Hindraf is alive and well. Hindraf, learning from the letdown from the PR coalition after it rallied the Indian votes to PR in the 12th GE has made a strategic decision to create an Indian vote bank to enable the negotiation of a better deal for the future of Indians in this country, something which has eluded the minority Indians for all of their existence. Of course this vote bank will be led by Hindraf – more specifically its political wing, the Human Rights Party. Hindraf continues to match the situation as the situation develops.
And of course there are plenty of people out there who are affected adversely by this move. Obviously, the UMNO led establishment will not have it .Using their large arsenal, they attempt in all ways to kill off the nascent movement. Using their Police Special Branch, by associating Hindraf with LTTE, by portraying Hindraf as an extreme group in the mainstream media, by bribes of money, perks, and other privileges they give out to opportunistic individuals and organizations, by the illusions of a splintering community, by the creation of new mosquito Indian political parties and by treacherous tactics, they try to kill off Hindraf.
The PR coalition too for their part are also affected by Hindraf’s move to create the Indian vote bank and to lead it. PR responds by attempting to marginalize HRP and HINDRAF by branding them as racists. Unfortunately the Indian Mandores in their fold work with them on this initiative. All, so they can continue to keep the Indian votes they got in the last elections – for cheap and hopefully without too significant an obligation. Examples abound where the PR coalition has reneged on this implied obligation. The latest being their refusal to speak up for even the 13As Indian SPM top students who were denied their rights only because they are Indians. They are denied JPA scholarships, Matriculation and University places – also scholarships in Petronas, Shell, Mara, Khazanah, Tenaga, Telekom, 13 State Yayasan and scores of other public and private corporation Banks and Industries scholarships. PKR, DAP and PAS do not get any political mileage by championing the Indian poor cause, worse they fear losing Malay Muslim votes.
Hindraf pre-25th November 2007 was not ready to deal with post Nov 25th, as it was a tiny and almost two man show led by P. Waythamoorthy and P. Uthayakumar who caused that significant eruption after a 16 year struggle. For this reason Hindraf was never in any position to have a plan to deal with the mighty UMNO and the emergent PR post Nov 25th. All of this creates a situation now where people like the writer of the article conclude that Hindraf is back to square one.
It was the case of a giant (UMNO) versus the then tiny Hindraf from the word go. There is no issue of Hindraf going back to square one returning to pre 2007, where a puny team is fighting “everyone”. If anybody else fought for the Indian poor then we won’t be seen to be fighting “everybody”. Because nobody else is standing up for the Indian poor, they (everybody else) do not like it when we do stand up and ask all these ugly questions to them. So, it looks like we are up against everybody else. But that has always been the case. Nothing new about that. It is just a lot clearer who stands where now. In fact Hindraf and HRP would be out of a job especially with PKR, DAP and PAS multiracialism, if their policies truly were inclusive and encompassing of the Indian issues. Up to date there have been zero takers for the issues of the Indian poor.
Given all of this and given the passage of time since Nov 2007 slowly but surely the lion inside Hindraf is growing from strength to strength day by day as you can see in our website www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com. The illusion of going back to square one is what the detractors of Hindraf would want people to believe. But Hindraf’s cause is a true and necessary and Hindraf will continue to struggle on – square one, two, three ….. whatever it takes, but not to stay at square one. Maybe two steps forward and one step back as often happens in any struggle, but forward always.
BN or PR do not have the answers for the future of the Indian community in this country. Only when they have meaningful answers will Hindraf become irrelevant and under those conditions Hindraf does not mind becoming irrelevant – mission would have been accomplished. Until then Hindraf and HRP will be there for the Indian community in the country and moving on step by step towards that ultimate goal.
One of the current initiatives embarked on by HRP is the gearing up for the 2012/2013 general elections, to realize the Indian minority vote bank via it’s Project 15/38 . Project 15/38 is the creation of Indian majority Parliament and State seats and winning in these 15 Parliamentary and 38 State seats respectively to gain true representation for the minority Indians.
The unharnessed Hindraf energy after 2007 is slowly but surely being reharnessed – this time in an intelligent and organized way This phase of Hindraf is gathering more steam as the “bad boys”, the opportunists in Hindraf have been exposed or have left the struggle for greener pastures elsewhere leaving Hindraf with a passionate and sacrificing group of activists to lead the struggle.
While Hindraf and HRP is committed to end the 53 year old reign of terror by UMNO, we are not prepared to give PKR, DAP, PAS and P.R a blank cheque to Putrajaya either and risk waiting for another 53 years. Via our Project 15/38 we will find our own future, no matter the naysayers. We will be a check and balance on PR when they get to Putrajaya. In short we are not prepared to trust PR like how the Indians had blindly supported UMNO and BN for 50 long years. Nor are we prepared to become the mandores of PKR, DAP, PAS and PR either.
You may be right. Uthaya may have already become a legend had he been a mandore for BN or PR. but he chooses to remain the puny individual fighting “everyone” along with his band of passionate and sacrificing activists. But that fight is real one, one that moves the politics of the country and creates new history.
Indians back to square one, pre-2007
As far as Hindraf is concerned, consider that Umno neutralised it even before ‘The Game’ started. It was a knockout by default. Holding the Hindraf5 under ISA really did the trick. Today the Hindraf is in tatters. While under ISA, Umno successfully split up the Hindraf detained leaders, turning some Hindraf leaders to Umno’s side. They demonised Hindraf, making it lame, tame and powerless and even managed to get them to go against Pakatan Rakyat causing it to lose the community’s support.
It was even rumoured one of the Hindraf 5 is an undercover Special Branch agent. Umno’s tricks are boundless. Where Umno is concerned, it has achieved what it wanted. MIC’s win in Hulu Selangor gave Umno the credibility it needed.
Hindraf burst into the scene at a time when Indians were frustrated with their lot after 50 years of neglect. This included the Indians in estates (the lower income and the less fortunate), university graduates, middle-class and also many professionals. In the past 30 years, they have had only one Indian leader, S Samy Vellu who is both despised by many but worshiped by some who readily sit at his feet.
During the 1980’s, the Indians woke up because of the many NGOs and social activists. Many of them began to question the sincerity of Barisan Nasional and in particular, Umno. Nevertheless, few dared to even vote against BN hence the successful 2004 results during Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s regime.
From the 1990s, many individuals, groups and network of NGOs have been airing their frustration with regards to the insensitive Muslim conversions, lack of education opportunities (especially the allotment of scholarships), the poverty level, the unjust and forced eviction from estates and lands, the high rate of street crimes within their communities and the manner in which they were thrust into hostile and congested city slums from a quiet, rustic estate environment.
These social ills and economic frustrations were never addressed by MIC, who is their political spokesman. Since the 1990s, MIC has won every single seat it was allotted except during the Lunas by-election, giving it a winning rate of almost 100% for its candidates. However, the grovelling and kissing-up to Umno, its thuggish behaviour and their callous disregard for its people, has made Indians begin to see beyond the veil and smokescreen of the MIC-Umno wayang.
The media has already reporters of a whole Indian village which was without electricity and water for over 50 years.
The advent of Hindraf gave the Indians a venue to vent their pent-up frustration and anger. By sending the memorandum to the British Embassy in a strategic move, Hindraf got Umno’s attention. Umno took immediate action on the 30,000-strong crowd in the street, creating a war-like zone with tear gas canisters, batons and heavily armed FRU and police presence to beat them back into their hovels.
It is my intention to inform your readers that there were ‘hundreds’ if not ‘thousands’ of professionals and businessmen at that Hindraf rally in 2007. You could even spot some ‘millionaires’ among the crowd gathered to hear the speeches that Nov 25. The Indian community solidly supported Hindarf en masse something which never happened previously.
Umno responded quickly. On Dec 13, Umno, fed-up and not wanting to drag Hindraf through a messy court trail, made its move. Abdullah dumped the five into Kamunting instead and the rest is history. Everything happened accordingly to Umno’s plan.
Since then, what has happened to these people? There was a lot of buzz on the ground, vigils, gatherings, prayers, numerous meetings and even campaigns that were initiated. P Uthayakumar probably didn’t anticipate such a success for Hindraf after 2007. Maybe, that’s why there was no plan B to harness this energy that was created. Such energy that was not used, dissipated and thus wasted. With no proper plan B to take over the leadership, it just could not compare with Samy Vellu’s huge, organised political-structure – the MIC.
There was such a huge energy among the people for Hindraf then. ‘Makkal Sakthi’ groups were formed across the nation and many individuals organised themselves with a new sense of awakening following the rally. The ballon of fear was burst open and the people began to come out of their shells, discussions were open and everyone wanted to do something. We did not want to go back to MIC as we had burnt our bridges to it but we were burning with desire to do something for the Indian community.
Among us was not just the labourer class of Indians as the media portrays but also the working class, the professionals, the educated and also the English-speaking. Unlike what has been labelled of us, we, too, had a reason to fight on and stay here, for the love of our country and to help the downtrodden and we did whatever we could in whichever way we wanted.
Can we be blamed if it didn’t turn out exactly as what the activists wanted because we were groping for our way? When Umno realised their mistake, they systematically had an exit planned. Never would they have wanted Indians to support Pakatan.
They wanted the community back for themselves, so we can see the sabotage and traitors who could be bought over as we saw during the following by-elections. The Maklal Sakthi Party is a prime example of sabotage. Will the Indians bite the bait? it seems to have been by the looks of Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor..
What went wrong for Hindraf? There were no plans to get appropriate people to work for the community on the social, economic and political levels. The Indians had no other choice but to run into the arms of Pakatan Rakyat. Socially, many individual bodies and networks were created with no links to Hindraf. Economically, many wanted to help but once Umno got Hindraf banned (a smart move), the rich did not want their names into a bad ight..
The ‘third force’ that is coming up is a dream come true for Umno. It is the best way to alienate the Indians and Pakatan. Umno has got two mangoes with one stone. Hindraf has turned the tables against the very people who it used to work with. We can only sit and lament at this conclusion taken by Hindraf.
All we wanted was to be rid the shackles under Umno and to start rebuilding for a progressive community after 50 years but we are back to square one, returning to pre-2007, where a puny team is fighting everyone. Uthaya is a leader who could have been a legend..