GEORGET TOWN: In the aftermath of the Hulu Selangor by-election and the many views expressed, Hindraf campaigners see the single most pertinent fact…
GEORGET TOWN: In the aftermath of the Hulu Selangor by-election and the many views expressed, Hindraf campaigners see the single most pertinent fact in that Pakatan Rakyat has lost its highly underestimated baseline support – the Indians.
Lacking the influence of Hindu Rights Action Force and Human Rights Party campaigners is seen by them as the main reason for PKR candidate Zaid Ibrahim’s defeat in Hulu Selangor.
HRP adviser N Ganesan contrasts this to the wave of Hindraf support in four states two years ago that he believes led to Pakatan general election success, placing the largest collection of Indian MPs in Parliament.
Ganesan said the results of last two by-elections – Bagan Pinang state seat in Negeri Sembilan and Hulu Selangor – clearly showed that Pakatan was rapidly losing the Indian vote bank without the Hindraf/HRP backing.
“Both seats have sizeable and decisive number of Indian votes. Pakatan failed to capture the majority of the Indian votes and lost both,” he told FMT.
He recalled that Hindraf-inspired Indians strongly backed Pakatan en bloc in the general election of 2008 resulting in Pakatan having a third of parliamentarians and more Indian elected representatives than Barisan Nasional.
“Indian frustration has boiled over to the ballot boxes,” said Ganesan, who is also a political analyst for HRP, alluding to the recent Hulu Selangor by-election.
BN’s P Kamalanathan from MIC won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat by a 1,725-vote majority on Sunday, polling 24,997 votes against PKR supreme council member Zaid’s 23,272 votes. Indian voters form 19.3% of the constituency voters or 12,453.
Similarly in the Bagan Pinang by-election last October, BN’s Mohd Isa Samad won with a landslide 5,435 majority, garnering 8,013 votes against PAS Negeri Sembilan commissioner Zulkefly Mohamad Omar’s 2,578. There, Indian voters comprised 20.7% of the constituency’s 13,664 eligible voters.
Unlike in the last general election, activists from Hindraf /HRP did not campaign for Pakatan in Hulu Selangor this time.
Hindraf/HRP held firmly to their demand that Pakatan fulfil two conditions in return for their supporting Zaid: that the PKR-led Selangor government allot freehold land to all 98 Tamil schools in the state within next two months, and that Pakatan to stop the practice of Umno and MIC "mandore politics" in the coalition.
“Pakatan refused to budge. As a result, Zaid lost,” claimed Ganesan.
He said Indian frustration against Pakatan was triggered by last year’s demolition of Indian traditional village, Kampung Buah Pala, in Penang, which is governed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of DAP.
Ganesan warned that the demolition of the village, once popularly known as High Chaparral, would have a trigger-effect nationwide in the next general election unless Pakatan acted swiftly to stop the rot.
It was time that Pakatan state governments acknowledged their shortcomings and failures to safeguard the rights, interests and benefits of the marginalised Indian community in the respective states, he said.
Pakatan governments in Penang, Kedah and Selangor must implement pro-active, long-term policies to upgrade living standards of the working class Indians, who form the bulk of the Indian community and are largely in the lower income bracket.
Ganesan claims that the outcome of the Hulu Selangor contest would have been different if Pakatan governments have heeded Hindraf/HRP's numerous calls to safeguard Indian interests in their states.
The last two by-election results, he said, revealed that Pakatan secured 70% to 80% each of Indian and Chinese votes, and at least 30% to 40% Malay support to win mixed constituencies. “Even 50% of Indian votes would not be enough,” he said.
He said the only way for Pakatan to win back Indian votes was by forging a political alliance with Hindraf/HRP.
He has ruled out any cooperation with Umno-led BN. “But we would only work with Pakatan if the coalition can assure us of a better future for Indians in the country,” said Ganesan.