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Tamils and the Haunting of JusticeHistory and Recognition in Malaysia's Plantations$
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Andrew C. Willford

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838942

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838942.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Tamils and the Haunting of Justice

Andrew C. Willford

S. Nagarajan

University of Hawai'i Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of the struggles faced by plantation workers in Malaysia, considering the frustrations and fears that descended upon the Tamil population as a result of a particular kind of developmentalism. The plantation industry, formerly the primary employer of Tamils in Malaysia, has restructured in ways that have negatively impacted the Tamil communities. Tamil laborers, and the entire communities they belonged to, were retrenched and displaced as plantations were either converted into more lucrative land developments or increasingly mechanized. Indeed, foreign workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh have been brought in to replace Tamil workers to cut labor costs. Ultimately, it is in the combination of demographic transformations and the political and economic marginalization of Tamils that accompanied them, coupled with the apparently amnesiac hostility with which Malays in the newly created townships show to older Hindu presences there, that draws the ire of the Tamil community.

Keywords:   plantation workers, Tamil population, developmentalism, Tamil communities, Tamil laborers, demographic transformations, marginalization, plantation industry, Malaysia, Tamil Hindus

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