Hindraf: Vote Opposition! March 4, 2008Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, Malaysia, Politics.
Tags: Hindraf, Makkal Sakti
Vote opposition, Hindraf tells supporters
K Kabilan | Mar 3, 08 12:50pm
Barely two weeks after stating its intention to remain non-partisan in the elections, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has changed its stance – it is now asking supporters to vote for opposition candidates.“Let us all do our part to deny BN the two-thirds majority as the ‘first step’ and work towards a progressive, cohesive and strong opposition representation in Parliament,” said Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoothy today.He said the opposition has committed to resolving issues affecting the Indian Malaysian community.
“Fifty years of blind loyalty to the BN is enough,” he said in email communication from London where he has been living in self-imposed exile since last December.
Waythamoorthy pointed out that the BN had “cheated, oppressed and misled” the community for a long time.
“PAS, Keadilan (PKR) and DAP are fairer and promise commitment to resolve Indian issues.”
However, he also stressed that Hindraf is not against the Malays or Islam.
“We have lived peacefully and in harmony with the Malays but Umno which controls the BN has deliberately adopted and implemented policies that divide and rule the multi-racial and multi-religious population,” he said.
He also accused Umno of instilling fear among Malays in relation to Hindraf’s demands.
This is the first time Hindraf is openly backing opposition candidates in the general election to be held on Saturday.
Previously Waythamoorthy had said that the movement wanted to remain apolitical, although he also said it would endorse several candidates.
Hindraf gained prominence after a mass rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 last year attracted almost 30,000 Indian Malaysians, who called on the government to elevate their economic and social status.
Discontent has spread over the lack of opportunities for the community’s development, with the targets of anger being the government and the MIC, the party which represents the community in BN.
In an attempt to curb the growing influence of Hindraf, the government has detained five leaders under the Internal Security Act. They are being held for two years at the Kamunting detention centre in Perak.
They include Waythamoorthy’s brother and lawyer P Uthayakumar, (photo) who represents the movement’s public face.
Grassroots sentiments have been with Hindraf, leading many to believe that the Indian community will ditch its loyalty to the BN as a show of protest.
Several Indian independent candidates have also taken advantage of the situation, stating that they are contesting in the interests of the community.
While no Hindraf leader is contesting the polls, several of its coordinators – who are also opposition party members – are trying their luck to ride the Hindraf wave.
The more prominent ones are DAP’s M Manoharan (left), one of the ISA detainees, who is standing in the Kota Alam Shah state seat, and S Manikavasagam (right) who is challenging MIC’s incumbent P Komala Devi at the Kapar parliamentary seat.
Both are expected to give BN rivals a tough fight, with some predicting that Manikavasagam may cause an upset.
Among the independents, V Arumugam (in Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah) and N Periasamy (in Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat) have openly declared that they are contesting on the back of Makkal Sakthi (people power).