Minority ethnic Indians are fighting a "losing battle" for equal rights in Malaysia, and their fledgling protest movement against the Muslim-dominated government is likely to die soon, an exiled protest leader said.
Ultimately, only the government -- not the people -- can bring about real change by giving concessions to ethnic Indians, said P. Waytha Moorthy, the chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force group that is leading the Indian movement.
"We are fighting a losing battle, we know We try our level best but if we don't succeed, we have to call it a day, isn't it?" Moorthy said in the interview this week in the London suburb of Hounslow, where he is living with friends.
"We have to close the chapter. There may be a new chapter, but we may not be part of the next chapter," a tired-looking Moorthy said during the chat at a McDonald's restaurant. "I know, eventually we will also fail."
Ethnic Indians form about 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, and complain that the government denies them opportunities in jobs, education and business. They say that years of systematic repression have kept them at the bottom of the society. The government denies this and says all Malaysians have benefited from the spectacular progress of the export-driven economy since independence in 1957.
"We want the minority Indians to be given their basic rights If they can give us two or three [real concessions], we are willing to keep our mouth shut I don't look at myself as a sacrificer," Moorthy said.
"That's what I don't understand why isn't the government conceding? We are not asking for super rights, we are asking for basic rights," he said.
Ethnic Indians, most of them descendants of 19th century plantation workers from southern India, also accuse the government of turning a blind eye to the destruction by local civic authorities of Hindu temples.
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