Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Article - Is Hindraf overreaching itself ?


There has been some suggestions that Hindraf has been overreaching itself. Hindraf is an outlawed organization. Its leaders are detained or are out of the country. Their mouths have been gagged, their hands are tied. And they are overreaching?

Hindraf, though they get their support from the Indians, have not only served the Indian cause but have been instrumental in raising many issues of national significance. Issue which had been festering and been in the making for a long time, only to be precipitated by Hindraf. Will anyone deny that?

The most significant of the issues raised is the issue of the continuing violations of the Malaysian Federal Constitution by the UMNO led government for the last fifty some years. This certainly is an issue of total significance to the people of this country regardless of race, religion or colour. Hindraf continues to be instrumental in raising fundamental issues significant to all of our nation. Yes, they get there by asking the hard questions. These questions are framed in the context of the Indian problem.

Problems and issues in our society will always show themselves up in specifics. But the causes are most often not specific to particular issues, they very often are general to a host of other issues . So, when Hindraf picks up an issue that affects the Indians in the country and raises them, they are also raising issues which are truly national in essence because the causes of these problems are general to a host of problems faced by the other races as well.

Take the case of the Bukit Selambau by elections. As someone said, even if the candidate were a cow, they would vote for it. Be that as it may. The issue being raised is not the cow that was chosen, but HOW that cow was chosen. When the decision making process within PKR is not democratic and the voice of the people are ignored because of some powerful individual within the party, we can see cronyism creeping back. Now, we believe that is an issue of National Significance. Is cronyism in a party that is at the leading edge a parochial issue or is it an issue of National significance. This issue of cronyism is coming up in a seat to be contested by an Indian candidate there. So, it takes on an Indian form. Very easy to pass of as the same old nonsense whenever it comes to these ungrateful Indians. Think again. Cronyism is what got the country in the mess in the first place.. So, now because it is happening in the PKR , we have to accept it?. It is spilling out because you cannot keep things closed in a multiethnic party environment.

We are all putting our eggs in the Pakatan basket. They tell us no more of the nonsense of the past 50 years. Will it get us all, what we are seeking? This is the fundamental issue being raised here. Yes, we are told, give it to the wisdom of the supreme leader, Anwar, he knows what is best.

OK, but will we get what we seek.

Take another example. Again set in the context of the Indian problem.
74 percent of the Indians (1,295,775 out of a total population of all races of 23,135,685 – year 2000 census) live in the 5 states and the Federal Territory of KL. The 5 states are controlled by the Pakatan Government. There are critical problems faced by a large section of the Indian community as everyone acknowledges – problems largely relating to marginalization and deprivation – problems of crime, unemployment, faltering education system, high suicide rates, inadequate urban housing, increasing incidence of single mothers and threatened places of worship to name a few critical ones.

Let me ask a few questions pertaining to these issues:
1) Do the State governments not have any jurisdiction at all over these issues
2) What is the policy position of the Pakatan State Governements to the Indian marginalization problem after one year in power.

The moment I lay these questions out in the Indian context there will be many who will be quick to point out that there are poor among all the other races in the country.They also face similar problems. Undeniably so. In effect therefore, raising the issues of poverty and marginalization in its Indian form also touches on the issues of poverty and marginalization among all the other races in the country .This is my earlier point that the issues raised by Hindraf though Indian in form really relates to all other races as well and therefore is national in essence.

Another objection that will be raised will be that the State Governments do not have much authority to address these issues. I disagree strongly on this matter. The State Governments do have, within their limited resources, many avenues to address these problems. That is if these issues are considered important enough for them. If there is a political will there are many things that can be done. If the party in power is truly there to promote the interests of all those that they purport to represent, they will be able to find the resources needed to address the issues. This is the substance of political will.

Let me suggest a few things they can do even with the limited resources that they possess:

1) Knowing that primary education is Primary, the State Governments in all these states can draw up a comprehensive plan of allocating land to all the Primary schools in the state that are not on their own land or are in very confined spaces. This is well within the authority of the Pakatan Governments. They can prepare the way for a revamp of the Primary School system for the marginalized Indians.
2) They can begin setting up appropriate Citizens groups (NGOs) to begin understanding the many social issues that invariably exist within marginalized groups to determine what needs to be done and then to draw up plans to address them . They can fund and resource these groups with this express purpose.
3) There are significant issues of citizenship documentation within large numbers of this marginalized groups. Resources can be applied to locate and to resolve the problems. The marginalized people are simply overwhelmed by the insensitive bureaucaracy and their mindless procedures.
4) Attempt can be made to improve urban housing for those in dire need of assistance. The NGOs can be assigned to identify and work with the respective Government Administrative units to appropriately allocate to those in true need.
5) Small business help can be provided to create employment opportunities for the poor and marginalized. These could include training programs in the conduct of business. Again NGO assistance can be used.
6) Training programs to develop employable skills can be initiated for the 18 – 25 group as special programs for the groups at risk.

If the State governments are not pursuing these as part of a clear agenda in substance, then we have to conclude that there is no political will to promote the interests of the people and that they are only interested in winning the next election/s. . Then how do we understand ”the wisdom of the supreme leader, Anwar, he knows what is best. “ Is all of what is promised then mere illusions and it is back to Cronyism Part 2. Where is the delivery.

It is this again that is being raised, that promises made are not being fulfilled.Now, is this an Indian question or is this a National question. Be patient , look at the big picture, time and again the people are told. All of this crap should be cut out and action should be initiated to begin walking the talk. The skepticism will take care of itself automatically. Then we can trust the wisdom of the supreme leader . But where is the delivery.

In raising all this, and in this manner is Hindraf overreaching? Is it parochial and insensitive to the needs of any our brothers and sisters of other races in the country. Hindraf serves the whole of the nation with the ability to ask hard questions, no matter which side and to be a check and balance to the processes of governance in our country.

So, is Hindraf overreaching?