P Waythamoorhy has given a new lease of life to Hindraf’s struggles and has brought fresh hopes for the banned movement.
Unexpectedly, Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy has returned home safely without any hurdles after his self exiled stay in London for more than four years. There were expectations that the government may arrest and charge him for some offences.
But it has become clear now that the Barisan Nasional government, going through adverse response from the Indian community over the S Ambiga issue, has refrained from creating another storm with regard to Waythamoorthy in view of the forthcoming GE-13.
However, the isnpector-general of police said that the police would keep a close watch on his activities.
Since arriving in Malaysia through Singapore, Waythamoorthy has been on a busy schedule with a hive of activities attending functions and temple prayers. The Tamil papers are running adverts listing out functions scheduled to be attended by him.
Crowds are gathering at his functions to give him a heroic reception and to hail him for his sacrifices for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community.
Waythamoorthy has also made a couple of important statements in the process. He said he would not form a political party and would not contest in the forthcoming general election.
His fight would focus only on the rights and benefits for the Indian community and he vowed to extract the maximum for the Indian community from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. He is also determined to carry out his battle through Hindraf, as a non-governmental body.
While attending a grand reception in Klang on Aug 5, Waythamoorthy announced that he would fight for the ex-Bukit Jalil estate workers, an issue which has been dragging for years.
In Ipoh, he declared that he is not interested in seeing who forms the next government or what political positions would be given to the Indians but more importantly he would focus on the rights to be accorded to the Indians in this country.
Suddenly, Waythamoorthy has changed the rules of the game and dwarfed many existing Indian political leaders. His statements and speeches are more matured and calculated without hurting any political parties or groupings.
He stated that he would find solutions to the problems of Indians from both BN and Pakatan governments. The Tamil media have been carrying full reports about his functions and speeches, inevitably reviving the old spirit of Hindraf.
That brings us to the next question, whether he would play an active role in the forthcoming general election as it is becoming clearer that he would be able to swing a sizable number of Indian voters if he takes a decisive stand.
Politically divided brothers
Surprisingly, there was not a single statement from Waythamoorthy’s brother Uthayakumar on the arrival of Waythamoorthy or his subsequent actions, which indicates that the brothers may have chosen different political paths and are not in tandem.
In one of the functions, Waythamoorthy also declared that there is no animosity with his brother and that in any large organisation there would be differences of opinion.
Waythamoorthy also avoided a question on the Human Rights Party (HRP) stating that the question should be forwarded to Uthayakumar as he is the one heading the political party.
Waythamoorthy has been consistently saying that he would not join HRP or any other political parties and that he would also not form one.
Although the brothers may have chosen different political ideologies today, no one can deny that the brothers were instrumental in bringing the much needed political changes in Malaysia and they must be credited for their bravery in initiating the Hindraf rally in 2007 despite police retaliation.
Without doubt that rally paved the way for the opposition to ride on it with impressive performance in GE-12.
However, since his release from ISA detention, Uthayakumar has not been able to revive the old spirit of Hindraf and the disunity among the key leaders of Hindraf further caused much damage to the movement.
Uthayakumar took a political role by forming HRP, which is yet to obtain its official registration from the authorities. Through his brash style of politics, he has annoyed other political parties and
leaders at a time when he should be attempting to forge a close and cordial relationship with others to play an effective role in the forthcoming general election.
In that respect, Waythamoorhy has given a new lease of life to Hindraf’s struggles and has brought fresh hopes for the banned movement. He is now seen as the unifying force for the Hindraf enthusiasts and supporters.
Within a short span of time, he has created the much needed political awareness among Indians by speaking at several places and the Tamil newspapers are also courting him, reporting all his speeches and statements.
By the time GE-13 takes place, judging by his pace of actions, Waythamoorthy would be able to cover the length and breadth of Penisular Malaysia, reviving the spirit of Hindraf and thereby unifying and crystallising the movement’s supporters.
During GE-13, if Waythamoorthy decides to take a political stand by supporting either BN or Pakatan that would drastically change the Indian voters equation and would eventually decide the fate of several parliament and state assembly constituencies.
RJ Rajah is an observer and writer on politics and social issues with a keen interest particularly in Malaysian Indian affairs.