Waytha to return home from London exile

Joe Fernandez | April 24, 2012
The Hindraf supremo plans to hand over reins of the movement on Nov 25 in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Kelantan-born Hindraf Makkal Sakthi supremo P Waythamoorthy will return home from political asylum in London and hand over the reins of his controversial movement on Nov 25 in Kuala Lumpur.
The likely venue is the Chinese Assembly Hall.
“Hindraf, at the end of the day, does not belong to me or my brother Uthayakumar – Hindraf’s legal adviser – as people are fond of saying,” Waythamoorthy, Hindraf chairman, said in a telephone call this afternoon from exile in London.
“It’s a people’s movement. It’s time for us to move on.”
However, he added that he was not quitting the leadership of Hindraf but handing it over.
He said he doesn’t want to use the word “quit” since “it may carry some negative connotations”.
The planned handover will take place during the Hindraf national convention to be held on that date in Kuala Lumpur.
Hindraf stands for Hindu Rights Action Force. Makkal Sakthi – people power in Tamil – is the movement’s battle-cry which helped unleash the political tsunami in 2008.
The handover date also marks the fifth anniversary of the “Indian uprising” masterminded by Waythamoorthy and Uthayakumar when about thousands of people poured onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
The occasion coincided with the handover of a memorandum to the British High Commission. The memorandum, addressed to Queen Elizabeth, sought legal aid from London for a class action suit – still “a work in progress” – against the British and Malaysian governments.
‘I am definitely handing over’
Waythamoorthy said that he doesn’t want to speak on behalf of his brother but added that “there’s a real possibility that Uthayakumar won’t have any role in Hindraf whatsoever once I am no longer holding the reins”.
“However, it will be entirely up to him if he wants to continue to offer his services to the movement,” he said. “ He may want to continue as its legal adviser.”
Uthayakumar sometimes filled in as the movement’s de facto chief, given his younger brother’s absence, especially during his frequent trips around the world to drum up international support against the Umno government.
Uthayakumar could not be immediately contacted.
Asked who will take over Hindraf, he said “hasn’t the faintest idea”.
“The leadership issue will be determined during the Hindraf national convention,” Waythamoorthy said.
“The movement will throw up new leaders from among the people. We don’t know who is out there. We – Uthayakumar and Waythamoorthy – have been around long enough.”
He also said that the possibility that the movement’s delegates might urge him to stay on “hasn’t crossed his mind”.
“I am definitely handing over,” he said. “This is not a sandiwara. I am saying what I mean and I mean what I say.”
“I don’t want to overstay my welcome. It’s better I go now rather than leave at a time when people can’t wait to see me go.”
UN-sanctioned travel
However, he said he may be persuaded to consider some sort of advisory role in Hindraf if offered.
Waythamoorthy denied that his return had anything to do with the forthcoming 13th general election.
“We want to focus on the handover. We are not into politics,” he said.
Waythamoorthy does not have a Malaysian passport at the moment but plans to return home regardless.
At present, he travels on a United Nations-sanctioned travel document issued by the British government. The document gives him the right to travel to any country in the world, except Malaysia.
“I will return home with or without a passport,” he said. “If the Malaysian government gives me a valid passport, I may return home before Nov 25.”
Waythamoorthy’s international passport was cancelled by the government just before he flew into Britain on April 21, 2008, from Geneva where he briefed the UN Human Rights Commissioner on Malaysia.
His passport was seized by British Immigration as it had been blacklisted in the system and throughout Europe.
He was detained at Gatwick Airport for several hours but was allowed to enter London temporarily for three days after Immigration found only human rights materials on him and no “terrorist literature” as they had initially been led to believe.
He was allowed to apply for political asylum after three days on the grounds of being a human rights advocate, and succeeded in winning his present legal status within two months.

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