Continues from ‘When Umno wins the GE, who will be blamed?!‘
Reply from Hindraf
Mariam Mokhtar is a Malaysian and a columnist for Malaysiakini. She resides in the UK. She sent in these questions during the period of Waytha’s 21-day hunger Viratham and has pushed insensitively for a response. Here is the response.
The response is penned by Hindraf national advisor N. Ganesan but the thoughts are Waytha’s.
Waytha Moorthy has just ended his hunger strike. He has been on strike for 21 days. He is unable to respond personally for obvious reasons and he has asked me to respond on his behalf.
The responses, though they come from me [Ganesan], closely mirror Waytha’s thoughts.
I feel sad that you are portraying him to have betrayed his cause and you are pressing this point at a time when he is going through this Hunger Viratham [Day 18] and physically and mentally under great stress.
So much for having been your friend. Regardless, here are the responses:
Mariam’s question (1): You appear to target the opposition, instead of focusing your ire on BN, whose policies corrupted the country and its institutions. Some people claim that in approaching both parties, you (and/or Hindraf) are acting like prostitutes.* What have to say about this?
Hindraf’s response: You talk about two parties as if one was all good and the other all evil. The truth is they are really not that much different – not their economic policies, not their social policies. One just has not had the opportunity yet, to be that corrupt, though we can already see the outlines of corruption even in the fledgling Pakatan Administrations across the country. As for social policy, talk to Anwar and he will tell you how sacred article 153 is to him, just the same as Umno.
To the poor it makes little difference who is in power as long as there is no impact to their daily lives. There is nothing sacred for them, one or the other. We represent them. We are only interested in real changes in their lives. Their lives have gotten rotten because of Umno’s policies of the past. If there are changes in Umno’s policies tomorrow and it improves their lives then that is what they must go for.
That does not mean we change our push for a just and equal Malaysia. After having dealt directly with Pakatan and all their bungling, we are beginning to question if they are the change that Malaysia truly needs. That does not mean our basic policies have changed. It is just that they [Pakatan] are really not that different – in spite of their high sounding rhetoric.
Much as we want to work with Pakatan, they are the ones who seem to have a problem with us. We have made so many overtures. We have had 18 meetings, both formal and informal and have made several constructive proposals for a true partnership (you are not privy to any of that information.)
All we see on their part is bungling and incompetence. They make us feel that we are [standing] in their way to Putrajaya, so instead of embracing us, they try to kill us off in so many ways. And it is a pity that journalists like you whom we used to consider decent too can get caught up with all that.
Mariam’s question (2): For 56 years, BN continually broke its promises to the Indians. Do you like the Umno/BN style of governance? What is your view of Umno’s corruption? Can you continue to claim to be principled when you enter into talks with BN?
Hindraf’s response: BN’s track record with Indians in not exemplary. Nor is Pakatan’s. Just giving a few additional positions in the state hierarchy does not make one better when you still demolish Indian settlements, Indian burial grounds and Hindu temples.
For 56 years, BN failed the Indians and continually broke their promises to them. Pakatan has done no better for the 5 years that they have been in office in Penang – Kg Buah Pala, in Kedah – Batu Pekak burial ground, in Selangor, all those places of worship? Despite this, you blame PR, for failing Hindraf. PR has not failed Hindraf; they just want to kill off this troublesome new kid on the block. Can you blame us for blaming Pakatan for wanting to kill us off?
(a) “Do you like the Umno/BN style of governance? What is your view of Umno’s corruption?”
After having known Waytha Moorthy for so long, I am surprised you even ask a question like that. I wonder what you truly have in your mind – when you pose questions like that. This is a no brainer question and I will just say this – go look at all his work in the past.
(b) “Can you claim to be principled when you are having talks with BN?”
What is unprincipled about talking to your enemy? How else do problems get resolved if not through contact of this sort?
We want to solve problems. There is nothing underhand here. There is only a genuine attempt to solve problems. It does not mean PR has all the solutions and Umno none. If you are in the know, you will know that Pakatan is bungling very badly in their relationships with all the minorities in the country, East and West Malaysia.
Hubris seems to have got them. In 2008 that same factor wiped out BN/Umno. In these elections if they do not watch it, much the same will hit them.
Let me ask you Mariam, are you being principled yourself in asking these kinds of convoluted questions after, as I understand of having spent so many hours in discussion with Waytha.
Mariam’s question (3): You were given your passport, safe passage into Malaysia via the Causeway and later, the ban on Hindraf was lifted. Some people allege that you or others in Hindraf had done a “deal” with Umno, perhaps, even with Mahathir, the former PM. What have you to say about this allegation?
Hindraf’s response: Did Anwar do a deal with Najib for him to get off the hook on Sodomy 2? Allegations are easy. You have to decide what you want to believe.
Najib is trying to placate the Indians for the votes he seeks from them. All what you list above derives from that. Waytha was just using the cracks in the situation and making the calls for advantage. You can relegate all that to his smartness in reading the opportunities.
Mariam’s question (4): Is Hindraf trying to fill the vacuum left by the MIC?
Hindraf’s response: MIC never stood up for the Indian poor – never. They just served Umno and themselves. We represent a segment of Malaysian society never before truly represented in the halls of power. This question is based on too simplistic a view. I am surprised at your shallowness of understanding in this matter.
Mariam’s question (5): Hindraf started as a human rights organisation, but has morphed into a race-based political party. How is Malaysia to move forward and reject racial politics if you continue to play the race card? How are your policies better than Pakatan’s?
Hindraf’s response: No Mariam, you got it all wrong. They were full of praise as long as we remained the fall guys. But when we started to stand up and ask for our fair share of the national resource, we are accused of morphing into a race-based party. We have not changed policy wise one bit. We are what we have always been in policy terms.
What may have changed is that we may now be more discussion orientated and less confrontation orientated. We have to find our future on our own without relying on others when dealing with devils. See how messy things can get when the slaves start asking for their place in the sun.
We are still very much a human rights organization. We fight for the rights of those who have been denied their rights and just because they all happen to be Indians, that does not make us racists. The rights violations against the Indian poor has been most serious and there have been no takers for that, until we arrived. Wasn’t the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King also racist by that definition? What do you have to say about that?
(a) “How is Malaysia to move forwards and reject racial politics if you continue to play the race-card?”
You are absolutely right. Is DAP not a Chinese party. Is PAS a not a Malay Muslim party. Is PKR not a largely Malay party?
When they can give up their individual identities and merge into one big party on a common platform, then and only then can we truly move forward on a non racial basis. But they will not, because everyone knows it is still very much a race-based game. It is not Hindraf that is holding the party back, please.
We just represent the Indian poor and you call that playing the race card. Yet you have all these huge players playing the huge race cards right in front of your eyes and you do not want to see that. It is only when the Thambi stands and asks for his share of things that he is dabbling in dirty racial politics. This is typical Ketuanan Melayu approach. So how have you morphed, Mariam?
(b) “How are your policies better than PR’s?”
We are not competing with PR on whose policies are better. All we are saying is solve the problems we raise. Their policies will not solve the core problems that we raise in a comprehensive and permanent manner any time soon. There is no line of sight between their Buku Jingga policies and the problems we raise. That’s all.
Mariam’s question (6): You appear to be fighting racism with more racism. Not all Malays or bumiputeras benefit from the NEP. Many indigenous peoples from Sarawak are also stateless. Hindraf will look after the Indians, so what will Hindraf do for the poor people from the Malay, Chinese and other communities?
Hindraf’s response: There are stateless Indians, just as there are stateless Orang Asli, Penans etc. There are poor Jews too, you forgot to say that.
(a) “How is Malaysia to fight racism with more racism?”
What is your definition of racism? When victims of racism start speaking up, is that to be termed racism too? Were the blacks of the USA racists during the civil rights movement days?
Mariam I am surprised with your understanding on this very fundamental question. When we have so called progressives like you with such shallow understanding of things, it only serves to entrench racism.
Pakatan’s veiled structures and strategies are in truth racist. That, is fighting racism with a new brand of racism, with heralds like you for them. That absolutely takes away your veil of a progressive activist for the cause of humanity, when you define racism in such self-serving terms.
Mariam’s question (7): Many people have been played out by Umno and Najib. What makes you think that they will honour their promises and keep their “janji ditepati” to you?
Hindraf’s response: You are right about this. That is why we are asking for any endorsement from both PR and BN in a binding manner.
But then Anwar himself has serious reservations about signing an agreement on the Blueprint, I am sure you are fully aware about this. Why does he say he agrees in principle and then says he does not want to sign the agreement in binding way? This brings me back to my earlier point – there is not much difference.
Mariam’s question (8): Hindraf demanded 10 parliamentary and seven state seats for it to contest from Pakatan. Have you made a similar demand to BN?
Hindraf’s response: We cannot win in any seat on our platform without support from other parties. We harbour no illusions; this is the current fate of minorities in the country. When we try to raise [issues], you and your ilk shout us down saying we are bloody racists.
(a) “Have you made a similar demand to BN?”
We have just started the process of discussion. We have not made any such demands.
Mariam’s question (9): Do you seriously think you will win the 17 parliamentary and state seat allocations you demanded from Pakatan? Is it wise to tell your followers to abstain from voting?
(a) “If you do not get either PR or BN to align with you, what is your advice to your followers?”
We have several options and we will decide that in a while.
(b) “Will you tell them to abstain from voting? Is this wise?”
Strategic abstention has been known to have impact too. If it has impact and used judiciously, it can be a wise move. We will be deciding on all of this very soon.
(c) “Hindraf demanded 10 parliamentary seats and 8 state seats from Pakatan.”
Your numbers are wrong.
[Helen’s note: The questions earlier sent to Hindraf were worded slightly differently from what appeared yesterday in Mariam’s column. The phrasing in this copy, with regard to segments (9) above as well as (1)*, refers to the e-mail sent to Hindraf. Mariam’s version in Malaysiakini yesterday was amended to say “seven state seats” instead.]
Mariam’s question (10): You are now in your 18th day of the hunger strike. Do you think BN cares about the consequences of your hunger strike? [Helen’s note: Question as phrased in Mariam’s e-mail to Hindraf]
Do you think you will make a significant impact on Malaysians? What are your real reasons for going on this strike? What do you seek to accomplish with this hunger strike? What will make you start eating again?
Hindraf’s response: Let them answer that to the people to whom the hunger strike is an important symbol. Please see the attached photo of the people that gathered when Waytha ended his hunger strike.
(a) “Do you think you will make a significant impact on the Malaysian people with your hunger strike?”
With the Indian poor – yes.
(b) “What are your real reasons for going on this strike?”
To expose the fact that both sides are only interested in the votes but not the problems of the Indian poor. We want to sharpen this view to our supporters too, so that they will not be carried away by the rhetoric.
(c) “What do you seek to accomplish with this hunger strike? What will make you start eating again?”
When we have made clear the positions of both PR and BN on how much they care for the problems of the Indian poor.
Mariam, on what authority you ask Waytha these questions I do not know.
Now, let me see if you are indeed a professional journalist. Here are 10 questions that we would like you to pose to Anwar Ibrahim to clarify your credentials, that you are not a new morphed form of Ketuanan Melayu journalist and then go public with any response or lack of it from him.
[Helen’s note: I’m omitting to publish Hindraf’s questions to Anwar]
Mariam, we hope you will ask these questions to Anwar Ibrahim with the same objective passion as you have done of Waytha Moorthy. If you do not pose these questions we will just have to take it that you are just a morphed form of Ketuanan Melayu journalist. Life teaches us every day.