Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Right time for 3rd Force, says Hindraf

By Joe Fernandez - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi has expressed its readiness to contest in national elections as part of a so-called Third Force that would keep both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in check.

“It is an idea whose time has come,” Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy said.

He suggested that it be initiated from East Malaysia and led by Sabah strongman Jeffrey Kitingan, but the latter indicated to FMT that he was not too interested.

Speaking from London, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Waythamoorthy said Hindraf’s political wing, the Human Rights Party Malaysia, was ready to contest under such a force for 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats in Peninsular Malaysia. According to him, Indians make up at least 30 percent of the electorate in each of these constituencies.

He said he planned to hold a conference in London soon to discuss the Third Force and to get feedback from Malaysians resident in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.

Talk of a third force has gained momentum, especially in cyberspace, since it became apparent a couple of weeks ago that there is a serious falling out between Pakatan co-ordinator Zaid Ibrahim and his colleagues in the PKR leadership, especially de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and vice-president Azmin Ali, who has virtually won the race for the party’s deputy presidency.

“We have been keenly following the explosion of interest back home and abroad in the Third Force,” said Waythamoorthy. “We are heartened by the public debate on a possible new political movement entering Parliament.”

However, he noted, none of the proponents of the idea had articulated it clearly enough to capture the imagination of the public.

“We would suggest that the initiative for a third force come from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. He gave the following two reasons for this:

* PR and BN are “more than enough” for the differing politics on the peninsula. Another national coalition, lacking the necessary critical mass, would quickly find itself asphyxiated between the two.

* Malaysian Borneo does not have a national party or national coalition and the Third Force can fill the vacuum.

He said Jeffrey should leave PKR and lead the new coalition.

“Jeffrey has the right political pedigree and must take a stand,” he said. “Either he’s with PKR or he’s out. If he’s out, then the Third Force is the approach he should take unless he wants to go back to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).”

Besides Hindraf and parties in Sabah and Sarawak, Waythamoorthy said the new coalition should include the Orang Asli, marginalized groups like the Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and any new party that Zaid Ibrahim would form.

'Our politics is different'

Jeffrey, contacted late last night after Waythamoorthy’s call, said that he was in no hurry to think about the Third Force.

“If the Peninsular Malaysians want to lead the Third Force as well, then we in Sabah and Sarawak can set up a fourth force,” he said. “And if Umno opens its doors to Indians and Chinese and becomes the Fourth Force, we can set up the Fifth Force.”

He declined to entertain questions that he would leave PKR soon or return to PBS. However, he confirmed that he would not join any party set up by Zaid or anyone else in Peninsular Malaysia. “Our politics is different,” said Jeffrey. “We should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. Two wrongs do not make one right.”

He also declined to dwell on speculation that a new Borneo-based party headed by him was in the works.

He responded that “it was news” to him when asked for his take on widespread speculation in Kota Kinabalu that Anwar Ibrahim called him over the weekend and offered to let him name the party’s candidates for all the KadazanDusunMurut seats in Sabah.

He said Anwar had made many promises in Sabah before and “never kept any of them” except for appointing Christina Liew Chin Jin Hadhikusumo as deputy chief for PKR Sabah.