Is there too much of Umno in Hindraf?

Posted on May 2, 2009



Correction : I got an sms from Nanda last night to say that I had boo-booed somewhat in this post.

Norlaila’s husband is Mat Shah, not Mat Satray, who is her father-in-law.

Nanda, thanks.

I stand corrected, as does this post.


In his ‘It’s called freedom of expression, stupid’ post today, RPK wrote, amongst other things :

“Umno and HINDRAF are exactly the same. They are just on opposite sides of the same coin, that’s all. Umno fights for Malay-Muslim rights and HINDRAF fights for Indian-Hindu rights. So, what difference are the two?”

I said almost the same a year and a half ago.

On 24th November, 2007, in my ‘Why I will not walk this Sunday…’ post, I wrote the following about the intended Hindraf rally due to take place the next day :

‘…I could not lend support to this initiative, not because I do not support the call to alleviate the lot of the Indians in this country, but because the Hindraf call is only to address the economic and social neglect of the Hindu / Indian community, and not the fate of all underprivileged, deprived and marginalised Malaysians, regardless of race.

And make no mistake, there are underprivileged, deprived and marginalised Malaysians of all races, without exception, in the country.

The Hindraf call, to my mind, is as chauvinistic and communal as is the UMNO call to defend ‘ketuanan Melayu’.

Both stand in the way of any earnest effort to forge a nation of a single people’.

3 days after that rally, I wrote in ‘A time to come together as one…’

‘Sunday was a start. Where do you go from there?

I ask the Hindraf leadership to note the concerns being articulated by many about the methods they have adopted and the demands they have made.

I ask the Hindraf leadership to not take these as criticisms of you, but as concerns voiced by those who are on your side.

I am one of those.

Both Hindraf and the ‘One People, One Nation’ initiative must recognise that because the target of our respective initiatives differ, the latter’s being wider in scope, so too our methods and our strategies differ.

The Hindraf leadership, I hope, will forgive me for this observation, and that is, that Hindraf has thus far taken an isolationist approach in pursuing its cause.

Perhaps, until Sunday, circumstances made it necessary.

The danger that we face now is that, if we pursue our respective strategies and methods independent of each other rather than working together on a common strategy, neither will get anywhere and the current status quo will remain.

In all humility, I say that if Hindraf is to take the cause that it now champions to its desired end, it must now change course.

I ask the Hindraf leadership to reflect upon this with an open heart.

My friends and I would welcome with open arms the Hindraf leadership to come together as one and secure justice and equality for all’.

On October 18th, last year, in my ‘Building bridges’ post, and with his prior consent, I disclosed brief details of an hour-long telephone conversation between Hindraf’s Waythamoorthy and myself. This is what I had written of that conversation :

‘We came to a consensus on a great many issues, including the need for all Malaysians to speak as one and to collectively address the needs of all marginalised Malaysians and, on that note, agreed to continue with our discussions with a view to exploring all possibilities of co-operation’.

Unfortunately, there has not been any further communication between the two us.

Two days ago, I played host to 2 Hindraf die-hards, both with open channels to Waythamoorthy.

I told them of the ongoing efforts of the team that I am working with on the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia “One People, One Nation” initiative, and that unless there was a major shift both in the emphasis and the discourse of Hindraf to be more inclusive rather than communalist,  my friends and I would find it difficult to work on any collaboration with Hindraf.

I offered to the two gentlemen, as an example, the candlelight vigil on 5th April, 2009, right after the government had announced the impending release of 13 ISA detainees, including two Hindraf detainees, and the sms, initiated by certain Hindraf mid-level leaders that made its rounds calling for support for the vigil to tuntut regim UMNO bebaskan Wira2 HINDRAF’. I had blogged about this HERE. As I mentioned in this post, I attended the vigil, not to participate in the same, but for the purpose only of voicing my unhappiness at the continued exclusivist approach taken by the Makkal Sakti folk, and to report on the event.

I asked the two why the sms did not call for the release of ALL ISA detainees? Why just the wira Hindraf?

noNorlaila Othman,  of Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI), whose husband Mat Satray is in his eighth year in Kamunting, works tirelessly to campaign for the release of ALL ISA detainees and its been rumoured that the husband has been told that he has not been released because of her activities to get ALL ISA detainees released.

Might not Norlaila’s efforts have in some small measure contributed to the recent release of the two Hindraf detainees?

And yet the Hindraf message that goes out retains its communalist stance?

The two gentlemen assured me that these sentiments would be communicated to Waythamoorthy.

You readers may also wish to convey your thoughts to Waytha through your comments.

Posted in: Bangsa Malaysia