FMT LETTER: from R Thuraisingam, via e-mail
From the mighty Hindraf gathering of about 100,000 people in 2007 to an odd assortment of old folk and bussed in students making up the 1,000 people at the recent Indraf gathering in 2012, it seems that ‘H’ does make a difference. This aside, much has changed since 2007. However, the fundamental motivation of both these events clearly shows that fighting in 2007 for the right of Hindus to worship and fighting for Anwar to be PM in 2012 drastically affects the number of Indians supporting each event.
The so-called non-political Indian leaders showcasing themselves at the small self-indulgent Indraf gathering on May 27, 2012 were Haji Thasleem, R Kengadharan and V Ganabatirau. Thasleem has only ever played a role in getting the government to ban a book, Interlok, from schools which he felt teachers would not be able to teach without Indian students being emotionally affected.
After manually amending the book, freshly reprinting the book after many many changes were made, the Cabinet decided to withdraw the book from schools long after Thasleem had abandoned the issue to pursue grander aims. Even when the book was withdrawn, he had to compete with that other champion, ‘Talappa’ Rajaretinam over who really deserved credit for getting a book banned.
The two had fought over NIAT or the National Interlok Action Team ending with Rajaretinam accusing Thasleem of refusing to dissolve NIAT to further his selfish personal agenda and gain cheap political mileage. He claimed this was also evident when Thasleem announced that he is joining DAP using the NIAT platform.
What Thasleem did before getting books banned was somewhat different. His company TMI Nusantara, which Thasleem obtained full control of in 2000, was a top project management consultant (PMC) that were given huge BN Government contracts to manage. This list of BN projects included the Bukit Jalil sports complex, Perak SEDC and the International Islamic University.
Proving that he is nothing but sly, Thasleem was happy to be a pure Bumiputera at that point as it helped him obtain consultancy incomes that he would never have dreamed of before. Needless to say that at that point just a few years ago, he had not yet discovered his ‘Indianness’. Nowadays, as clearly seen at the Indraf gathering on May 27, Thasleem seems to have fully discovered his Indianness and abandoned his Muslim robes in favour of a more Indian Kurta.
This aside, the most interesting project was the construction of the AIMST University, the brainchild of former MIC president, S Samy Vellu. The construction of this project was estimated and recorded in black and white to be RM230 million. This staggering sum was what it would cost for Samy Vellu to build his legacy of erecting a physical monument to his focus on educating Indians.
Under Thasleem’s leadership as overall Project Manager, the cost of building AIMST University ballooned by more than 200% to RM495 million. As the lead consultant, Thasleem personally oversaw and approved this increase in the ‘cost’ of the project by RM265 million. Samy Vellu then had to solve the problem of raising RM265 million as Thasleem had convinced him that the millions more were critically needed.
Because of this, there were many police reports lodged by Indians alleging financial mismanagement and misappropriation as well as on irregularities relating to the awarding of contracts. These allegations relating to the major cost increases led Bukit Aman Commercial Crime division director Koh Hong Sun to investigate.
As we all know, Samy Vellu then turned to the Indian community to raise this RM265 million. Each MIC branch, led by usually working class branch chairman, were instructed to raise RM11,000 each otherwise their branch renewals would be rejected. Samy also went direct to the community to raise money, collecting as little as RM1 from the man on the street to hundreds of thousands from corporate figures. Even the BN government stepped in to contribute RM300 million of the total cost of RM495 million.
Thasleem’s fees alone for the project, as overall Project Manager, estimated at a conservative 1% of development cost, also skyrocketed from RM2.3 million to RM5 million. Given his experience, Thasleem would have also made millions from unscrupulous contractors bidding for sub-contracts. Thasleem is purported to have pocketed between RM21 million to RM28.5 million from this project alone.
Please remember that the money he was paid and that he pocketed was collected by Samy Vellu from poor Indians throughout the country. When Thasleem had obtained all he could from AIMST, and when he could no longer compete for projects, he was angry and this is exactly when he decided to go against the BN.
Without shame, he tells tall tales about how he gives thousands to Tamil schools in Perak but he conveniently chose to forget the millions that he squeezed out of the Indian community from the building of the AIMST University alone. This millions that the Indians gave, be it MIC or non-MIC members are not plucked from trees but hard earned money of those people.
If he is true to his religion, as he proudly claims to be, then the first thing he needs to ask himself is whether he is sincere and is free of any baggage before blatantly accusing others in his desperate attempt to become a champion of the Indians.
The other two Indraf opportunists are cut from a different cloth, or so most Indians believed before the Indraf gathering. They were arrested under the ISA and went to jail with three other compatriots. They were educated middle-class professionals who took a stand against the then Abdullah administration and they were lionised by the Indian community.
That was five long years ago. At the recent Indraf gathering, they allowed themselves to be manipulated by Anwar’s divide and rule, and publicly denounced their comrade-in-arms, P Uthayakumar, calling him crazy and deluded in the process. From being two men fighting for temples, they selfishly became two men fighting for their personal place in the limelight.
Anwar correctly calculated that these two were intoxicated by their 2007 popularity and knew they could not live without the publicity, without being on stage and in the limelight. Anwar, as ever, was always ready to just provide the setting.
These two former heroes were happy for Anwar to completely ignore their 10-point demands. It should be noted that Kenga and Gana had already agreed to Anwar’s demands to water down Hindraf’s original 18-point demands so that Anwar would be more comfortable sharing the stage with them.
This is the same way Anwar had repeatedly ignored Uthayakumar’s two recent invitations to come and speak to the Indian community in Klang and explain in detail what specific plans he has for Indians. Anwar did not come because he does not have any plans to address the Indian community’s challenges.
Kenga and Gana even completely ignored their other Hindraf compratriot, M Manogaran, who was conspicuously missing from the event. R Kengadharan and V Ganabatirau danced with Anwar on stage, so we all know the writing is on the wall, they will continue to dance to Anwar’s tune until Anwar can no longer offer them a high-profile stage. At this point, they will probably go groveling to BN as they have in the past.
From knowing the true hearts and minds of the these three latest champions; Thasleem, Kengadharan and Ganabatirau, my question is where will the Indian community be heading towards without Indian leaders who have courage and conviction and who have only the interests of the Indian community truly and firmly lodged in their hearts…?