Uthayakumar explains why the organisation chose not to take to the streets on July 9 in support of the Bersih 2.0 rally.
COMMENT By P Uthayakumar
Bersih 2.0 alias Pakatan Rakyat refuses to even engage the Human Rights Party (HRP) and Hindraf Makkal Sakti because of the Indian poor political baggage. But they want Indian support and Indian votes for free.
Hindraf and HRP can trace back their origins to at least 1990, even before the birth and rise of PKR. We came into existence because there were no takers for the Indian poor problem in the 54 years since the nation gained its independence.
And in all these 22 years, we have been forced to go almost solo as neither even the pseudo multi-racial PKR, DAP and PAS nor the supposed bi-racial NGOs and civil society really cared about the Indian poor, even up to this day.
They see the Indian poor problem as a “political liability” and “political baggage”. They prefer to play to the sentiments of the Malay Muslims, Chinese and natives which earn them greater political mileage.
Even during the Nov 25, 2007 Hindraf rally, we never had the support of PKR, DAP, PAS, NGOs and the civil society. We went almost solo with the Indian poor backing us up. And we paid the heavy price solo as well.
It was the Indian poor who literally bailed us out right up to the Hindraf lawyers release from ISA detention without trial after 514 days. And till now, especially during the Hindraf Anti-Interlok/ Anti Umno Racism Rally on Feb 27 this year – which saw 54 Hindraf activists maliciously arrested and prosecuted – we had to fight on our own.
But PKR, DAP and PAS made use of the 2007 Hindraf wave, and unprecedentedly denied Barisan Nasional its two-thirds Parliamentary majority and won five west coast states including winning 10 out of the 11 parliamentary seats in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. And like Umno/BN thereafter dumped Hindraf and the Indian poor like sucked oranges.
Using the power of money and the powerful Umno government machinery including that of the police Special Branch E3M, Umno destroyed Hindraf to a significant extent under Ops Padam Hindraf. But we are now rebuilding and regaining lost ground knowing that Hindraf still lives on in the hearts and minds of the Indian poor.
We were not invited
We have had been questioned on our non-participation in the July 9, 2011 Bersih rally.
Our reply was that we were never invited in the first place while 62 other NGOs were invited. We were not invited as we carry with us the Indian poor political baggage which Pakatan Rakyat sees as a political liability. And we refuse to be the blind followers or “cari makan” Indian mandores for the Tuans and Towkays in Pakatan, what more being one in BN.
Our position is that ending the Indian poor problem and ending the 54 years of continuous Umno rule must be fought along parallel lines and not “only after Pakatan Rakyat has got to Putrajaya”.
Especially so when PKR, DAP and PAS were already in the “Putrajaya” of Selangor, Penang and Kedah and refused to resolve even the most elementary Indian poor problems. For this and other obvious reasons, we are not prepared to give Pakatan a blank cheque to Putrajaya or to take a rain cheque for that matter. We want to be Pakatan’s internal check and balance.
Why should any democracy or those battling for free and fair elections have problems welcoming this healthy internal check and balance?
And Bersih 2.0′s free and fair elections also refused to include the de-gerrymandering of Indian majority seats like Sungai Petani, Padang Serai, Batu Kawan, Ipoh Barat, Sungai Siput, Bagan Datoh, Teluk Intan, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Kota Raja, Klang, Teluk Kemang, Cameron Highlands etc.
Of course if Pakatan leaders had also championed the cause of the Indian poor as done for minorities in the western civil societies, western democracies and western free and fair elections standards, we would be the first to concede that our position now would stand superfluous. In fact, we would not want to contest at all in the general election as we prefer the majoritarian Malay Muslim, Chinese and native top leaders and their MPs to champion the cause of the Indian poor.
It should have made sense also to Bersih 2.0 that despite there being almost one million Indian voters in Malaysia, (715,099 Indian voters in the 2008 electoral roll) there is not even one Indian majority seat in all of the 222 Parliament and 576 state assembly seats. But we suppose this does not fall within the ambit of free and fair elections of Bersih alias Pakatan. We do not need even one Indian majority seat if and only Pakatan’s top leaders, their 75 MPs’ including their 11 Indian mandore MPs’ do not sidestep the pressing Indian poor problem vis-a-vis Umno racism.
We are a different breed
But Pakatan is not even prepared to engage HRP and Hindraf as we consciously and uncompromisingly choose not to abandon the cause of the Indian poor vis-a-vis Hindraf’s 18-point demand which Pakatan sees as a political liability.
To Pakatan, we wish to state that Hindraf and HRP are not the easily excitable Malaysian Indians they have been so used to seeing or dealing with including during their ex-Umno days.
And neither are we prepared to assume the role of the much sought after by Umno/BN and now Pakatan i.e. the “cari makan” Indian mandores. We are a different breed. We are a different lot. We are a different kettle of fish. We are racing against time. We stand for equality and equal opportunities as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Federal Constitution especially for the Indian poor in both the government, GLCs and the private sectors.
For this, our detractors branded us as the Indian Perkasa, racists and extremists. But when we ask them to point out to one instance of we ever having asked for Ketuanan India (like what Perkasa does), they have no answer. The truth is they use this Perkasa label on us as a shrewd strategy in completely sidestepping especially the pressing Indian poor problem.
In conclusion, Bersih = Pakatan Rakyat, Umno = Kotor and HRP = Hindraf’s 18-point demand.
If we are forced to go solo again, so be it. Assuming even if we lose 100% of HRP’s 15/38 seats because Pakatan won’t make way for us, we have already won as a political pressure group against both Umno/BN and Pakatan’s racism against the Indian poor as evidenced by our daily postings inwww.humanrightspartymalaysia.com.
Be that as it may, the Bersih rally was a success and we congratulate them. If invited, we would consider attending the next Bersih rally as it is also our main objective to end Umno’s rule, which is the main main cause for the predicament faced by even the sixth generation of Malaysian born Indian poor.
P Uthayakumar was arrested under the ISA in 2007 for leading the Indian cause through Hindraf. He is Hindraf’s legal advisor and the pro-tem secretary-general of Human Rights Party.
The rally's estimated to be 100 000 people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning.At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released. One day before the rally, police arrested three HINDRAF lawyers, P. Uthayakumar, P. Waytha Moorthy and V. Ganabatirau for sedition charges. Uthayakumar and Ganabatirau posted bail of 800 Malaysian ringgits each, but Waytha Moorthy refused bail as a sign of protest.