“The recent arrest of three top Sri Lankan Tamil members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Malaysia on the charge that they were collecting funds and doing propaganda to revive the LTTE ‘internationally,’ has also brought into focus a growing tendency among Malaysian Tamils to get swayed by the militant and separatist ideology of the LTTE as part of a general lurch towards ethno-religious nationalism.
The Malaysian Tamils’ pan-Tamil sentiment and their endorsement of the LTTE line, appear to stem from the social, religious and economic conditions in Malaysia. Tamils, who constitute 81% of the Malaysian Indian community, are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Quintessentially, the Tamils who are 8% of Malaysia’s population, are the hewers of wood and drawers of water. Malaysia has been growing economically, but the Tamils have been left behind.
Since the Tamils constitute the bulk of the Indian community in Malaysia, statistics for the ‘Indian’ population are basically those of the Tamils. Therefore, in this piece, the term ‘Indian’ used in the media, and official statistics, will be deemed to be equivalent to ‘Tamil’.”