Malaysia is home of a numerous and influential Tamil community. Much of the Indian part of the population comes from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
The LTTE was quite active in the South East, especially Singapore and Kuala Lumpur precisely for this friendly support. Still today the Tamil community is extremely vocal in bringing justice to the war crimes committed in 2009. In Malaysia there are several members of parliament, activists, businessmen passionate for the cause. Some results of this lobbying can be seen in the Malaysian attempts to look into the case1.
The Tamil community in Kuala Lumpur is very active in promoting events, conference and meeting to mobilize and to sensitize public opinion and government. Their effort aims to insert in the regional agenda this subject.
So far Malaysia has been quite reluctant to take a stance. But the ruling party will face elections soon and there is no better way to captivate the strategical Indian vote, than pleasing this community with a strong campaign in favour of justice and accountability.
But Sri Lanka started to court Petronas2. Colombo invited the Malaysian company to explore the Mannar Basin where oil has been found by the Indian company Cairn in 20113.
Executives from Petronas showed interest in the proposal and it seems they are ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for further activity4.
If it will be proved that Sri Lanka has commercially viable oil reserves, what will it be the position of Tamils in Malaysia? All their activity could simply vanish like snow in the sun. This could be a test for the capability of the Tamil community to engage the public.
If they act promptly they still have some chances to address in their favour Malaysian business policy. But if they wait until the deal is sealed, it is very unlikely that negotiations will be re-opened.
Probably the intervention of the Tamil diaspora is driven almost entirely by ideology and it can become self-referential and limited in its action to the community itself. More attention to the business and economic decisions surrounding the cause would be helpful in shaping public opinion in relevant matters.