Waythamoorthy pledges to champion the causes of all marginalised minority groups.
He said his group would lend its full support to the human rights claims of such communities as the Orang Asli of the peninsula, the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and Eurasians.
“Although our primary focus remains on marginalised working class ethnic Indians, Hindraf would not just sit back and watch human rights violations on these marginalised minority groups,” he told FMT today.
“We will also champion their causes to ensure that all minority groups are granted their birth right to live with equality in rights and dignity.
“We will fight to ensure that all marginalised, sidelined and isolated groups are included equally in nation building.”
Waythamoorthy, who returned to Malaysia on Aug 1 after over four years of self-imposed exile in Britain, alleged that violations of human rights in Malaysia were now worse than they were during the colonial period.
He cited the known cases of deaths in police custody, saying if any these had happened during the colonial days, the British administrators would have swiftly carried out an investigation and punished the culprits.
In contemporary Malaysia, however, the authorities would typically drag their feet before finally agreeing to an inquest, he said. Even if an inquest were to be held, it would be conducted by an inexperienced magistrate, he added.
Waythamoorthy also spoke about the displacement of estate workers without compensation in cash and alternative housing, saying this was a form of human rights violation that mostly affected Indians.
Displaced estate workers
He said a recent Hindraf study revealed that some 800,000 estate workers had been displaced over the years.
“These workers were abandoned and left stranded when giant companies took over the plantations.”
He said the poor treatment of estate workers was in stark contrast with the coddling of mostly Malay settlers in the Felda and Felcra rural development schemes.
“The first and foremost human right is the right to live with equality in rights and dignity,” he said.
“Why can’t the Umno government implement a permanent policy like Felda and Felcra to assist displaced Indian estate workers?
“It’s clear that the Putrajaya administration does not take human rights seriously.”
He said Hindraf would also campaign for equal representation of minority groups in Parliament and state legislatures.
“We want constituencies to be set aside solely for the marginalised minority communities to contest and elect their representatives,” he said. “This happens in many democracy-based countries.
“This would give them a strong voice in the government’s decision making process and in nation building.”