Shanmugavalli Rajagopal, 43, is one determined woman. Retrenched as a rubber tapper in July, she has been asked to vacate her plantation house. But she isn’t budging. “If we clap with one hand, there is no sound,” she says, motioning with one hand. “But if we all work together, we can achieve something.” Just a year ago, such fighting words would probably not have spilled out of Shanmugavalli’s mouth. For decades, Malaysia’s 300,000 rubber plantation workers have toiled silently under exploitative conditions. In exchange for meagre wages, they laboured hard and provided a solid foundation to the economy while fuelling the spectacular profits of the plantation firms.