We all know that non Malays in Malaysia, especially Malaysian Indians don’t get level playing field in all life augmenting fields especially in public tertiary education opportunities. We have become accustomed to this institutionalized racism and discrimination and accepted it as an inseparable part of life on this blessed land which our forefathers played a leading and prominent role in transforming whole forests into cities and agricultural land.
Our contribution as well as the other non Malays’ contribution in making Malaysia liveable is being systematically expunged from our school history textbooks. And, now, our current accomplishments are played down too just because we are Indians and not Bumiputera or Muslim as well as our political affiliation. Magendran and Mohanadas are the first Malaysians to conquer the highest peak in the world. Few current generation Y Malaysians KNOW THIS FOR A FACT. Why? Try Googling First Malaysian who reached Everest peak (since many Malaysian of youngsters in their 20s now have no idea who Magendran and Moganadas are) and you will find M Moorthy @ Mohammad Abdullah as the first hit. He was part of the ten-men team who attempted the climb. He was born and raised Hindu but converted to Islam later in life. Despite not being one of the two who planted the Jalur Gemilang atop Mt Everest, his name comes up first when you Google in pertinence with the feat. Magendran and Mohanadas, the true recipients of the acclaim are not mentioned at all. You have to GOOGLE their NAMES in order to learn of their unprecedented feat, not by typing, ‘first Malaysian who reached Everest’s summit.’ If you type ‘first Malaysian to climb Mt Everest in Google search bar, the below is what you get:
The feat of Mahendran and Mohandass seems to have been spurned due to their race and religion (Hindu) don’t augur well with the Malaysian PM at that time, our 4th PM, Tun Mahathir Mohammad who also coined the caption Malaysia Boleh which is on par with our current PM’s slogan for Malaysia, 1Malaysia. But, neither the Malaysia Boleh nor 1Malaysia spirit can be felt by the minorities in Malaysia, especially Indians.
I quote DAP Chairman Lim Kit Siang which was made in 2003, when Tun Dr Mahathir decisively announced his upcoming resignation:
I call on Mahathir, before he steps down as Prime Minister after 22 years in office at the end of next month, to ensure that the two Malaysians who first planted the Jalur Gemilang on Mount Everest in 1997, M. Magendran and N. Mohandas are given their long-overdue proper recognition by the government and nation as all fair-minded Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, are agreed that both of them had not been given a fair deal by the government and society as compared to other Malaysian “bolehnauts”.
Here’s how the progress of Team Mission Everest 1997 got systematically downplayed as Malaysians of Indian descent made their tortuous ascend up the tallest point on Earth:
- The team which made the final attempt comprised Magendran, Mohanadas, Mohd Fauzan Hassan, and Gary Choong Kin Wah.
- Hassan and Choong succumbed to altitude sickness and turned back after reaching 8,400 meters.
- Coverage slowed. Stories were buried instead of making it to the front page.
- When Magendran and Mohanadas made it to the top, a certain Malay-language daily that I don’t have to name refused point-blank to run the story. Why? Because despite climbing effing Mount Everest, Magendran and Mohanadas were still Malaysian-Indian, tacitly, second class citizens.
- Other newsrooms ran the story small. An extremely popular English daily didn’t run it on the front page.
At long last, the state government of Penang, under the tutelage of Penang CM, Lim Guan Eng, conferred datukship for both Magendran and Mohanadas in 2010, 14 years after they accomplished the grueling, precarious feat and they were given federal datukship the following year. But, Azhar Mansor, the first Malaysian who circled the globe solo in a yacht was immediately granted datukship upon return but it took 14 years and a change in government to give the recognition both Malaysian heroes who conquered Mt Everest deserve for reasons that are no longer secret. Long over due indeed..
In the Malaysian Book of Records though, both Magendran and Mohandas are hailed as the first Malaysians who conquered Mt Everest. But, see what our school textbook has to say about the first Malaysians who made it to Mt Everest’s highest point:
The true recipients of the glory of the first Malaysians who conquered Mt Everest are being denied mention to our Malaysian youngsters just because they don’t belong to a ‘certain’ race and religion. Already most youngsters have no idea who is Sybil Kathigesu and her defiance of Japanese occupiers in Malaya. She is the only Malayan woman to be ever awarded with the George Medal for bravery. This contribution of Mrs Kathigesu is maliciously omitted out of History school textbooks and if we don’t create a tumult, Magendran and Mohandas will suffer the same fate in time.
Quoting George Orwell:
Those who control the past controls the future. Those who control the present controls the past.
Other high achieving Malaysians of Indian descent who are eschewed besides the Mt Everest conquerors
Besides Magendran and Mohandas’ Mt Everest feat, Ambiga Sreenivasan, who received the US International Women of Courage award from US state secretary, Hillary Clinton in 2009 was kept low profile by the Malaysian mainstream media. And, how many of us know that the youngest Malaysian ever to be conferred datukship is a Malaysian of Indian descent? He is Datuk Vinod Sekhar – he was only 26 when he was given the datuk title and he is one of the most successful, underrated and humble man Malaysia has ever seen.
But, Malaysia, or precisely, the Malaccan state government prides itself in giving datukship to an Indian national who contributed next to nothing to Malaysia. He is none other than Datuk Shah Rukh Khan. Well, anak di rumah dibiar kelaparan, kera di hutan disusukan.
I can’t understand the logic on why an Indian from India whose profession is actor in India is given datukship when there are many deserving Malaysians of Indian descent like Magendran and Mohandas. Is it because of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham and Don? There are many Malaysians of Indian descent in NASA. Does Shah Rukh Khan deserve more recognition than those high achievers whose blood spilled on this land at birth, those who sang Negaraku and recited Rukun Negara with all the voice they could muster every school assembly? Why this discrimination? Why this case of dianak-tirikan? Where is the spirit of Malaysia Boleh and 1Malaysia? It’s obvious now that those slogans, coined by different Malaysian prime ministers are mere propaganda, a rememberance mark of their career; Nothing more, nothing less.
This welcoming phrase in KLIA by the chief stewardess is indeed beckoning and comforting, “Kepada warganegara Malaysia, selamat pulang ke tanahair” “To fellow Malaysians, welcome home.” Sadly, KLIA is perhaps the only place in Malaysia where you are known as Malaysian and not Chinese or Indian. I am sure that was how Magendran and Mohandas felt for 14 long years!