THE SPENT POWER OF HINDRAF
SOME HOME TRUTHS
Hindraf and its leaders would do well not to compare themselves with Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King. Each of these men were peaceful, open minded people, with a high intellect, selfless and open to negotiation on issues that affected their constituents and more importantly reflected the aspirations of all of humanity. There was nothing parochial about their causes, although their individual race groups were necessarily used to channel what belonged to all of us as the situation and need to do so was unavoidable then in their circumstances.
Each of these leaders avoided name calling, unfounded sensational allegations against their adversaries and stuck to the truth however much some of it hurt them in the end on occassion. Hindraf has as its constituent members and followers, Hindus of a particular caste and an organizational structure that favours family members and friends. Its called nepotism. Not a broad church it needs to achieve that critical mass to be heard.
Hindraf as a political movement has become irrelevant and incredulous with its far fetched claims against in particular Dr. Mahathir Mohamed former Prime Minister of Malaysia then the Malays as a race, leaving behind unmentioned in its diatribe, its own many faults and the divisions within the Indian community that is at the root of many an Indian Malaysian problem.
Hindraf instead conveniently pursues a policy and a strategy full of contradictions, its actions and words often found to be in violation of its own stated principles and objectives. It is a movement soundly rejected by the likes of Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan, a prominent Tamil and her class of uppity Indian Malaysians who instead chose the wealthy “liberals” and those Chinese opposition members who crave and covet a Malaysia under their rule.
Ambiga’s comments on Hindraf in private, leaves a lot to be desired about both Hindraf, the Brahmin Ambiga and her “human rights campaign” under the flag of convenience of Bersih. Bersih being another “non political party” in the same mould of Hindraf, a ploy they hope will allow them to continue to avoid public accountability and the sinister agendas for Malaysia they conceal.
WHO OR WHAT IS HINDRAF TODAY?
Hindraf is a nepotistic organization that does not resile from using children as human shields to further its causes. And those children they have in the past used come from the very families of the same leaders whose claims to leadership and allegations of nepotism against Dr. Mahathir are conveniently protected from public scrutiny by their refusal to become a registered political party. Hindraf is a political party by any other name. Ambiga Sreenivasan adopted the same tactic with Bersih by refusing to disclose Bersih’s sources of foreign funding which she admitted to in London or to the extent and the amount of funding unlawfully given to her and her movement by the Selangor State Government prior to and subsequent to the July riot.
Waythamurthi, Hindraf’s exiled leader must, first allow the” movement” which is what he refers to Hindraf as to be more transparent, inclusive and accountable (especially for the funds that have not been accounted for, raised during the November 2007 march). Non Tamils and non Hindus continue to struggle in ventilating their views on Hindraf forums without the attendant threatening gestures and censorship by Hindraf’s leadership. The name Hindraf an acronym for Hindu Rights Action Force is of itself a race and culture based organization. Such an organization cannot lend itself to the utopian dream of a race free state Hindraf leaders preach from one side of their mouths.
MALAYSIA A RACIST COUNTRY-A HINDRAF SLOGAN
If Malaysia is a racist country it is certainly not by UMNO’s existence alone. In fact not at all by UMNO but by the caste and race divisions created by the MIC, its predecessors and the MCA. The two non Malay parties each bargained for the race based enclaves they desired at independence which they now wallow in uncomfortably. That’s neither the fault of UMNO nor that of the Barisan. Instead it is the fault of the political leaders of each of the other two parties non UMNO and their subservient silent followers intimidated into silence by their own cultural practices.
Tun Sambanthan on behalf of the Goundars and those he believed to be Brahmins, like Ambiga Sreenivasan, created a caste based hierarchy excluding all but a token handful of non Tamil talent from the party’s central committees. His successor Tan Sri Manickavasagam did no better. Both furthered their own adventures, feathered their own nests at the expense of the Tamils and acquired substantial personal fortunes in their time as did Samy Velu. However for the latter, it must be said that for all his faults he did a far better job for Tamils in Malaysia than the other two could ever have done even in their time and beyond.
THE VISHVA HINDU PARISHAD-FIGHTING FIRE OR FUELLING THE FLAMES?
Hindraf, which courts the heat and the powerful political lobbies of organizations like the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) must understand the race and religious based fundamentals of the VHP before casting that first stone against UMNO and others who disagree with them. And that too in the US of all places. It was here that Hindraf went to condemn Malaysia as a racist state when the leaders of Hindraf failed to study or understand the background of the US as a state which celebrates institutionalized racism as a virtue and political philosophy in everything it does including its foreign policy. There may be a successful Indian, Chinese, Mexican and yes African American President. But these like that symbolic proverbial ‘single swallow do not a summer make‘.
Just for the record, Malaysia has enjoyed democratic constitutional government with all its flaws long before the US embraced that concept across racial lines. Malaysia had independent and constitutional democratic government in 1957 whilst Dr.Martin Luther King and his people were fighting for the most basic constitutionally guaranteed rights to vote, to travel and to be educated on an equal basis alongside their fellow white citizens. Their fight was a hundred times worse than May 13 and the Chinese communist insurgency put together squared. Protection against and not from the law as it were was not a guaranteed right to African Americans then as it remains the case in the US today.
The VHP has been behind some of the most vile anti Indian violence and racist policies in India and remains the well spring of non Hindu hatred in the sub-continent. How could anyone forget their vandalism in the destruction of thee Babri Masjid (a 13th century mosque built by the emperor Babur), a historic national monument? The other act of infamy of the VHP is their support for the chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modhi. Modhi is the man who masterminded the massacre of over 2000 unarmed and helpless Indians, simply because they happened to be Muslims.
Modhi has been banned from travel to many parts of the civilized world including the US because of outstanding warrants for his arrest for that crime. Yet Waytha Murthi and his band of merry men continue to court this man and his party as if they were the paragons of virtue and a virtue that Malaysia’s Indians in particular would choose to celebrate. Perhaps for the Tamils whose continued state of ignorance and backwardness this may be right and appropriate.If that is the end game then Hindraf repeats the tragic mistakes and exploitation of this community its predecessors in the MIC made in their time. Hindraf then is no alternative but a tyrannical outfit of misfits seeking to further exploit vulnerable Tamils along caste and religious lines.
Hindraf would do well to learn to negotiate and become more inclusive, a part of the mainstream process of political discourse and activity. Rather it has been back bitten by Bersh’s leader Ambiga Sreenivasan in her off the record remark on record about her policy of excluding them. Hindraf has been invited on a number of occasions to come to the negotiating table with government which it has absolutely refused to do much to its own detriment. It has instead allowed itself to be attached to the most incredulous of all opposition parties in the PKR again to its detriment. It has failed to disclose to its membership its discussions with government in London and elsewhere where Waytha Murthi was feted at government expense.
A CASTE RIDDEN PROBLEM- A SELF INFLICTED WOUND
Ambiga is Brahmin as she claims whilst the mainstream of Hindraf and Malaysian Tamils, Shudras, Motheliars, Shatrya’s Goundars and other mid to lower castes. Now herein lies the problem with the Indians the mainly Tamil Indians of Malaysia. Their continued practice and acknowledgement of the caste system is that yoke around their necks. Not Barisan, Not UMNO, Not the Malays. Tamils by and large insist on hanging on to that yoke of casteism and Tamil chauvinism, casteism being the worst known form of discrimination known to mankind. It enjoys in Hindu culture, divine sanction. Perhaps Waythamurthi would care to explain why the mainstream of Indian politics in Malaysia is so fractured with the educated supporting government, the legitimate opposition and the rest if they cared to or intimidated enough, Hindraf.
Government has not denied Hindraf a place at the main table. It has simply demanded Hindraf become part of the political mainstream. Syed Albar and Abdullah Badawi may have over acted and over played their hand lending credibility to Waythamurthi’s claims of racism. But they are not all of UMNO. These two are an anachronism and maybe part of that diversity which is the Barisan and UMNO. Lets see some democratic examples of Hindraf’s policies and its actions through a diversity of leadership and membership if it has such character and structures in place. Till then Hindraf remains a Tamil chauvinistic party to the exclusion of all others who call themselves Malaysians, culturally Hindus or Indians. If it does not and does not do so soon, Hindraf remains a rickety platform on which those who stand in the name of justice and political rights, have a self -tied noose around their weak necks waiting for the will of the people to pull that lever and relegate them into the void of political darkness.