Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hindraf & Malaysian Indian Politics

I have written on Hindraf in the past, you can read it here,

1. Hindraf – One Year Later, click here

2. Hindraf Part 2 – Memorandum to British Government, Click here

3. Hindraf – I rest My Case, Click here

4. Hindraf – Reader’s Comments, click here

3rd year Anniversary

3 years after the Nov 27 2008 rally at Jalan Ampang, Hindraf has become the biggest embarrassment to the Indian community in Malaysia.

It was reported that only 30 people turned up to Hindraf’s 3rd Anniversary gathering at KLCC. It was also reported that they were on an 18 hours ‘hunger strike’.

Wait a minute; they had oats and plain water during the ‘hunger strike’, taking a page from India where there are hunger strikes by various groups almost everyday. Hunger strikes in India have transformed a lot since the days of Gandhi. Gandhi went on hunger strike for days without food or liquid until he can get a concession from the British on various issues and demands. Nowadays, standard practice is just to have hunger strike from 9am to 5pm, then everyone eats and goes back. Hindraf has improved it to include oats and water!

Those present were mainly hardcore Hindraf supporters but by looking at the pictures available, I suspect some participants are clueless why they are there. For an organization which claims that they will be contesting in 35 state and 18 parliament seats, their ability to gather only 30 people for the iconic 3rd Anniversary held on Saturday certainly tells us something else.

I had several conversations with several ex-Hindraf supporters, who participated in the rally, on the anniversary and almost all of them now ridicule Uthayakumar, with many deriding him as an embarrassment to the community. While everyone, including me agrees that the demonstration on Nov 27, 2007 did awaken Indians and made them more conscious of their political power and rights, Hindraf did not capitalise it properly and positively.

Some friends who had directly been involved in the Hindraf activities at local level calls Uthayakumar and brother, the infamous exile, Waytha Moorthy, a thief and some others claims that Uthayakumar is now more concerned about donations than anything else. Many hard core supporters have deserted Hindraf or HRP now, in droves to the arms of BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

The 5 Hindraf ISA detainees have gone separate ways and have only bad things to say about each other. Manaoharan and Ganapathi Rao is in DAP while Vasanthakumar is in PKR. Not sure what happens to the other man.

Hindraf & Pakatan Rakyat

Uthayakumar also has earned the ire of DAP and PKR Indians by calling Indian leaders in these two parties as Mandores in many of their critical postings in their website and also in many of their speeches. He had derided the Indian Leaders in Pakatan Rakyat for not doing enough for Indians and recently said that even the much insulted UMNO is better than Indian leaders in Pakatan.

Indian leaders in Pakatan, including the previously ‘Makkal Sakhti’ shouting Anwar Ibrahim has distanced themselves from HRP/Hindraf as they appear to be a bit too extreme and racist.

Hindraf/HRP, realising that they are seen a extreme, racist and only interested to champion Indian causes, now aims to champion Orang Asli and minority non-bumiputras in Sabah and Sarawak. There has not been significant progress seen due to lack of resources and support coupled with problems with it’s negative image.

Hindraf have not ruled out working with even UMNO and BN if they are willing to aceed to their 18 point demands. There has been several rumours that Hindraf , tired with Pakatan Rakyat are in secret talks with BN, with money seen as the main motivation. These rumors are spread through comments in blogs and comments in sites such as Malaysiakini usually by supporters of Pakatan Rakyat. If you want to believe Pakatan Rakyat supports, it seems that Uthayakumar and Wayta Moorthy are in desperate need of financial assistance and they don’t mind working with BN.

Now they are on a road show to communicate their plans to contest in 35 state and 18 parliament seats and also to seek donations for this purpose. I bet that they will lose their deposits if they are locked in a 3 way contest against Pakatan and BN. In the end, this will only confirm the rumor that Hindraf contested to split the votes benefiting BN, in return of some financial assistance for the brothers.

This aside, one of the main reasons for Hindraf’s decline is due to their own conduct and also the Kampung Buah Pala incident where Uthayakumar promised to sleep there and defend the village at all cost. On the day of demolition, he was nowhere to be seen. This was widely reported in the Tamil media for days.

Hindraf leaders are also guilty of name calling and use of inappropriate words aimed at Pakatan Rakyat Indian leaders via various web postings and speeches. This did not go down well with many Pakatan Rakyat Indian leaders and supporter who were once Hindraf sympathizers. Their various insults aimed at Malays, Muslims and UMNO in particular invited anger even from the Malay Pakatan supporters.

Hindraf & Typical Malaysian Indian Politics

Hindraf and their leader’s conduct, approach and strategies are no way different from other Indian leaders in Malaysia, only that they are standing on the wrong platform. Indians are generally confrontational and non-compromising, hence the result that we see today where there are dozens of Indian based political parties and hundreds of NGOs to serve and fight for their rights.

From what I have observed, Indian Malaysian politics are still widely personality based. Indian middle class and working class have the tendency to blindly follow their leaders without question and are prone to switch their allegiance frequently whenever things are not in their favour. They are also having this cow herd mentality to believe what their preferred leaders say without verifying facts and has short memory as in other Malaysians, mudah lupa syndrome.

And Indians tends to be extremely emotional when it comes to temples and Tamil schools. The irony is that while they can find millions to built temples, funds for schools are hard to come by. The recent death by self immolation of an Indian in Puchong, who protested the demolition of store adjacent to a temple, is testimony of how emotional can they become when it comes to temples, no matter that it is equally stupid as well, with respect to the victim.

Their expectations on their anointed leaders are always high due to their own blind belief on personalities. They can easily get agitated when provoked or when there are no action or activities by their leaders. They turn to someone else when they hear something good in store for them with checking the facts or whether the promises are able to be delivered or even logical, in the first place.

Samy Vellu’s and MIC’s outright rejections are due to this and this phenomenon is inflicting Pakatan Rakyat as well.

This was the also reason with majority Indians switched their support to Pakatan Rakyat in the 2008 elections and Anwar Ibrahim, who frequently used Hindraf’s battle cry ‘Makkal Sakhti’ in his rallies nationwide, became their hero although the same Anwar Ibrahim was in UMNO for 16 years and was part of the government Hindraf claims has been discriminating and marginalizing them.

Najib’s Approach

And of recent, many of these Indians , tired of all the rhetoric and empty promises by Pakatan Rakyat leaders, looked elsewhere and found new BN leader Najib more accommodating. Najib’s little India Project was widely publicized in the Tamil media and was received well. Najib has been quietly engaging the Indian based NGOs and community groups by side-stepping MIC and this has yielded positive results and improved image of BN.

Najib’s attendance to various lunches and diners organized by Indian ethnic groups such as the Telugus, Malayalees and Punjabi’s are unprecedented and seen positive for such groups who have never been able to invite any PM, DPM or even non-Indian leaders before.

Najib is also said to be behind, a anonymous website said to be spearheaded by 3 of the most effective Indian NGOs, Sri Murugan Centre (SMC) , EWRF and another NGO that I can’t recall. There are slew of full page colour advertisements advertisement of this website on Tamil newspaper and frequent airing on Tamil radio channels. The website provides useful information on citizenship issues, loans, scholarships, funding, skills training etc. It also provides a generally positive outlook on Indian Malaysians and how they can solve their problems with their own efforts.

The NGO’s appear to have been provided with funds by Najib to run this apart from government’s own road shows alongside MIC in towns and cities with significant Indian population. It has received positively by the community who rather trust NGOs than any political parties. Commendable community work carried out in the past by SMC and EWRF further lends credence that this time, government is serious about assisting Indians.

It can be safely said that 60% of Indians now view Najib and BN positively though only 40% are likely to be sure votes. On the other hand, a large number of middle class Indians are still skeptical and are deemed fence sitters. This group is weary of the old MIC and BN while not supporting Pakatan Rakyat entirely. There are also still significant percentage of Indian who is still hardcore supporters of Pakatan Rakyat, who are in denial and getting increasingly unhappy with some loud, constantly politicking Indian leaders in Pakatan Rakyat.

As for Hindraf, they will be forever etched in the history for their tsunami inducing rally, and their legacy will remain just that.


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rashid1891 said...

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Anonymous said...

A brave HINDRAF supporter fighting for his rights here:


Sui Generis said...

This is an extremely long post, kudos. Will come in handy for that book I am sure you are planning to write. :) Interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

I beleive if waytha and uthya want funds they have many other ways than hindraf, if uthaya is concerned about the donations its because money is the bloodline of any organizations, why is attractive to you? because of the positive outlook it creates e.g loans possible without money? you said indians are emotional about temples..try demolishing a surau..najib is simply taking indians for a ride to ensure bn's(read umno) political survival this ge-13.if some other race were to be in a pathetic state as indians they will be shedding blood (remember may 13, NEP?)Uthaya and waytha is doing all they can to make our life better. Ill tell you another indian mentality that you may have missed,"lalang"(if you get what i mean, if not its ok)cheers.