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Kugan: Making Sense of Kugan's Death

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 03 @ 02:50:44 CST

Socialby M. Nadarajah, Feb 03 2009
The death of Kugan has alarmed Malaysians. But why should we be concerned about the death of such persons as Kugan? Isn't this person a common criminal? A low life? The s***** of Malaysian society? A lumpen element? A popular representation of the Indian/Tamil community? He was someone who must have been a major problem and headache for many car owners. So why are we so bothered?

As the images of Kugan's lifeless body are webcasted, we begin to see something beyond the death of a criminal. Those images touch the core of our being. They naggingly summon and question us. Kugan as criminal has disappeared. In death, Kugan is now directing our attention to a sickening nature of our society.
There is something about his death that offends our humanity. It takes us back to the lawless, brutal past and conflates us with the mob of the most savage amongst humans and the ghastly acts they have committed. We have been pushed into their company. The body of Kugan is the canvas on which that message is written, boldly, loudly and in red.
March 8th opened the possibility of creating a New Caring Malaysia. But it seems to have also strengthened its opposite, a Lawless Cruel Fractured Malaysia. It is a dark reality that lurks in our midst; it kills human rights, dishonours democracy and harms our future together as a people and as equals. It is a reality sustained without any conscience.
In one unconscionable act, all our political and social idealism, all our religious teachings and values, and all our spiritual moorings have been crippled.
To move on as a people, we have now all been summoned to this one point – the body of Kugan and the bloody brutal "writings" on it. Conscious or unconscious of this, to move on, this nation has to now "symbolically" walk over and across the dead body of Kugan. What morality has brought us this low?
Is there some hidden code in all these brutalities inscribed on the bodies of members of the Indian/Tamil Malaysian community? It seems like a national collective is bent on inscribing messages of pain and death on the collective body of Indian/Tamil community periodically. But why? To seek
revenge for situations significantly influenced by the community, which contributed to change in national politics? To teach the community a lesson by going beyond the law to hurt its vulnerable members (many of whom are already adversely affected by the generational impact of national policies, institutions and structures that have marginalised them)? Keeping alive an age-old dislike? To convey a warning message "We are still in control, whatever it takes" to the community? To harshly drill into the psyche of the community, and others in the national society, fear?
There is a dark history of suffering and death such as the one that Kugan faced, a fate faced by many Malaysians which goes beyond acceptable administration of democratic criminal justice.  It seems like the unfolding of national hate distributed sporadically and in retail installments, across time and geographical space, so that it is seen, recorded and forgotten as stray incidents and not one driven by calculation and design. Is that really so?
Whatever that may happen now, whatever the remedy, the trust in officialdom is only further eroded. On what basis will the Indian/Tamil Malaysian community/citizens really go on to trust this nation?
Dr. M. Nadarajah is a sociologist by training.



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