FMT LETTER: From Ragunath Elangkovan, via e-mail
Although far from perfect and definitely a work in progress, Malaysia’s political landscape is definitely evolving from a dominant one-party rule to a genuine two-party democracy. Since the watershed election of March 2008, we have witnessed the political maturing of Malaysia which has embraced the need for a strong Opposition which acts as an effective check and balance on the government.
Furthermore, there is a genuine feeling that the Opposition could make further gains in the upcoming general election and this serves to keep the government on their toes. We may be far from the finished article, but with every passing year I’m more hopeful we will reach there within my lifetime, which was not so conceivable before.
However, it is sad that with all that the Opposition has tried to do to bring about a more mature political landscape, there are still the idiotic few who insist on practicing an outdated and irrelevant form of politics. Chief among these groups are Ibrahim Ali’s Perkasa and the Human Rights Party (HRP) of Malaysia.
Carefully rehearsed histrionics is the only way to describe the political methods of the HRP which is what the Hindraf movement has evolved into. Taking a leaf out of Perkasa’s playbook, sensationalism is the only way HRP think they will be seen or heard and so they resort to ridiculous ways to be noticed.
Who can forget the billion pound lawsuit they brought against the British monarchy for first introducing Indian indentured labourers to Malaysia. By seeking reparations and an apology from the UK (and if they had won, all Malaysian Indians would have become instant millionaires) Hindraf ensured they will be featured in newspapers and online news websites the world over. What they seemed to have overlooked is that it was in the “funny news” section. They were little more than a joke.
Their next initiative was to highlight the issue of stateless Indians in Malaysia. Even in this instance, they took a serious issue and managed to sensationalise it by claiming that the number of stateless Indians in Malaysia was well over 450,000.
This undermined the serious efforts that were being taken to highlight and address this issue by Pakatan Rakyat. My only criticism of Pakatan is that they allowed themselves to be swayed by those magic numbers and subsequently used them as the gospel during their political speeches.
Initially, Hindraf’s mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of Indians for a rally resulted in a massive 80% swing in Indian votes from BN, and MIC in particular, to Pakatan in the 2008 elections.
Perhaps owing to this, Pakatan were indebted to HRP. However, it became clear to everyone that HRP is not aligned to either side as evidenced by its constant attacks on PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim as well as Pakatan Rakyat as a whole.
People and parties like HRP are so myopic that they cannot see a helping hand when one is offered. They prefer to believe that the whole world is against them and they believe this inward looking policy helps them stay strong. Instead of working with the Pakatan leadership to overcome issues that are central to Indians in Malaysia, HRP prefers to believe that both Pakatan and the BN are against them.
They prefer to shout for all their 18 demands to be met while refusing to believe Pakatan sincerely cares about the welfare of all Malaysians. Knowing this, the HRP should be cooperating with Pakatan rather than alienating them. This “all or nothing” attitude has definitely cost the HRP a loss in support. This is why despite all the hype and their public attempts to smear Anwar, they only manage to gather 100 odd people to their gatherings nowadays.
Typically HRP regard everyone with suspicion and launch unnecessary attacks against both the BN and Pakatan which leaves everyone wondering which side they really stand for.
Just as we justifiably criticise BN for their apparent tolerance of Perkasa, Pakatan should never work with the racists in the HRP/Hindraf. They keep on making up the facts and making ultra-racists statement which no one takes seriously.
In a politically maturing Malaysia less and less people subscribe to the sensationalist policies and histrionics of movements like HRP and Perkasa. It may be entertaining to listen to the speeches made by their leaders or to read of the latest demands and police reports in the news, but this can never translate into real and tangible support in the way the first Hindraf rally did.