Ill-treatment of Indians in Malaysia

Published : Apr 11, 2003 00:00 IST

ALL is not well for Indian professionals in parts of South East Asia. A case in point is the manner in which Malaysian authorities were reported to have ill-treated nearly 300 Indian citizens in Kuala Lumpur on March 9. Most of them, whom the security agencies appeared to have `interrogated' in a transparently uncivilised manner, were niche-ranking information technology (IT) professionals, whose expertise that country had sought. Ostensibly, the Malaysian officials were looking for "illegal immigrants"; the Indians possessed valid documents for residence.

India, put Kuala Lumpur on notice about the danger that such episodes might affect bilateral ties. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi articulated his country's regret over the incident and acknowledged that there might have been some high-handed and unwarranted action by law-enforcement officials. The Malaysian government's refrain, however, is that Indian nationals were not specifically targeted because of their nationality. Malaysia has not yet explained the full facts of the case. Kuala Lumpur still insists that punishment would be meted out to its officials only after their guilt is established.

The incident came in the wake of the detention and harassment last December of two top executives of Polaris Software, a Chennai-based firm, by the Indonesian authorities for a number of days. The Indonesian officials did not take recourse to stipulated legal remedies for a commercial dispute, which was ostensibly the reason for their incarceration.

While the Indian government actively engaged Indonesia over the Polaris issue, New Delhi is contemplating a suitable message to Malaysia with a definitive political and economic connotation or consequence.

P. S. Suryanarayana
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