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Malaysian politics threaten to overshadow PBD

January 09, 2008

Vicky Nanjappa and Krishnakumar in New Delhi
The crowd was not as big as the previous years. The inauguration function did not have any major announcements. The prime minister failed to touch a chord. People shunned the seminars. The sixth annual Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas looked very much a non-starter.

Then, the Malaysian-Indians came. The ugly side of Malaysian politics spilled over to the sidelines of the PBD and later threatened to overshadow the event when a news agency reported that the Malaysian government had announced a ban on Indian workers in that country.

Unrest has been brewing in Malaysia, with ethnic Indians in that country taking to the streets in protest against their alleged marginalisation. The leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress and the only representative of the ethnic Indians in the government Malaysian Minister for Works Samy Vellu had taken up their case. In what was seen as a minor victory for the ethnic Indians, the Malaysian government had promised the community that no temple will be demolished without Vellu checking the facts first.

So, it was in this atmosphere of uneasy calm that Vellu attended the event. He was easily the most sought after man with the journalists. He was trying to impress upon the journalists and the gathering in whichever plenary he spoke that all was fine back home.

Image: Malaysian Minister of Works S Samy Vellu at the Investment & Infrastructure session during the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2008 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.

Photograph: PTI photos

Also read: Pravasi Divas remembers NRI freedom-fighters

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