The uncompromising position of ABU, and a compromised Hindraf?

Posted on March 28, 2013




I’ve said this too many times already.

UMNO  / BN must go.

They have long been the curse and cancer of the nation.

There can be no negotiating with robbers and thieves.

No deals.

No compromises.

And for so long as I have a say in the direction ABU takes, then this, too, is the position of ABU.

Hindraf’s entry into ABU, too, was firmly founded on this  : bury UMNO / BN come the 13th GE.

Today, Hindraf appears to have shifted away from this to a new uncompromising stance with regard to their blueprint.

Theirs is a ‘take all of our blueprint or you are not with us’ position.

In his penned thoughts on the 18th day of his fast, as reported by Malaysiakini, Waythamoorthy says this of the blueprint :

“The proposals in the five-year blueprint are entirely justifiable”.

No doubt much time and effort has gone into crafting the blueprint and it is therefore understandable that Waythamoorthy should see it  as ‘entirely justifiable’.

Just as Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia and HAKAM would  see their proposed Social Inclusion Agenda as a most comprehensive, totally inclusive and the most pressing reform that needs to be put into place post the 13th GE in order to address the plight and needs of all marginalised, without regard to ethnicity.

In January, this year, Hindraf very kindly extended an invitation to ABU to attend a dinner at the Crystal Crown Hotel, PJ, where they would, amongst others, be sharing details of their blueprint.

ABU attended.

I listened attentively to the presentation by Hindraf’s Ganesan.

The blueprint addressed real problems faced by some of the poorest Indians in the country : displaced estate workers, stateless persons, lack of access to education and job opportunities, police brutality including deaths in custody, and institutionalised racism.

I stand with Hindraf on these issues.

However, I have serious misgivings with 2 aspects of the reforms proposed in the blueprint.

First, the provision for a quota for Indians in the proposed vocational training facility.

Fundamentally, for me, quotas are the very antithesis of meritocracy.

Should the Ibans, the Dayaks, the Kadazans, Orang Asli, Chinese and Malays all be granted quotas should they all make demands for the same?

And should these quotas, year in and year out, be fulfilled, even if those admitted to these educational institutions fall well short of standards set?

If so, let us not pretend to champion meritocracy and be honest enough to see that we are perpetuating a policy long put in place by UMNO / BN.

Which has led us to where we are now.

We are a rich nation.

We should provide for the educational needs of all, without having to limit places to ethnic communities based on declared quotas.

That is an UMNO / BN way of keeping the people divided.

My second misgiving is Hindraf’s proposal for the establishment of a Minority Affairs Ministry, to be helmed by Hindraf.

My preference is the Social Inclusion Commission mooted by SABM and HAKAM, with powers as provided for under the proposed Social Inclusion Act.

Prof Azmi Sharom shares his thoughts on the Social Inclusion Commission HERE.

So what we have here is a difference of opinion, not on the real problems confronting the poorest Indians in the country, but on the steps that need be taken to effectively address these problems.

These differences may in fact arise simply because whilst Hindraf’s focus is that of the plight of the long marginalised Indians, ABU casts its attention to the entire 40% of the population who have been left out of the mainstream of development in the country.

Should these differences cause both ABU and Hindraf to part ways?

Quite the contrary, I firmly believe that in those circumstances, what is called for is keen, honest dialogue, with egos put aside, with the only objective being to pick the best solutions brought to the discussion table.

That evening at the Crystal Crown event, I could not get in a word or two to Waythamoorthy, so I briefly shared my thoughts as outlined above with the emcee of the evening, Dr Paraman, and my friend, Sambulingam, both of Hindraf.

I requested that they convey these views to Waythamoorthy together with my proposal that I host a meeting between Hindraf, on the one hand, and SABM and HAKAM, where the pros and cons of both the Hindraf blueprint and the Social Inclusion Agenda might be closely examined.

Let me briefly digress here to highlight that at a dialogue with political parties on the proposed Social Inclusion Agenda on 29th September 2012, STAR (Sabah), SAPP, PSM and PRM endorsed the proposed Act and pledged to implement it if they are to be part of the next federal government, whilst the DAP representative on behalf of the party accepted the proposal in principle and said she would bring the matter to the party for fuller consideration. The PKR representative said he would bring the proposal to the attention of the party leadership.

Subsequent to that presentation at the Crystal Crown, I have communicated with Dr Paraman by telephone and met Sambulingam once.

However, I got no positive response to my proposal.

Then followed the exchange of sms’ between Waythamoorthy and myself that led to my “ABU-Hindraf collaboration over, it would seem” post.

Even as I wrote that post, I hoped that I was wrong.

Recent events suggest otherwise.

When Hindraf officially unveiled its blueprint in November, last year, Malaysiakini reported Hindraf national adviser N Ganesan as saying that whichever political coalition endorsed the Hindraf blueprint would receive its support.

This, to me, was clearly at odds with ABU’s stand and I sought clarification.

“Ganesan was wrongly quoted”, I was told.

I took that explanation in good faith.

Two days ago, after meeting Najib, this is what Waythamoorthy had to say, as reported by Malaysiakini :

“…The big explosion took place at the grand Hindraf rally of November 2007. The Indians in the country were at war with Umno. Umno was Hindraf’’s nemesis. They hounded us, harassed us and went to extreme measure to kill us off…Then after reaching a crescendo, Umno started to roll back on all of that when Najib Abdul Razak took over as prime minister. They released the activists from Kamunting. They reduced, then stopped, the harassments, they lifted the ban on us, returned my passport and allowed me to return, and now reaching a new peak of this trend, Najib invited us for a meeting yesterday…Najib, for his part, had also to come a long way to meet us at this point – he probably had to overcome significant resistance from various segments within his domain to get to the point of inviting us for this meeting. This was indeed a risky move for him personally. So, it can be said that the meeting yesterday was truly a historic meeting…Subsequent meetings are really the key, should they take place. They will provide opportunity to explore the possibilities of meeting respective objectives by movements of positions on both sides.”

And then Waythamoorthy repeated what Ganesan was said to have been misquoted by Malaysiakini some 4 months earlier.

“I reiterate, whichever of the two coalitions accepts and endorses the blueprint will get our total support. This is not decided as yet. There is still some time before Hindraf will come off this ambiguity and take a firm position in this issue”.

In his penned thoughts yesterday, Waythamoorthy spoke of the virtues of the impoverished Indians strategically abstaining from voting come the 13th GE, should both BN and Pakatan not endorse the Hindraf blueprint.

“…strategic abstention does become a purposeful option for the Indian poor in this election. By this act, the Indian poor would take the opportunity to show the significance of their vote.Whether we will issue the call for this will be determined over the next couple of weeks, depending on when Parliament is dissolved”.

In truth, this call to the Indians to boycott the 13th GE has already gone out.

On 21st March, the following sms was forwarded to me by a fellow blogger who is Indian.

“Masyarakat India jangan undi pd PR 13 jika pelan induk HINDRAF tidak diiktiraf & selagi itu mogok lapar akn berterusan. Boikot ceramah PKRDAP hidup HINDRAF! Sebarkan. Pls forward tis mes to everyone”.

This message was sent out by the least known of Waythmoorthy’s brothers, known in civil society circles as Segaran, and recently seen by many of us as Hindraf’s own Special Branch.

On 2nd August, last year, ABU declared war on UMNO / BN.

For us at ABU, nothing has changed.