Monday, April 26, 2010

A Pakatan-Hindraf pact is imperative - Malaysiakini

COMMENT With Indian votes showing signs of drifting back to Barisan Nasional, it becomes more imperative than before for Pakatan Rakyat to work out an accommodation with Hindraf, the group responsible for detaching Indian voter support for the BN at the last general election.

A heavy defeat for Pakatan in the by-election for the Bagan Pinang state seat in Negri Sembilan last October was an indication that Indian voters could be induced to return to BN.

A complete analysis of voting patterns in yesterday's poll for the Hulu Selangor seat is yet to be done, but it's already safe to say that what Bagan Pinang semaphored Hulu Selangor has reinforced – the Indian vote, in the estates especially, is drifting back to BN.

NONEWhat with a settlement of the long festering Maika Holdings issue in the offing, the return of the Indian rural vote, a reliable bloc since independence for the ruling coalition, to its allegiance of old appears certain to happen.

PKR ought to lead Pakatan in going some distance in preventing this.

Last November, Zaid Ibrahim, in the process of collating the Common Policy Framework for Pakatan, met up with P Waythamoorthy of Hindraf in Singapore to come to grips with the basic demands of the group.

An informal understanding was reached but this has been blurred by the continued stridency of Waythamoorthy's elder brother, P Uthayakumar, whose derogatory sniping at all and sundry for supposed failure to make good on promises to the Indian community makes it almost impossible to induce him to become a partner in the delicate negotiations that an accommodation would entail.

This is a vexed matter, made so by the unilateralism of Uthayakumar and the perception among Pakatan leaders that the man is unappeasable.

Certainly, it doesn't help that Uthayakumar plans to contest in the next general election in the Prai state seat and in the Batu Kawan parliamentary one in Penang under the emblem of the Human Rights Party which is his creation.

Both seats have a significant Indian voter presence, enough to give Uthayakumar's quixotic quest a tincture of realism.

Emerging sodality

Of course, there are some like the victorious candidate in the Hulu Selangor poll, P Kamalanathan, who claim that Hindraf is a one-election wonder and that its influence has waned.

This is conjecture. Even if Kamalanathan succeeded in outpolling Zaid Ibrahim among Indian voters in Hulu Selangor it won't validate this theory.

indian crowd malaysia 
291107The issues that are sources of discontent among Indians – their general poverty and lack of economic opportunity – are not peculiar to them alone; the Dayaks of Sarawak and the Kadazan of Sabah are similarly placed.

In fact recent attempts at a sodality of the discontented, taken to include – together with the Indians, Dayaks and Kadazan – the Orang Asli, under the rubric of a 'third force', has gained credence.

Prescient manoeuvring by Pakatan can bring this emerging sodality to coalesce under its wing and strengthen its claim to be a credible political vehicle for the fulfillment of the legitimate aspirations of the poor in Malaysia.

There is time yet before the next general election, which is anticipated for the middle of next year, to induce Uthayakumar to abandon his general election plans and work out an accommodation with Hindraf.

After having witnessed the way the Indian poor voted in the Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor by-elections, it would be unwise for PKR, and the coalition it leads, Pakatan, to do nothing to forestall the drift back of the Indian voter to BN.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.