No need to rely on ethnic leaders to champion cause, ex-Hindraf man tells Indians

Former Hindraf leader R Kengadharan.

PETALING JAYA: Indians should no longer rely on their ethnic MPs and ministers to advance their political and economic interests in new Malaysia, a former Hindraf leader said.

R Kengadharan said the government of the day should look into empowering the marginalised Indians on the need-based political concept like eradicating poverty and providing better education opportunities.

“The government through its MPs and ministers can draw up programmes and implement policies for the poor Indian community. It need not rely on race-based political parties and leaders for feedback,” he said

Kengadharan said this in response to Hindraf 2.0 leader P Uthayakumar’s call to the Election Commission to create seven Indian-majority parliamentary seats to ensure the community has a strong voice in Parliament.

Kengadharan was one of the five Hindraf leaders who were held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 2007 for holding a rally to protest against alleged discriminatory policies under the then Barisan Nasional government which favoured ethnic Malays.

At a rally organised by the group yesterday, Uthayakumar, also one of five former ISA detainees, said they were dissatisfied that “racist and supremacist” policies, which had affected Indians for the past 62 years, were being continued under Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Hindraf 2.0 is a different organisation from Hindraf, which was led by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy.

Uthayakumar said the problem was that the Indian community did not have a strong voice in Parliament and the Indian PH MPs did not have “real power” as their election was dependent on votes from the Malays and Chinese.

Kengadharan said creating constituencies for marginalised groups was workable only in India as their constitution provided for it.

“In Malaysia, we have to work with an established political framework. Since 1952, Umno shared power with MIC and MCA but it turned later into a master-servant relationship,” he said.

He said that during the past year, there had been “a wave of political momentum” that suggested the PH government was sensitive to the needs of the people.

“Give them more time as they have only replaced a government that has been in power continuously for more than 60 years,” he said.

Kengadahran said the Indians must also lead the way to abolish race-based parties to champion their respective communities.

“In PH, the Chinese and Indians are relying on the multi-racial PKR and DAP. The day could also come when the Malays and Bumiputera need no longer depend on their ethnic leaders to champion their cause,” he said.