Hindraf withdraws support for ABU

Tarani Palani | January 25, 2012

But its national coordinators say they will continue to work with the movement.

PETALING JAYA: The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has withdrawn its support for the “Anything But Umno” (ABU) movement and has advised members against attending ABU events.

In a statement today, Hindraf supreme council member, S Jayathas, said that the decision was reached following an emergency meeting of the five-member Hindraf supreme council chaired by de facto leader P Uthayakumar (photo).

Hindraf said that it was not siding with any party but will fight against racism directed against the Indians.

“Hindraf does not support ABU, but supports ‘ABUR’ (Anything But Umno and Pakatan Rakyat Racism),” said Jayathas.

“Hindraf will not allow ABU, Bersih (election watchdog), Pakatan or any other party to make use of Hindraf for their personal agenda,” he added.

This statement comes in the wake of an incident last Saturday when an event jointly organised by ABU and Hindraf in Jalan Kebun, Klang, was disrupted by alleged Umno supporters.

In the fracas that ensued, one Hindraf supporter was injured. Participants said that racist slurs were hurled against the Indians present at the event.

Hindraf added that the decision (to withdraw support for ABU) was arrived following a video clip of the alledged assault.

Subsequently, Hindraf has been receiving numerous phone calls regarding the incident.

No public condemnation

Turning to the Pakatan, Hindraf said the coalition did not provide sufficient “security” for the Hindraf members at the event.

“(The fracas) was silently watched over by PAS, PKR, and ABU leaders who were seated on the stage and there was no public condemnation of the interruption,” it added.

Following the incident, ABU has filed a police report yesterday.

Hindraf also said that it will only support Pakatan in the upcoming general election when the alliance officially endorses in writing Hindraf’s 18-point demand and give its word that it will implement all the demands when it comes to power.

The demands call for an end to institutionalised racism targeting poor Indians.

Hindraf added that it will continue to speak up for the Indian poor without fear or favour, whether it is against the BN government or Pakatan.

Jayathas’ statement, however, does not seem to have the full support of other Hindraf leaders, with several national coordinators stating that they would continue to work with ABU.

Clash within Hindraf?

National coordinator N Ganesan said Hindraf would continue to engage with ABU.

“The committee that met this morning was the Human Rights Party (HRP) which is the political wing of Hindraf. Hindraf is the overarching movement. It has a set of national coordinators with HRP selected to contest in parliamentary constituencies,” he told FMT.

Ganesan added that Hindraf decided during its national convention on Dec 4 that it will engage with any group which shares overlapping interests with it.

ABU, he said, had two overlapping interests with Hindraf, which is to campaign against Umno and that the 222 parliamentary seats do not solely belong to the three main Pakatan coalition members but to a larger Pakatan coalition consisting of political groups which support Pakatan.

“On ABU’s stand, some of these seats will fall back to HRP. That is why we will continue to engage them,” he said.

“We need to open up and think bigger and in bolder terms. But Uthayakumar has his concerns, that are his concerns,” he added.

Meanwhile, ABU coordinator Haris Ibrahim told FMT that there was no reason for concern over the supposed Hindraf pullout.

“Hindraf national coordinator W Sambulingam was there during the event last Saturday. He was there at ABU central committee meeting yesterday. He was there when we filed a police report yesterday and he was with us this morning when we filed a report with Suhakam (photo),” he said.

Haris also said that Hindraf pro-tem chairman P Waythamoorthy had recently “clearly articulated support” for ABU.

“So I see no need for concern when the actions of the national cordinator and chairman are in tandem (to support ABU),” he said.

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