Hindraf re-files suit to highlight plight of Indians

Mariam Mokhtar | July 4, 2012
Its supremo P Waytha Moorthy is suing the British government for abandoning the Indians when Malaya gained independence in 1957.
LONDON Hindraf supremo P Waytha Moorthy has re-filed a lawsuit at the Royal Courts of Justice here, on July 2, to sue the British government for abandoning the Indians when Malaya gained independence in 1957.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2007 on the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence.
The exiled lawyer said, “This case is about restoring the lost dignity of the Malaysian Indians, who were brought into Malaya, as indentured labourers, by the British.
“Many of our forefathers did not know what they were getting into. They were illiterate, poor and vulnerable. Inhumane methods were sometimes used to transport people to Malaya, where the British had promised a new life in ‘paradise’. Children were kidnapped. Village heads were cheated or bribed, into sending men to the ships. False promises of pilgrimage were also made”.
During his self-imposed exile, Waytha Moorthy has compiled historical documents and traversed the globe, to garner support, for his cause.
“I do not wish to embarrass the Malaysian and British governments with the documentary proof that I have gathered. The collusion and intention to deny the other minority communities their fundamental rights were obvious.
“By the time Malaya achieved independence, up to three generations of Indians had been settled in the plantations. The children who were born in Malaya knew nothing about India. They considered Malaya, their only home. When Malaya was granted independence, the British conveniently forgot about their original promise to the Indians.”
Explaining the reasons for his lawsuit, he said: “My action is to bring attention to the world that we are a permanently colonised community. When India achieved independence, the country and its people were free. In Malaysia, the country and the Malays were free but we the Indians remain colonised by the neo-colonialist – the Malay ultras.”
Historical wrongs
The lawsuit is expected to be lengthy, possibly taking three to five years, with complex legal and constitutional questions to be raised.
Waytha Moorthy said that Hindraf “does not have the locus standi to take this action,” and added, “This is my initiative on behalf of descendants of indentured labourers.”
Hindraf, the NGO which is striving for equal rights for Malaysian Indians, is banned in Malaysia. Despite a warrant of arrest for him, Waytha Moorthy has resolved to return to Malaysia in the near future, to continue his struggle. In his absence, a legal team has been engaged, to continue his case, in England.
“It is time to correct historical wrongs. An independent commission should be formed, to review fundamental rights provisions in the constitution, and make amendments. There is no point blaming previous politicians,” he said.
In May 2012, the Royal Courts of Justice saw another landmark Malaysian case when the remaining survivors of the Batang Kali massacre of 1948 successfully held a hearing for the British government to hold an inquest into the unlawful killings.
Surrounded by his supporters outside court, Waytha Moorthy said: “By filing the case, I hope the world would recognise the entrenched apartheid-like provisions in the constitution. These racist provisions should be dismantled. Also, Britain should apologise for its colonial wrongs committed against the Indian community.”
One well-wisher said, “As we speak, many Malaysians of Indian origin are stateless, and deprived of any rights. They have no access to education, health care, housing or any of the services which you and I take for granted. They are forgotten by society. Their futures are bleak.
“To further their own agendas, politicians from both sides of the divide, will use and abuse, the marginalised Indians. So when will our leaders provide long-erm solutions for the Indians? At the very least, Waytha Moorthy’s actions will have created awareness and drawn attention to the plight of the Indians.”

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