Friday, September 17, 2010

Hindraf paints bleak picture for reform agenda

By Joe Fernandez

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, in a Malaysia Day message issued last evening, paints a bleak picture of the change and reform agenda promised by the opposition alliance. The ad hoc apolitical movement is using the past 53 years as a guide to venture that this will have a bearing on the country’s future.

Hindraf’s assessment is also based on the observation that “Malaysians are not ready to be a merdeka (independent) society”. This is a factor that the opposition alliance has not factored in its plans to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya at the next general election expected by 2013, and this is what worries Hindraf.

The possibility of political change in Malaysia comes apart in Sabah and Sarawak, according to P Waythamoorthy, Hindraf’s London-based chairperson.

“Here, the ruling Umno elite has indoctrinated the local Muslims into the naïve belief that if they don’t stand united with their Muslim brethren in Peninsular Malaysia, both states will secede from Malaysia and become Christian republics in Borneo.”

The Hindraf chair opines that the local Muslims in Sabah have since discovered that they are no longer the most important factor in keeping the ruling elite in Putrajaya in power.

“The local Muslims in Sabah have had to pay a heavy price for being proxies to the ruling elite in Putrajaya since 1963” said Waythamoorthy. “They have now been effectively disenfranchised as well with the continuing influx of illegal immigrants who have entered the electoral rolls with MyKads issued by the backdoor.”

Waythamoorthy predicts that the local Muslims in Sarawak will suffer the same fate as their brethren in Sabah to complete the permanent colonisation of the non-Malays in Sabah and Sarawak by the ruling Umno elite in Putrajaya.

“Malaysia Day will only have meaning if the people of Sabah and Sarawak stand united and work hand in hand with the forces of change in Peninsular Malaysia,” Waythamoorthy said in a telephone interview from London. “This has not been happening.”

He described the MIC and MCA as mandore (labour headman) parties for Umno. These, he said, helped portray – through window-dressing and tokenism – that “Malaysia is a truly multi-racial country where power-sharing among the races has created the success story of a new nation”.

'Umno using MIC, MCA'

The MIC and MCA, said Waythamoorthy, have also been used by Umno to scare away the non-Malays from PAS.

In turn, the leaders have been well looked after by their Umno masters who want to ram down the ideology of Ketuanan Melayu (Malay political supremacy) down the throats of all Malaysians, he added. “This is an ideology that only serves the interests of the ruling Umno elite and not the Malay masses.”

The Hindraf chair labelled Ketuanan Melayu as an insidious ideology which was first planted by Malaysia’s founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and further honed by his successors. The “hidden agenda” appears to be to enable the ruling elite to indulge in abuse of power and exercise absolute power to embark on runaway corruption at the expense of the nation.

The failure of MIC, said Waythamoorthy, can be seen in the emergence of 450,000 stateless people among the Indian community in Peninsular Malaysia.

“This is a figure that Umno will dispute but we are not far off the mark,” said Waythamoorthy. “Their woes have been further compounded by the fragmentation of the plantation sector. This has sent them fleeing to the shanty towns in the urban areas as a permanent underclass.”

The Hindraf chair disclosed that he has since taken up the case of the Indian underclass, the stateless, with the United Nations which has confirmed that they could be termed “internally displaced persons” (IDP), that is, refugees within their own country. The Indian underclass has become “invisible people” – non-existent in law – and even more exploited than the foreign labour who at least have some papers on them.

The Indian underclass, without any personal documents, evidently lives in a world of their own without access to many of the things that Malaysians take for granted, for example EPF, Socso, legal marriages – which would make their children legitimate – education and travel outside the country, among others.

“If the Indian underclass has its woes, other Malaysians of Indian origin fare no better,” said Waythamoorthy. “Their children are denied scholarships and places in government-run universities even if they score A in all their subjects.”

He referred to the numerous demonstrations staged by deserving Malaysian students of Indian origin, and their parents, in recent months and described these as “solid proof”.

Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, to be reviewed after 15 years of independence, and Article 8, are not being applied as they should, said Waythamoorthy. “Umno and its leaders right from Tunku (Abdul Rahman) to Najib (Tun Razak) are master manipulators and neo-colonialists.”

He does not see the Indians, Chinese, Dayak, Dusuns, Muruts, Bajau, Suluk, the ordinary Malay masses and others ever enjoying the fruits of being in a truly independent country.

“If we are truly free, there would be respect for the rule of law, equality and freedom of religion,” said Waythamoorthy. “These are just some of the basic things to start with.”