It says Pakatan state governments should first meet the demands in the memorandum to be submitted to Putrajaya at the conclusion of the proposed May 27 rally.
KUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf has decided to stay out of the rally dubbed Indraf 2.0, saying it would not endorse the distillation of its demands into the 10 points that the rally organisers intend to submit to the federal government at the end of the May 27 march.
“Hindraf still sticks to its original plan of asking the government to implement the 18-point demands raised during the 2007 protest,” the organisation’s national coordinator, W Sambulingam, told FMT.
“If we participate in the upcoming rally, then all the struggles since 2007 will become meaningless,” he added.
The 18 demands for action to improve the lot of Malaysian Indians were the subject of the massive Hindraf rally of Nov 25, 2007, which many observers believe played a major role in the unprecedented opposition victories in the 2008 general election. The 18 points have been summarised to 10 by the Indraf 2.0 organisers.
Indraf, which stands for Indian Rights Action Force, is a project of the NGO Malaysian Indian Voice (MIV). Spearheading the rally are Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) P Ramasamy, NIAT president Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim and former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees V Ganabatirao and R Kengadharan, both incarcerated for their activism as Hindraf members. Ganabatirao is also the president of MIV.
Sambulingam said it would be better for Ramasamy to use his influence in Pakatan Rakyat to ensure that the Pakatan-ruled states meet Indraf’s 10 demands first before asking Barisan Nasional to do so.
“The time has come for Pakatan to emphasise how it is going to cater to the community instead of demanding the BN to implement the 10-point resolution,” he said.
“We are not taking BN’s side, but the Indian community should understand that the current political scenario is different from 2007. ” he added.
“In 2007, Pakatan had not even been formed yet; so naturally we could only take our demands to BN.
“But now, Pakatan controls a few states and it has one Indian as deputy chief minister, two as state executive councillors and nine as members of parliament.”
‘18 points intact’
Contacted later, Ganabatirao rejected the insinuation that MIV was attempting to water down Hindraf’s struggle.
Referring to the 18 demands, he said they were in fact drafted by Kengadharan, who is a lawyer.
“However, MIV decided to shorten the 18 demands into a 10-point resolution,” he said, adding that all the original 18 points were intact. “This is a more reasonable way to approach the government.”
He also noted that the 10 points were tabled last year in Shah Alam at a gathering of Indians. He claimed that 10,000 people attended the gathering and that they adopted the resolution unanimously.
Thasleem, in a separate interview, said that Indraf was independent of Pakatan.
“Our protest is not against BN, but the federal government,” he said, adding that Indraf would not hesitate to protest against Pakatan if it were to capture Putrajaya and ignore the plight of Indians.
He said he had already submitted a memorandum to both BN and Pakatan, urging them to respect the resolution.
“However, only Pakatan responded to our voice,” he said.
He said he sent the memorandum to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and he pledged to ensure that Indians get their fundamental rights to education, employment and economic and social welfare if Pakatan wins in the coming election.
Thasleem also said no single person or group of Indians could claim ownership of Hindraf.
“Hindraf belongs to every Indian in Malaysia who took part in the 2007 protest,” he said.