Thursday, October 21, 2010

No more blanket support for Pakatan, says Hindraf

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: Unlike in 2008, Pakatan Rakyat cannot expect anymore “free lunches” from the Human Rights Party (HRP)and its axis, Hindraf Makkal Sakti.

Hindraf legal adviser and HRP secretary-general P Uthayakumar insisted that his group was committed to democratically ending the Umno-Barisan Nasional 53-year federal rule in the next election.

“But no blank cheque support this time for Pakatan to Putrajaya,” he said in a statement here today.

In the last general election, he said 90% of ethnic Indian voters backed PKR, DAP and PAS in response to Hindraf’s call for a new political direction.

He said ethnic Indians naturally would have high expectations of PKR, DAP and PAS, especially in the Pakatan-ruled states.

He said the Pakatan trio capitalised on the political awakening created by Hindraf’s Nov 25 rally and won 82 parliamentary and some 200 state seats.

The coalition also captured Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Perak (which it later lost to BN via defections), besides retaining PAS home turf – Kelantan.

“But after having made full use of the Indian voters, Pakatan dumped them like sucked oranges,” said Uthayakumar, a former ISA detainee.

He claimed that 100,000 poor Indians would not have gone to the streets on Nov 25 if only PKR, DAP and PAS had spoken up for them.

Political passion lacking

Uthayakumar said land for Tamil schools and Hindu temples, and education opportunities for qualified ethnic Indian students were among current pressing issues that never attracted Pakatan’s attention.

He said Pakatan leaders, including 11 ethnic Indian MPs, lacked the political passion and vibrancy to champion the ethnic Indian community in the country.

He said land matters were exclusively under the purview of the menteri besars in Selangor and Kedah, and chief minister in Penang.

But, he said despite two and half years of ruling these states, Pakatan has denied land for Hindu temples, burial grounds, Tamil schools and Indian villages even when it would be at no cost.

“Pakatan could have given permanent solution to long-standing problems faced by the Indian poor all in one go.

“But the coalition failed to seize the opportunity. Where is the promised change then?

“How is the supposedly multi-racial top leadership of PKR-DAP-PAS any different from the Umno-led regime?” asked the outspoken human rights advocate.

Uthayakumar recalled that there was never an instance when the Pakatan parliamentarians, including the ethnic Indian MPs, had walked out or tabled an emergency motion on a critical and pressing Indian problem.

“Why is that Pakatan MPs have refused to seriously debate in Parliament the denial of tertiary education and scholarships for some 2, 237 top and high achieving Indian students?

“(Is is because of) fear of losing Malay votes and wanting to be seen politically correct?” he asked.

Not multi-racial enough

Uthayakumar said the top leaders in Pakatan have refused to address scores of pressing Indian problems in the coalition-ruled states.

He chided the PKR, DAP and PAS top leadership for side-tracking the critical Indian problems and engaging their ethnic Indian so-called leaders to attack Hindraf-HRP.

“It’s an open secret that DAP, PKR and PAS are not multi-racial enough to speak up for the Indian poor.

“It’s because PKR, DAP and PAS have blatantly ignored the problems of the Indian poor that HRP has been forced into existence,” he said.

He also recalled that PKR refused to make way for a HRP candidate in Hulu Selangor by-election even though the candidate would have a better chance of winning.

He said even though MIC was virtually wiped out in the last election, Umno not only gave way but bent backwards to support and ensure MIC’s win in the Hulu Selangor by-election, which had a mere 19% Indian voters but 53.9% Malay electorate.

But, he said, the multi-racial outfit of PKR not only refused to make way for HRP but wanted to be seen as a more Malay party than Umno-fielded Malay candidate.

“This was silently watched by the Malaysian Malaysia DAP and PAS,” said Uthayakumar.

Thus, he said the Indian poor had been denied one lone “HRP” voice in Parliament, while the rest of Pakatan MPs, including PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang (DAP) and Hadi Awang (PAS) continued to refuse to champion pressing Indian problems.

Indian candidates dumped

Pakatan's choice of a non-Indian candidate in Hulu Selangor was not the first time PKR, DAP and PAS have dumped potential Indian candidates.

He said PKR, for instance, had chosen only ethnic Malay candidates in traditionally Indian reserved seats as they do not form a majority in any of the 222 Parliament or 576 state seats.

He recalled that PKR had always snatched away traditional Indian seats in the general elections of 1999, 2004 and 2008 and by-elections in Teluk Kemang, Lunas and Ijok.

Going by Pakatan’s multi-racialism, he argued that Indian candidates should have been fielded in Permatang Pauh (PKR), Bukit Gantang (PAS) and Ketari (DAP).

“But Pakatan brand of multi-racialism does not work this way,” he said.

Instead, he said Hindraf-HRP was accused of being racist for questioning both Umno, PKR, DAP and PAS' acts of racism by commission and omission.

He claimed that Pakatan's top leadership did not want to give HRP even the lone voice in Parliament because PKR, DAP and PAS did not want the pressing Indian problems to be ventilated and become politically detrimental to them.

“They may end up losing the Malay-Muslim votes.

“So they are least bothered about Indian poor being victimised on a daily basis,” claimed Uthayakumar.

Electoral gerrymandering

PAS has been ruling Kelantan with 735,551 mostly Malay voters, while DAP has been helming Penang with 704,097 mostly Chinese voters.

But even with 715,099 Indian voters based on the 2008 electoral roll, he accused Umno of gerrymandering electoral delineation to avoid Indians forming majority in any of the country’s 222 federal and 576 state seats.

“This is to preserve poor Indians in politically powerless state and keep the community under the tender mercies of Umno, and now PKR, DAP and PAS political masters," he said.

He said HRP would never beg for seats from Pakatan or BN because it was not a desperate political outfit.

“We are political activists first and politicians last,” said Uthayakumar.

He said HRP would go solo in the next general election as a last resort.

It is now embarking on its “Project 15/38” by concentrating Indian voters into 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats

HRP would first focus on the federal seats of Padang Serai, Batu Kawan, Teluk Kemang, Kota Raja, Cameron Highlands and Tebrau federal; and later on Lunas, Prai, Buntong, Port Dickson, Sri Andalas, Tanah Rata and Puteri Wangsa state seats.

He described the ethnic Indian political standing in the country as a “raw deal in BN but no deal in Pakatan”.

If the MIC was given a raw deal of nine parliamentary and 20 state seats under BN arrangement, he said it was no deal in Pakatan because HRP would be given zero federal and state seats.

Therefore, he said HRP would contest in these earmarked seats to seek political empowerment and speak up without fear or favour.

“We are not prepared to become the Indian mandores for Umno or PKR, DAP or PAS political masters.

“HRP will rise again to the occasion in the next general election in the spirit of Nov 25 Hindraf rally,” said Uthayakumar