PETALING JAYA: Indian rights group Hindraf should be admitted into Pakatan Harapan (PH) to represent the interests of the community, a former political detainee said.
R Kengadharan said while PPBM and Parti Amanah Nasional were Malay-Muslim-based parties, the multiracial parties, PKR and DAP, were led and dominated by non-Indians.
“Hindraf must be included as a political partner in the opposition coalition to be the voice of Indians. Otherwise, the community will drift from mainstream politics,” he said.
He suggested that Hindraf be allocated two parliamentary and two state seats to contest in the coming general election.
Kengadharan said this in response to Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy’s hope that PH would allow its candidates to contest in the upcoming election under the PH logo.
Waythamoorthy spoke to FMT on Saturday after launching the “Zero vote for BN” campaign during an event in Seremban to mark the 10th anniversary of its massive rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2007.
In the aftermath of the rally, five of its leaders — P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, K Vasantha Kumar, V Ganabatirau and Kengadharan — were arrested under the now repealed ISA on Dec 14, 2007. They were freed in April 2009.
Kengadharan, who is also a lawyer, said the Indians were backward in economic and bargaining power when compared to the Malays and Chinese in the peninsula.
“The Chinese are economically successful and self reliant while the interests of the Malays are taken care of by the state. We are left to fend on our own,” he said.
Kengadharan said although the MIC, representing the Indians, has been in Alliance and later the Barisan Nasional government since 1955, it had done little to uplift the economic and social status of the marginalised community.
He said Indians were an integral part of nation- building and no minority groups should be neglected.
On Aug 18, former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim also welcomed the idea of Hindraf cooperating with PH to help the opposition coalition win the coming general election.
“Everyone has to join hands to defeat BN and Hindraf has taken the first step,” he said in reference to talks between Waythamoorthy and PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The talks centred on the prospect of Hindraf becoming PH’s fifth component or an affiliate of it.