But the opposition coalition must first endorse Hindraf’s blueprint on alleviating the Indian community’s problems.
PETALING JAYA: Hindraf has offered Pakatan Rakyat “thousands of volunteers” which it says is crucial for the opposition pact to overthrow Barisan nasional in the upcoming general election.
The ‘carrot’ however comes with a catch.
Pakatan must endorse the group’s six-point blueprint to “bring the Indian marginalized and poor into the mainstream of National Development”, said Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy.
“We are no doubt willing to make Pakatan’s dream to capture Putrajaya a reality but we have a dream too – we dream to find a permanent solution to the problems of the Indian poor and marginalized.
“Hence it is crucial that Pakatan endorses the Hindraf Blueprint which encompassed this dream before we activate thousands of our volunteers to go nationwide to campaign for Pakatan,” Waythamoorthy said in a statement yesterday.
The movement had previously said that it would support any political organisation that would agree in writing to adopt the blueprint, which recommends a five-year programme aimed at the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community.
The six points of the blueprint are:
1) Stop displacing Indian plantation workers and provide reasonable compensation as well as offer skills training to them;
2) Resolve Indian stateless issue;
3) Provide equal education opportunities to all Indian students via meritocracy;
4) Provide equal job and business opportunities to Indians;
5) Stop police brutality and death in custody, and set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC); and
6) Stop institutionalised racism and ratify United Nations convention against racial discrimination.
But the blueprint appears to have been largely ignored by parties from both sides of the divide since it was launched on Nov 25 last year.
Thus far only Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), a Pakatan-leaning party, has announced its support for the six demands.
“It is in the interest of PR (Pakatan) to sign the blueprint soonest rather than hoping that Hindraf would compromise on its Blueprint program at the last minute,” said Waythamoorthy.
“We are ready to activate our machinery and start joint campaigns with Pakatan the moment there is a signed agreement,” he added.
Indians on the fence
Waythamoorthy added that almost 50% of Indian voters were still undecided on whom to cast their ballots for, and said this was because Hindraf had not declared its support for any party.
“Hindraf is not a political party which has to make empty promises just so it can be popular. We are a peoples’ movement desiring to bring about political changes for the benefit of the people. .
“We seek permanent solutions and practical solutions to the problems that have plagued the Indian community for almost 150 years,” he said.
It is common knowledge that Hindraf was one of the major factors for Barisan Nasional’s historic loss of its two thirds majority in the 2008 general election.
In 2007, Hindraf led an estimated 20,000 Indians to the city’s capital to protest against Barisan Nasional’s treatment of the Indian community during Abdullah Badawi’s administration.
But since Najib Tun Razak took over the government’s reigns in 2009, his direct and recurring engagement with the Indian community appear to have borne fruit among the country’s minority, which form 1.8 million out of the 28 million population in Malaysia.
The government’s lifting of the four-year ban on Hindraf on the eve of Thaipusam is also seen as a strategic move to placate the community in the run up to the general election, which must be held by June this year.
Earlier this week, Najib rolled out a list of pro-Indian policies before a cheering crowd of tens of thousands of Indians, including the pledge to increase Indians’ economic equity in the country to 3%.
Hindraf will also decide this month whether to hold talks with Najib to find permanent solutions to the socio-economic problems plaguing Indians.
Meanwhile, sources have told FMT that many of Hindraf’s grassroots members are dissatisfied with the performance of Pakatan state governments in championing the cause of marginalized working class Indians.
But opposition members have consistently highlighted the issue of stateless Indians in the country, which they claim number to 300,000, and have lead numerous protests on the issue.
The rising cases of Indians dying or beaten up in police custody, the most recent being C Sugumaran, also threaten to undermine Najib’s efforts to win back the Indian community.