national
task force that would take a holistic approach must be set up to resolve
these problems. Besides police action, the task force should aim to
find permanent solutions involving vocational training, creating employment
and business opportunities. There should be avenues for recreational,
religious and cultural activities.
6) RACE RELATIONS COMMISSION
Malaysians of all walks face racial discrimination and religious intolerance.
Taking Kampung Medan incident as a cue, a Race Relations Commission
be set up in order to eradicate all such unfair discrimination. The
Commission will have the power to investigate overt and institutional
racism, and to recommend possible remedies.
1.1) Between March 8 and March 12, 2001, six people, who were either
hacked or bludgeoned, died from a socio-economic centred racial strife.
Over 40 people have since been treated for serious injuries-some of
which were near fatal-in the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre. The majority
of these people, both killed and injured, were predominantly poor Indian
1.2) The conflict has created a climate of fear, anxiety and suspicion.
Many children in the affected areas are frightened to even enter their
school buses, fearing those buses might be burnt down. Many families
and their members in the affected areas, in particular, are traumatised.
1.3) The affected Indian Malaysians, and those who sympathise with
them, are very much disillusioned with government response.
2.0) An Analysis of the Incidents
A preliminary fact finding (refer to Appendix I and II) allows us to
make the following observations:
2.1) The attackers seem to be in the age range of 18 years - 28 years.
2.2) Generally, there were groups of youths armed with parangs, samurai
swords, spiked mace, iron rods and sticks roaming in the vicinity. Sometimes
they travelled on motorcycles. (We fail to understand how armed mobs
were able to move around in groups sometimes in broad daylight in a
security tight situation.)
2.3) The majority of the dead and injured are members of the poorer
section of the Indian Malaysian community.
2.4) In incidents outside the area in question, the victims were seem
to be identified and targeted. They were attacked in isolated areas.
3.0) Emotional and Institutional Deformities
3.1) It appears that the government is actively denying the racial
dimension. It seems to emotionally ask: "Racism in Malaysia? Hardly.
These incidents are just like any fights. They have nothing to do with
race." Perhaps the government is concerned about our nation's image;
about investor's confidence. But such emotional attachment to a distorted
reality is likely to prevent a comprehensive response to the problems
we are facing. Our nation needs to wake up to the problem of racism
in order to bring it into the open for discussion. Wishful thinking
will not save us from the present predicament.
3.2) The political parties and the government speak about many social
situations or events in racial terms while we are expected to be non-racial.
In addition, many things that are going on among Malaysians are seen
as problems associated with individual communities. This racial identification
of issues that are essentially the problems of citizens of this country,
seem to have maintained a layer of prejudice and distrust deep in our
psyche and unconscious or routine practices. Add all this to the present
moment in our nation's life -- the Malay unity talks, the Suqui episode,
the Damansara Chinese school controversy and now the ethnic clash near
Old Klang Road -- which have all contributed to the ethnic segmentation
of our world further. It's about time we look at issues from a national
3.3) During an ethnic conflict, it is reasonable to expect the media
to exercise great care and sensitivity in reporting the events. Unwittingly,
the excessive control, self-censorship and distortion have had other
consequences during the conflict. Firstly, a few victims ventured out
of their homes only after learning from the electronic media that the
situation in the area was normal; but they were attacked, and suffered
serious injuries. Secondly, excessive media control leads to the spread
of unhealthy rumours and speculations, which have the potential to worsen
3.4) A public order agency dominated by one ethnic group working in
a conflict situation within a multi-ethnic environment is not healthy.
It creates problems of loyalty, between being sincere to professional
conduct or to ethnic affiliation. What we probably need is a special
multi-ethnic task force or group with the power to lead in the management
of racial conflict situation swiftly and smoothly. Such a force also
brings about a more positive response from the victims who can feel
assured of support and care in a moment when their world loses any certainty.
This force must of course go through a very different sort of training.
3.5) The government's social policy is in a state of disarray. Pushing
its programme on privatisation, withdrawing from its re-distribution
role and thinking itself to be a corporation has only shifted the government
to suit the need of those in the upper sections of a pervasive system
of social/income inequality. Housing and provision of basic services
are of less concern particularly if it involves the poor and their locality.
Services do not come unless something drastic like deaths happens. Why?
Has the government implemented its policy on low-cost housing stringently?
Has it made attempts to engineer social environments in which people
from different ethnic groups can live peacefully?
3.6) The breakdown of the plantation economy, the migration of poor
Indian Malaysians from rural to urban poverty, residence at squatter
areas like the one involved in the recent ethnic conflict, lack of opportunities,
the socialisation into anti-social survival strategies are not purely
the making of the community. Why would any community want their young
to become gangsters? This country is neither sensitive to unhealthy
processes that are going on nor is it ready to take comprehensive action
to resolve the problems in the early stage. The Indians are facing a
problem with violent, aggressive youngsters who are very often gang
members. Having such an aggressive youth group in an absolutely cruel,
unfriendly, dilapidated multi-ethnic living environment brings the possibility
of racial conflict to the centre of the present national but careless
social agenda. The issue of Indian gangsterism is directly linked to
economic marginalisation and it can only be resolved by:
(a) increasing the educational and economic opportunities of youth;
(b) actively de-sensitising the youth to an aggressive anti-social culture
that has developed as a survival strategy.
Till recently, what has the government done but kept releasing statistics
about how many gangsters there are among the Indians.
4.0) Who is Responsible?
4.1) Given the situation as discussed above, the majority of the people
in this country and certainly most Indian Malaysians placed their lives
and their future in the care of the government. That is the basis of
a social contract. The people elect the government and the government
delivers goods, services, a peaceful environment and uplift the quality
of life and standard of living. This government has failed in providing
for and taking care of the poor Malaysians. This we believe is a violation
of the social contract and trust placed on the elected government.
4.2) The government has not over the years addressed the problem of
racism comprehensively. In fact such a denial provided the basis for
political survival. It continues to deny the problem while promoting
it in its actions and policies only further consolidating the racial
situation in this country. Further, it does not seem to make social
impact assessment of various events and their bearing on race relations
in this country.
4.3) We believe the Prime Minister of Malaysia had the power and authority
to decisively act to minimise the deaths of Malaysian citizens and reduce
the harm meted out to many who have survived the ordeal.
4.4) We hold the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the government responsible
for what happened in Kampung Medan and the surrounding areas off Old
The names and injuries of victims of the violence in Kampung Medan and
surrounding areas off Old Klang Road warded in the Universiti Malaya
Medical Centre were recorded by a six-member team representing a network
of NGOs for a Violence Free Community at noon on March 13, 2001.
They visited 24 people, including four who were in serious conditions.
The ethnic breakdown is 18 Indians, two Malays, one Chinese, one Indonesian,
one Bangladeshi and one Pakistani.
1) Kanan, a security guard, was assaulted in Kampung Medan when he
was returning home from work on March 9. He had head injuries, a fractured
leg and his kidney was bleeding.
2) Ramli, his head was swathed.
3) Nadeson Dass, aged 20, appeared confused and had injuries on his
4) Rajathurai was on drips and resuscitation machine.
5) Naharul Hisham, 20, was assaulted by two men when he was returning
home from work on a motorcycle near Mid-Valley at the Federal Highway
on March 11. He had injuries on his hands and his fingers were almost
6) Norhashihadi was returning to Kampung Medan after work when he was
attacked by 10 men on March 11. He has head injuries.
7) Sujari, an Indonesian contract worker, was attacked by six men in
Sungai Way on March 10.
8) Yong So Lin was attacked by three people in Sungai Way on March 10.
9) Sahjahan, a Bangladeshi factory worker, was eating in a shop in Sungai
Way when a man attacked him on March 11. He fell unconscious and has
injuries on his head and hands. He says an old man was also beaten up.
10) Kathirvelu had nose and head injuries.
11) Thinakaran had injuries on his hand and leg.
12) Parthiban, 19, came to deliver fruits with his employer in a lorry
when he was assaulted on March 10. He had stitches on the face and head.
13) Anbarasan had injuries on his legs, hands and ear.
14) Ramesan, a mute, was attacked in Kampung Medan on March 10. He had
injuries on his legs and hands.
15) Tamil Selvam had injuries on his abdomen and head.
16) Muthukumar, from Bidor, Perak, was delivering fruits when he and
his co-worker were attacked by youths below 25 years on March 10. He
had head injuries.
17) Anbalakan was assaulted by a few youths when he stopped at the traffic
lights near Kampung Datuk Harun on March 10. He was on his way to his
house in Sungai Buloh. He had leg injuries.
18) Subramaniam was going from Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur to his home
in Sri Sentosa when he was assaulted on March 12. He had injuries on
his head and back.
19) Suresh, 19, was assaulted by five people on March 8. He had injuries
on his head, legs and hand.
20) Illaiyaraja was admitted on March 10.
21) Bakhshish Elahi, a Pakistani, was assaulted together with his partner
in a lorry by about 100 youths with pipes, swords and parangs on March
10. He had injuries on his head, legs and hand.
22) Mathavan was assaulted by a gang of youths when he was returning
home on a motorcycle on March 9. He had a leg fracture and injuries
on his hands. His motorcycle was burnt.
23) Annadurai was carrying goods in his van when youths attacked him
near the Shell petrol station in Sri Manja (near Taman Medan) on March
9. He had injuries on his head and hands.
The interviews with the following victims were conducted by a group
of professionals with the aim to obtain the views of the victims on
the ninth floor of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre between 6pm and
8pm on March 15 and 16, 2001.
Case 1: According to a 26-year-old construction worker, he and his friend
were returning to their homes in Kampung Semarak off Old Klang Road
on a motorcycle after having dinner in a restaurant at 10.30pm on March
8 when they were attacked by about 50 armed youths. The youths, aged
22-23 years, were on motorcycles and a white Proton Iswara car. They
were carrying iron rods, wooden sticks and hockey sticks. The construction
worker's friend, who was the pillion rider, was hit by one of the youths.
The pillion rider jumped off the motorcycle and ran as fast as he could.
The worker says he rode on but the youths caught up with him and beat
him up with everything that they were carrying. They left the scene
after assaulting him. The man's right leg is broken and has bruises
on the body and both hands. He is certain his attackers were not from
there but outsiders. About 2.30am, he says he saw an ambulance passing
his way and threw stones at the ambulance to get the attention of the
driver because he was too weak to shout for help. The ambulance driver
and his partner then took him to the hospital. He now fears for the
safety of his mother and three sisters, as they are too frightened to
even go out to dry their laundry.
Case 2: On March 8 about 10.30pm, a 19-year-old college student from
Taman Medan was returning home on a motorcycle after buying some burgers.
The burger stall is situated about 100 yards from a T-junction near
Sekolah Menengah Datuk Harun. Earlier, as he was heading towards the
stall he saw a white Proton Wira police patrol car plying the same road
and felt that there was nothing to be unduly worried about. As he was
approaching the school, about five to six youths, aged 25-26 years,
obstructed his way and ordered him to stop. When he stopped, they asked
him about his ethnic origin. The student says the men immediately attacked
him when he identified himself with sharp instruments, wooden sticks
and a heavily spiked mace on his head, abdomen and hands. The student
says he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness in the school
grounds, he saw a policewoman and three policemen nearby. He says he
blacked out again and regained consciousness in the hospital. The student
has multiple slash wounds on the head and abdomen. He also has a deep
slash almost severing the wrist from the left hand. The student says
he has seen his attackers before in a neighbouring village but they
do not know each other.
Case 3: A Form 5 student from Kampung Gandhi was accompanying his elder
brother to park their van near their aunt's house in Taman Medan at
3 pm on March 10 when they were chased by about 100 men on motorcycles.
The men who were armed with samurai swords, wooden sticks and iron rods,
caught up with the two and assaulted them near their aunt's house that
was locked at that time. The student's injuries were not as severe as
his brother's was. His brother's hands were almost severed. At the time
of interview on March 15, the student's brother was unable to speak
coherently. The student says he has never seen his attackers before.
He is certain they are outsiders. He says he and his brother shouted
for help but none of the Indian or Malay neighbours came to their aid.
About 30 minutes later an ambulance arrived and took them to the hospital.
Case 4: Between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on March 10, a fruit seller employer
and his two assistants from Bidor, Perak, had delivered fruits to a
shop in Kampung Datuk Harun. According to the 31-year-old fruit seller,
as they were on their way out of the place in his lorry, he heard shouts.
Then a group of people knocked on the side of the window where the assistants
were sitting and asked them to get down from the lorry. The fruit seller
says the front and left glasses of the lorry were smashed. He says the
men who knocked on the side of the window pulled him to the right side
of the lorry and his assistants to the left. He says he was not assaulted
but his two assistants were. The fruit seller says he told the assailants
that the two were his workers. When he tried to help his workers, the
assailants showed parangs and short swords at him. He says he lodged
a police report after the injured workers were sent to the hospital
by the police.
Case 5: At 1.30pm on March 10, a 28-year-old road construction worker
left his house in Taman Medan to have lunch in Medan Sunway after being
reassured by the news over radio that the situation in the neighbourhood
is normal. As he was cycling towards Sekolah Menengah Dato Harun he
saw a motorcyclist who had an angry look riding in the opposite direction.
The worker says the motorcyclist turned back, came from behind and hit
him across his face with a long piece of wood and rode off. He says
his nose was broken and bleeding. The worker says the motorcyclist was
about to return and assault him further when a policeman who was passing
by on a motorcycle witnessed the incident. The policeman went to the
worker's rescue and the assailant fled the scene. The worker says the
policeman took him to a public booth and telephoned for a patrol car.
While he was waiting about 10-20 villagers came to him and expressed
sympathy. One gentleman, about 70, offered to keep the victim's bicycle
safely in his compound till he is well to ride again. Soon the police
patrol car arrived and took the victim to the hospital.
Case 6: At 9pm on March 13, a lorry driver and a factory supervisor
had just stepped out of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple compound in Puchong
after switching off the lights. They had walked a short distance when
suddenly two men sprang up from behind a parked lorry with parangs and
attacked them. The neighbours came to the victims' help after hearing
their cries for help. The assailants fled. The lorry driver identifies
the two assailants as small built and between 25 and 28 years. The supervisor's
four fingers on the right hand were nearly severed and have been reattached.
He also has two slash wounds across his shoulders. He says he has no
police record and has never been involved in any gang fights. The lorry
driver's fingers in the left hand were almost severed. He also has a
slash wound at the back of the head.
List of organisations endorsing the memorandum:
1) Child Development Initiative
2) Civil Rights Committee (Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)
3) Community Development Centre (CDC)
4) Education and Research Association for Consumers (ERA Consumer)
5) Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA)
6) Ideal Times
7) Inisiatif Manifesto Rakyat (PMI)
8) Institut Kajian Dasar
9) Malaysia Democratic Student and Youth Movement (DEMA)
10) National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (Persatuan HAKAM)
11) Pahang Association of Consumers (PAC)
12) Persatuan Sivik India Malaysia
13) Pertubuhan Tamil Antarabangsa
14) Persatuan Tamil Neri Malaysia
15) Persatuan Bell Belia Tamil (Kajang)
16) Persatuan Hindu Malaysia (Sentul)
17) Malaysian Indian Youth Council
18) Persatuan Dravidian Malaysia
19) Hindu Youth Organisation (Port Klang)
20) Hindu Sevai Sangam
21) Koperasi Kredit Pekerja
22) Indian Youth Cultural Centre
23) Persatuan Penduduk Prima Selayang
24) Persatuan Belia Graduan WP dan Selangor
25) U Bangsar Utama
26) New Vision Studio
28) Penang Protection of Consumers Association (PPCA)
29) Klang Consumers Association (KCA)
30) Selangor Consumers Associaton (SCA)
31) Workers Organisation
32) People's Service Organisations (PSO)
33) Perak Consumers Association (PCA)
34) Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan Permas
35) Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
36) Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
37) Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
38) Semparuthi Iyakkam
39) Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
40) Tamil Support Group for Human Rights
42) Tholilaliyin Tholar (Sahabat Perkerja/Friends of Workers)
43) Women Aid Organisation (WAO)
44) Women Candidate Initiative (WCI)
45) Malaysian Chinese Organisers Election Appeal Committee (Suqui)
46) Koperasi Kredit Rakyat
47) Red Rose Youth Centre
48) Persatuan Siswazah Lihua Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan
49) Lembaga Sekolah Cina Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan
50) United Chinese Schools Committee Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong)
51) United Chinese School Teachers Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong)