Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hindraf still a force for Indians, says Waytha - Malaysiakini

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) became a household name in Malaysian socio-political activism when it organised a mammoth rally in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Tens of thousands took part in the rally on Nov 25, 2007, which turned out to be biggest street protest by Malaysian Indians to demand for their rights.

The rally was a watershed moment for Indians in Malaysia. It changed the mindset of the ethnic Indian minority community in the country.

It shattered the community's hiterto, undivided loyalty and allegiance to the Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional coalition.

The arrests of P Uthayakumar, T Vasanthakumar and M Manoharan, V Ganabatirau and R Kengadharan under the Internal Security Act further alienated the community from the ruling coalition.

The Hindraf rally was instrumental in triggering the political tsunami of March 8, 2008 that dramatically changed the Malaysian political landscape.

Despite the Umno-led federal government's relentless efforts to break up Hindraf, the movement survived the turbulent period and is still going strong.

The current Kampung Buah Pala 'High Chaparral' crisis is testimony to Hindraf's resilience, relevance and prominence among Indians in the country.

Hindraf still calling the shots

The movement is perceived as the only Indian-based human rights group capable of standing up to the injustices meted out on the community. The government banned the movement in October last year, and its leaders detained without trial in Kamunting in late 2007.

How did Hindraf manged to stay relevant and continue to call the shots in the Malaysian socio-political scene?

It can be attributed to one man, P Waythamoorthy (above), the Hindraf chairperson who is under political asylum in London.

Waythamoorthy left the country on Nov 28, three days after the Nov 25 rally, first to India then to London.

His Malaysian passport was revoked by the Putrajaya administration in April 2008.

Contrary to rumours, Waythamoorthy is living a simple lifestyle and is dependent on financial support from his wife and contributions from well wishers in Malaysia and London

His cubical-sized rented room in London's suburbs is not one not to envied. He uses London's efficient rail transport service to travel and goes for the cheapest meals available at fast food outlets.

Waythamoorthy recently underwent surgeries for a peculiar heart condition.

He has recovered remarkably and is determined to continue his fight for the rights of Indians and the downtrodden back home.