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Hindraf: Pakatan manifesto a big letdown

 | February 27, 2013

Election pledges completely ignores Indians and even Anwar’s pledge to resolve the 350,000 stateless Indians issue within 100 days is not mentioned, says Waythamoorthy

GEORGE TOWN: Pakatan Rakyat election manifesto has sidelined, isolated and marginalised the already much maligned ethnic Indian community, charged Hindraf Makkal Sakti today.

Its supremo, P Waythamoorthy, accused Pakatan of completely ignoring the needs and interests of the Indian community in its election pledges.

He summed up Pakatan’s so-called people’s manifesto as one that has disappointed Indian Malaysians and does not value the community’s support or needs.

“In one stroke, the manifesto has said so many things that disappointed us. It is deeply distressing, not so much by what it says, but by what it does not say.

“It failed to even acknowledge, let alone recognise, the community’s longstanding woes,” the Hindraf chairman said in a statement.

In recent talks with Pakatan leaders, especially PKR, he said they failed to take note that Hindraf had been diligently working with them to bring solutions for these serious problems.

When questioned on this, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said that Pakatan’s manifesto transcends racial groups as well as subgroups including the Indian community.

“If this was the case, how does Anwar justify specific pledges to the Malays, Chinese, Orang Asals, Sabah and Sarawakians, the ex-armed forces and Felda settlers in the manifesto?

“The provisions there do not seem to transcend racial groups and subgroups,” said Waythamoorthy.

“Enough has been said of Pakatan moving away from racial politics but that is more a statement of its intent than the frame for its policies.

“Pakatan has been using this once too often as a cover to ignore the problems of the Indian poor and marginalised.

“That should leave anyone with a strong liberal and democratic conscience, disturbed,” added Waythamoorthy.

He said that it was time to address the Indian problem permanently, to eliminate its root cause – the institutional discrimination – and bring back the almost 1.3 million poor and working class Indians into the mainstream of economic development.

He cited an independent study from the Centre for Policy Studies concluded in 2000 that 600,000 estate workers have been forcibly displaced in the country.

Pakatan taking the same path

He added that Hindraf estimated the figure had reached at 800,000 now.

“This massive forced displacement is a direct result of state development programmes operating in the milieu of institutional racism,” said Waythamoorthy.

By ignoring the problem with the “transcends race argument” and the acceptance of serious violation of human rights, he accused Pakatan of taking the same Umno-led BN path.

He pinpointed that Anwar’s pledge to resolve the 350,000 stateless Malaysian Indians issue within 100 days “found no mention in the manifesto”.

In its various meetings and communications, he said Hindraf had stressed to Anwar and Pakatan allies the need for a targeted and pointed programme to address this serious accumulated problem arising from all the human rights violations of the past 56 years.

He said Hindraf’s proposals were stipulated in its five-year blueprint for the Indian community submitted to all Pakatan parties – PKR, DAP and PAS.

He said the blueprint sought to address issues of institutional discrimination and equal rights of land procurement for economic purposes, equal business opportunities which included business loans, permits and educational opportunities.

He said the annual budget required to fully implement the blueprint was a mere RM4.5 billion or 1.8% of the 2013 annual national budget.

This sum, he insisted, was a reinvestment on human capital to stimulate progress and development in lives of marginalised people.

“Our proposed solutions are permanent, practical and comprehensive. Pakatan confirmed verbally that it was in principle agreeable with the blueprint,” said Waythamoorthy.

He noted that Pakatan not only failed to give a single pledge in its manifesto to address any of the Indian problems, but it also did not formally endorse the blueprint.

Even though Hindraf recognised that it was Pakatan’s prerogative, he said the movement was more concerned with “loss of a historic opportunity to get the process of change rolling”.

Kingmakers sidelined

Meanwhile, Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (Mipas) secretary-general S Bharatidasan asked why Indians were left out in Pakatan’s latest manifesto.

“Remember that we are kingmakers in several seats and a majority of us supported Pakatan in the 2008 general election,” he said.

Bharatidasan demanded the opposition pact prepare specific allocations and programmes for Indians, as the community is still lagging in many fields.

“We also demand Indians be given seven ministers and eight deputy ministers’ posts should Pakatan form the next federal government,” said Bharatidasan.


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