Hindraf ‘severes ties’ with Uthayakumar

Athi Shankar | April 7, 2012

The wayward political style of former ISA detainee and Hindraf spokesman P Uthayakumar is 'damaging' to efforts to assimilate poor Indians into the mainstream, says group.

GEORGE TOWN: Human Rights Party (HRP) pro-tem secretary P Uthayakumar is no longer the spokesman for Hindraf Makkal Sakthi.

Announcing the decision, Hindraf’s national secretary P Ramesh said they have ‘officially severed ties” with Uthayakumar, who was making statements that were “damaging” to its efforts to bring the Indian poor into the national mainstream of development.

“Uthayakumar is not Hindraf’s spokesman, not anymore. In past few months Uthayakumar has issued statements, which were essentially his personal views, on behalf of Hindraf.

“The movement’s is deeply concerned with these unilateral statements and actions by Uthayakumar, which were sending wrong signals to the lay public.

“As an internationally recognised human rights defender, Hindraf has disassociated with Uthayakumar’s statements and actions,” said the Perak-based Ramesh.

Ramesh’s strongly worded statement confirmed speculations of disharmony within the Hindraf leadership over Uthayakumar’s wayward political style.

Hindraf leadership and its legal advisor Uthayakumar have been at logger heads over various issues since the HRP leader was released from Kamunting Detention Centre in 2009 after being held under the Internal Securities Act.

However, Ramesh said Hindraf had kept the matter under wraps because its leadership did not want to upset the people that the movement represented.

He said Hindraf had gone along with Uthayakumar’s actions and statements, which were actually his personal views, to give due regard and respect to his sacrifices to movement and community.

However his statement on April 4, in which he called on Pakatan Rakyat to outline its policies for the ethnic Indian poor at a public meeting on April 22 in Chetty Padang, Klang, was the final straw for the Hindraf leadership.

Inappropriate call to Pakatan

Uthayakumar had said that Hindraf hoped Pakatan leaders Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Abdul Hadi Awang will spell out what they planned to do for the Indian community within 100 days of taking Putrajaya, should they win in the 13th General Election.

Ramesh said Hindraf leadership chaired by its London-based supremo Waythamoorthy who is Uthayakumar’s brother, was not informed prior to the public ultimatum to Pakatan leaders.

He said Uthayakumar made a personal call under Hindraf’s name without due consultation with the Waythamoorthy, Hindraf national coordinator W. Sambulingam, its adviser N. Ganesan or the national coordinating committee which meets every month to discusses and implements major policy matters.

“Although we welcomed the desire to get Pakatan leaders to publicly announce their first 100-day rule policy for marginalised Indians, it’s Uthayakumar personal statement.

“Moreover, Hindraf views that inviting Pakatan leaders to an open field to state their policies is inappropriate and an unbecoming method for making the point,” he said.

Ramesh cautioned that if Hindraf continued to accept Uthayakumar’s political style, it would cause serious impediments to its efforts to aid the Indian poor.

He said it would also thwart the movement’s efforts to end racist and religious supremacist policies of the current Umno-led government.

“If we do not correct this situation now, the cause for which we struggle is about to be set back.

“It is clear we have to struggle even harder to keep the boat on even keel. As with all struggles, this (distancing itself from Uthayakumar) seems to be part and parcel of our struggle. Ultimately truth will prevail and we stand on the side of the truth and justice,” said Ramesh.

Ramesh added however that Uthayakumar could remain as organisation’s legal advisor as he himself had declared the first Hindraf annual national convention in August 2010.

International status

He also appealed to Uthayakumar to return to the path of collective wisdom and to desist from issuing any statements or take any unilateral actions in the name of Hindraf without due consultation and consent of the organisation.

“Uthayakumar must realise that Hindraf has grown into a national civil rights movement with international standing and backing, ” he said.

Ramesh said Hindraf had matured from a movement comprising a few individuals to a systematic organisation acquiring international status as human rights defenders for the marginalised and poor minority in Malaysia.

“It has gained international reputation and recognition from its works raising serious human rights violations within and outside the country,” said Ramesh.

Hindraf has made representations to the Malaysian government, European governments, European Community, the USA, United Nations and many others on issues of racism and marginalisation affecting the minority community, ethnic Indians.

Hindraf’s efforts have increased pressure on Putrajaya administration to bring about fundamental changes in its policies.

“We have a serious responsibility and we need commensurate credibility.

“Poorly conceived actions and positions do great damage to the cause,” said Ramesh.

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