Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hindraf alleges Pakatan double standard in Tanjung Tokong - Malaysiakini

Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Front) in New York has come forward over the Aidil Fitri festive cheer period to welcome Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's pledge on Tanjung Tokong in Penang which is being touted as having heritage village status.

But the opposition leader should also be taken to task for his "chameleon-like stance" on the tragedy which befell Kampung Buah Pala in recent days, says the human and equal rights movement which groups together 30 Indian-based NGOs in Malaysia.

NONEAnwar has long been accused by the ruling Barisan Nasional, Umno in particular, of being a political chameleon.

"Why is that the state government suddenly seems to have power to resolve the issue of Tanjung Tokong but not Kampung Buah Pala?" asks Hindraf's International Coordinator, R Shan, in an exclusive email to Malaysiakini from the Big Apple.

"Anwar has been silent on the issue of Kampung Buah Pala. He failed to take a stand on behalf of the residents there."

Shan noted that Anwar had rightly stressed that land is a state matter and urged the residents and UDA (Urban Development Authority) to meet and discuss to settle amicably the issues of compensation, resettlement and preservation of the heritage value of Tanjung Tokong.

"In the case of Kampung Buah Pala, this approach was not taken and in fact brute force was employed," alleged Shan.

"The state government seemed to be powerless in the face of the developer, the police and the court. All it could do was to keep putting all the blame on the previous Gerakan-led state government while challenging the MIC."

Spin story goes out of control

"The Penang Deputy Chief Minister 2, P Ramasamy, even led a group to Kuala Lumpur to demonstrate in front of the MIC Headquarters just to side-track from the Kampung Buah Pala issue."

NONEHindraf pledged that it would hold a watching brief on Tanjung Tokong to see whether the residents there are bound by the dangerous precedent set by the Kampung Buah Pala fiasco.

And if not, it wants to know why double standards are being practiced?

However, it stressed at the same time that it did not want to see the people of Tanjung Tokong being taken for a ride by the state government as in the case of Kampung Buah Pala.

That Hindraf statement says that although the sale of the land in Kampung Buah Pala was initiated by the previous government in Penang, the Pakatan Rakyat government could have stopped the process at any time.

Instead, it continued to point fingers at the previous government at every step of the way as it spun the story out of control, Hindraf said.

Even the threat to cancel the approvals for the proposed condominium project did not materialise and in the end proved to be "a lot of hot air".

The movement also wants "the real history of Kampung Buah Pala", to be a matter of public record and "that there is a moral dimension to the sorry episode."

The fact remains, according to the movement, that the original British family which owned the land had decreed that it be held in trust by the government for its inhabitants and their descendents.

This, the government failed to do, and instead claimed it was state land and subsequently proceeded to sell it.

'Tantamount to theft'

In effect, it was tantamount to theft of the people's land, said Hindraf.

"The people fought bravely to save Kampung Buah Pala but their cause was hopeless after the state government declared that the condominium project could attract tourists," said Hindraf.

"How could an ugly project like a condominium attract tourists? As if tourists have never seen a condominium before and are coming all the way to Penang to gawk at the condominium on the Kampung Buah Pala land?"

NONEIn view of Tanjung Tokong, the Hindraf chief in New York wants Anwar to explain himself once and for all on the matter of Kampung Buah Pala and does not consider it a closed chapter.

Secondly, he wants him to give a categorical assurance that the Indian community matters to the Pakatan Rakyat and not just their votes during election time.

And finally, Hindraf wants to know how Pakatan Rakyat will redeem itself in the eyes of the Indian voters with Kampung Buah Pala hanging over its head.

"Anwar should bear in mind that thousands of Indians and other Malaysians risked their lives and poured onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur in late 2007 to press for their just and legitimate aspirations," said Shan.

"We urged the Indian electorate and all Malaysians to support Pakatan Rakyat last year when the Opposition Alliance solemnly promised that it would struggle for all Malaysians."

Hindraf report on Buah Pala

It now looks like that Anwar and Pakatan merely rode into public office on the makkal sakthi (people power) wave unleashed by Hindraf, according to Shan, "and had no intentions to consider the legitimate aspirations of the Indian community or others except themselves".

NONEHindraf, although never registered, was outlawed by the Malaysian government reportedly after a newspaper in Singapore claimed, without citing any evidence, that it had links with the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam.

Four Hindraf lawyers and a co-coordinator were also held under the Internal Security Act, allegedly as a result of the Singapore report, and released recently after several years in detention without trial.

Hindraf is now based in London and also has offices in India, Australia and New York, among other places.

Its main work is to release the Malaysian Indian Human Rights Annual Report every year. Kampung Buah Pala is expected to feature prominently in this year's report.