Posts Tagged ‘Hindraf’

Nothing moving for unit headed by Deputy Minister Waytha?

August 28th, 2013
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Received this via email. I just added the red color for focus. So, guess what – no name, no charter, no infrastructure procurement, no expert committee, no budget for 2013 and no planning for 2014 budget (next month gonna announce by PM).

Now push the ball to PM’s court and say Waytha will resign if nothing improves. Rightly so, as Waytha is just deputy minister and the minister in charge is PM himself. Our guess is that all the proposals has been made by Waytha and team but no approval given, thus no progress.

Now they know how hard things are. This is similar fate usually suffered by MIC, if and when they come out with proposals that require huge sums of money?



Hindraf calls on Prime Minister Najib to get cracking on the Hindraf BN MOU

27th August 2013

The recent high pitched campaign by the police to address the rising crime rate in the country has helped to highlight the extent to which Indian youth are caught up in the whirlpool of crime. The fact that there is such a large involvement of the Indian young is a fairly recent phenomenon. This has not always been the case. This trend was set some 30 odd years ago in tandem with the massive forced displacement of Indian plantation workers out of their traditional abodes in the estates. This crime problem of the Indian young is only one of many, ailing the Indian community and is also only symptomatic of the more serious socio-economic problem.

It was against this background that Hindraf put out its five year Blueprint to address the situation of the displaced estate workers in a targeted and focussed manner with permanent and comprehensive solutions in mind. The Blueprint contained all the elements to address the socio-economic issues of the displaced estate workers which would have had a direct effect on this rising crime problem. The plan clearly addressed the many economic, social, physical and psychological factors that contributed to the marginalization of the Indian displaced estate workers – the path that leads to crime..

BN bought the Blueprint on the 18th of April 2013 in an MOU Agreement in an official ceremony and made a public promise to implement the Blueprint on returning to power. They returned to power on the 5th of May.

The most significant thing that that has been accomplished deriving from the MOU in the period since, is the appointment of Waytha Moorthy as a Deputy Minister.

The unit headed by Waytha Moorthy in the Prime Minister’s department has yet to be given a name. The charter of this unit has yet to be publicly confirmed. The infrastructure proposal for the unit has not been bought off. The Expert Steering Committee which is supposed to come out with the specific plan for addressing the income opportunities, housing and skills training for the Displaced Estate workers has yet to be even identified. The Budget proposed for 2013 has still not been deliberated upon, not to even mention the planning for the 2014 budget.

The process seems to be painfully slow. It is ironical that on the one hand, we have this situation with regards to crime being addressed in a hurried manner with these shootings and arrests and which does not assure sustainability anyway. On the other, we have a plan that promises to be a sure and sustainable remedy and which will have long term positive effects effectively delayed.

 The Prime Minister I am sure is behind the plan of the Home Minister to get aggressive in addressing the crime situation through the police. What he should be equally doing is to be behind Waytha Moorthy and get aggressive on rolling out the Blueprint.  He should speed matters up and get the implementation of the Blue print going. He should name Waytha ’s unit, he should publicly confirm its charter, he should immediately get the Expert Steering Committee going, he should approve the necessary infrastructure and budgets to implement the plan,

The current lacklustre and half-hearted approach is not going to win the hearts and minds of the affected Indian estate workers whose expectations are sky high because of the public promises during the recently concluded GE. They want “Janji mesti di tepati and Nambikei” to mean something tangible.

We hope the Prime Minster will get things moving without further delay. The Blueprint and its implementation through the unit is the last hope the Indian community places on the government. If Prime Minster Najib fails to keep his promises, he is looking at an imminent resignation of Waytha Moorthy from government and we believe this will permanently shift the Indian voter completely away from BN on a long term basis.

It is now in the Prime Minister’s hand which way all this will go. For our part we only want to see correction of a serious historical wrong.


Hindraf National Adviser.

Indians can be kingmakers says caretaker PM

April 11th, 2013
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Few interesting points:

Reality factor and emotional factor: What was addressed so that confidence increased? Both factors?

No temples demolished in Selangor by Barisan because its not administered by Barisan, but prior to 2008? Maybe The Star wrote wrongly here.

Meeting with Hindraf: So, PM stressed on moderation while Hindraf is viewed as extremists by certain quarters ( Both “moderate” and “extremist” is subject to interpretation). And looks as if PM saying he made Hindraf trio understand. So, who will give way now?

Everyone vote is important, and more so the vote of ethnic Indians in the crucial areas.

Aside: Note that Star keep forgetting caretaker word when comes to PM, but refers Khalid Ibtrahim as head of the Selangor caretaker government (example at 5th para in this article). Why ah? selective memory loss is it?

The Indian community can be the determining force in the general election although it does not form the majority in any parliamentary seats or state constituencies, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Indians, he said, had a big role to play because their percentage as voters in most constituencies could be the determining factor.

“We saw Barisan Nasional’s dismal performance in 2008 and among the factors was the Indian community’s reduced support. But I believe this situation has been reversed.

“We have done studies there is the reality factor and the emotion factor. We (now) see that the Indian community has more confidence in Barisan,” he said in a special interview in the Tamil edition of BernamaTV’s Hello Malaysia programme last night.

Najib pointed out that in Selangor, no temple had been demolished by Barisan while the Pakatan-led state government had taken action against some, including private ones.

Indian voters, he added, could ensure Barisan’s overall victory, especially in states like Selangor, Perak, Penang, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Kedah.

He said he was touched that parties like the Indian Progressive Front and Indian non-governmental bodies were not only supporting but working to ensure a Barisan win.

On some Indians’ lack of confidence in the MIC despite their overall support for him, Najib said: “Ours is a system of parliamentary democracy. My name is not on the ballot papers but those who represent me in certain areas are representatives from MIC.

“Therefore, they (voters) must regard MIC candidates as part of my team.”

Najib said ultimately, what was important were not certain individuals but the party which would be forming the government and the person appointed as prime minister.

Expressing his satisfaction with his first meeting with Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) recently, Najib said he welcomed their role in wishing to resolve problems involving the Indian community.

“I said I accept it, it’s good. The more people there are who want to help the Indian community, the more effective our efforts will be,” he said.

Najib said he had also explained to Hindraf leaders that there was no place for extremists in Malaysia and that political extremists were dangerous.

“That’s why we must lean towards moderation. If we are moderate in our stand (and) our demands, it will be easy for us to seek solutions. They (Hindraf leaders) understood,” he said.


Bottom line (we are at the bottom of this article!) : Vote wisely macha!

Waytha requests to meet PM Najib Razak and PR leader Anwar Ibrahim

August 30th, 2012
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This is interesting. I wonder which of the requests will be successful. None, both or one of them? PM Najib may say he has the MIC and other NGOs, so why bother with Waytha and Hindraf. Or he may think that this is good opportunity to bring Hindraf into his side as its still has strong support in some areas.  Not sure about Anwar as he may agree to meet and nothing concrete may turn up.

Anyhow, I agree that much more could have been done all this while by both sides. They’ve been pussyfooting and doing small stuff and make its sound so grand.


Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy, who returned to Malaysia earlier this month, has requested to meet Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim separately to discuss approaches to permanently addressing the socio-economic problems of marginalised Indians.

In a statement issued today, he said, “Hindraf believes all past and current approaches fall way below the power curve needed to resolve the problem permanently.

“It is also Hindraf’s belief that a permanent solution and the mechanics to arriving at the solution lies first in a proper definition of the problem, something we believe has eluded the policy-makers and problem-solvers up to now.

“To achieve this there need to be prerequisite political will. This is also another key element that has been missing in all past and current efforts”.

Yesterday,the movement delivered two letters to both leaders respectively requesting for the meetings.

Waythamoorthy said the meetings are to confirm first, the demonstration of that political will and then to work out the details and modalities for the solution.

“We are approaching this initiative with an open mind and are willing to talk to both the leaders as they both share the leadership of the governments in the country.”

‘We will let the people decide’

Waythamoorthy urged Najib and Anwar, who he calls “prime-minister-in-waiting”, to view this as an opportunity to demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to resolving the socio-economic problems of the marginalised Indian community.

“We have requested that both the leaders respond back within two weeks or by Sept 11 to our request for this meeting. It is also our intention to get the meetings going before the end of September 2012. We look forward to having these meetings.

“We will let the people decide on the respective attitudes shown by the leaders in their responses to our request. But we will go on, nevertheless, as we have ‘miles to go before we sleep’,” he added.

Waythamoorthy left the country soon after the Hindraf rally in November 2007 to take the movement’s campaign global. His passport was revoked on April 2008.

After nearly five years of self exile, he returned to the country on Aug 1 without a hitch.


Madam Nagamah, her children and their religion status

August 24th, 2012
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Some facts gleaned from newspapers (the facts may change as more details are revealed):

  • Madam M Nagamah passed away on 14 August 2012 at Sg Bakap Hospital. She was 64 years at the time of passing. She was from Byram Estate, Nibong Tebal.
  • Eldest son of the deceased is M Kamasantheran, aged 46 [ meaning he was born when she was 18 years old].
  • Her body was taken back to home by the family for funeral preparation.
  • JAIPP officers came for the body, saying she was a convert. No documents were provided.
  • Family refused to give in. And the officers left [how ridiculous does this sound? You’d think that a such a serious matter would involve some documentation or proof]
  • Family proceeded with funeral (cremation) at Batu Berapit Crematorium.
  • JAIPP officers went to crematorium and took the ashes of the deceased. Family got to know about it from the crematorium staff.
  • According to Penang state Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, the deceased had converted to Islam in November 2006 [Meaning she was aged about 58 at that time].  He said that  initial investigations as reported to him by JAIPP and the state Mufti Department showed that the 64-year-old had converted at the South Seberang Perai (SPS) Islamic Religious Department with registration number 11/06. The conversion was overseen by Ustaz Anuar Ismail.
  • Her name was registered as Nagamah @ Mariah Abdullah when she converted after marrying one Ibrahim Noyan and had nine children who were registered as Muslims by the National Registration Department.
  • Since both family and JAIPP had made police report, the EXCO said will leave it to police investigation.
  •  The family insists that the deceased has been a practising Hindu all this while and there’s not mention about her converting.
  • Family wants ashes back to conduct funeral rites on 14th day.


If one does a search, can find documents back in 2007 related to the husband Ibrahim Noyan. Below are the facts from 2007:

  • 10 siblings (5 men and 5 women) were seeking to change their religion from Islam to Hindu. These 10 people were born to Ibrahim Noyan and M.Nagamah.  The 10 of them grew up as Hindus and even got married to Hindus.
  • On Feb 16 2007, the 10, all of them with Muslim names and listed as Muslims on their MyKad, submitted individual sworn declarations at the magistrate’s court in Jawi, South Seberang Prai, claiming that they had been practising Hinduism since birth and prayed at Hindu temples.
  • In their declaration, they said that they wanted to change the status of their religion from Islam to Hindu.
  • They also said they were married to Hindus – although none of them had their marriages registered – and took part in Hindu celebrations, including Thaipusam. Their children were also given Hindu names.
  • Their plight was highlighted at Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng’s service centre on that day.[ So she should be aware of this case by now as back then she “hoped that the authorities can settle this issue“].
  • Their father, Ibrahim Noyah, 67, said he first married a Muslim woman known only as Sabariah but she died in 1958. He then married M. Nagamah but did not require her to convert. “Nagamah was my neighbour and I fell in love with her when she took care of me after my wife passed away,” he said.
  • Ibrahim Noyan is visually impaired since 3 years old and Nagamah took care of him after his first wife died.
  • Ibrahim and Nagamah, 60, have 10 children and 30 grandchildren. Three of the grandchildren do not have birth certificates, while some have only one parent’s name in their birth certificates.
  • V. Rathiga, 27, an athlete married to Ibrahim’s son, Kamis, 27, said she left out Kamis’ name in the birth certificates of their daughters – three-year-old Prami and one-year-old Sakti – as Kamis wanted them to be recognised as Hindus. [that’s one solution! if the law hinders, then find a workaround.]
  • While the 10 children wanted to be Hindus, the parents didn’t (meaning Ibrahim and Nagamah). According to Ibrahim he was still a Muslim and that his wife M. Nagamah had converted to Islam in 2005 and assumed the name Mariah Abdullah.
  • “I know my children and my grandchildren are facing problems with their identity cards and I don’t mind if they want to change their names from what it is now in their birth certificates,” said Mariah.
  • Ibrahim had said he started following Hindu culture and customs after his marriage to Nagamah although all their children were given Malay names while being raised as Hindus and had never stepped into a mosque.
  • The Penang Islamic Religious Council has recognised the elderly couple as Muslims.
  • However, the council also accepted the fact that the couple’s children are Hindus. “As far as we are concerned, the matter is resolved as the man had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife has embraced Islam,” said religious council chairman Shabudin Yahaya. “The council has built a house for them in Kebun Baru and are living separately from their children.”
  • Shabudin said the couple were considered Muslim as they had married according to Islamic rites.
  • He said Ibrahim Noyah, 67, had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife, M. Nagamah, 60, embraced Islam in August 2004 and her Muslim name was Mariah Abdullah.
  • Their Muslim marriage was solemnised at the religious department on Aug 11, 2004 and had been issued with the relevant documents.
  • The couple’s eldest son, Jamal Ibrahim, 42, said he hoped the authorities would help resolve their problem.


NST article: Islamic department urged to check family background (25/2/2007)

NST article: Council: Children are Hindus (25/2/2007)

NST article: In a spot over religious status (25/2/2007)


So far I can’t find any article reporting the outcome of their application to change religious status.

Interestingly, the conversion date ranges from 2005 to 2006.  Anyway the religious department says the marriage according to Muslim rites were done in 2004,  meaning she converted after marriage.

Back then, these kind of marriages existed and registering them legally wasn’t a big focus, I guess.

Ok back to the issue at hand. The religious department had shown no respect for law and order. No empathy, no sympathy. No sense of respect. No sensitivity. If conversion happened, then should bring the documents and do it properly. They simply came and took the ashes away.

So, did the deceased marry another person? If not, then M Kamasantheran (or is he Johan Ibrahim?), the eldest son should also be a Muslim and his father should be Ibrahim Noyan. Its quite impractical that they don’t know the existence of the other 9 siblings nor of their father/step-father. It feels like the deceased lead a double life with the children not knowing what happened to her.

Maybe she converted but didn’t inform her children about it and continued to live as an Hindu.

There’s no mention about the husband.  Maybe he had passed away and she returned to her Hindu family?

In the above case, if the whole family is following Hindu religion (including the deceased), then might as well leave it to the family to perform the last rites accordingly.

If the families provides proof of the deceased being a practising Hindu (especially after 2006), does it make the conversion void?

I think to safeguard ourselves, a MyDaftar-like campaign should be conducted by government to provide opportunity for non-Muslims to reaffirm their religious status via a official document or statutory declaration.  We don’t want to be victims after passing away and cause misery for the family.

And what happened to the suggestion that future converts-t0-be must inform their families/next-of-kin? All quiet?

The silence from MHS is also deafening.

On a political note, since this happened in Penang, can expect brickbats for the PR government. But I wonder what can be done legislation wise to avoid this issue in the first place. Can the enactment be amended? Would need approval from MAIPP or King?

Latest interview with Uthayakumar

November 15th, 2011
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He answers some questions and creates more as well. Enjoy interpreting!


The tinted glass door, which conceals the operations within from the outside world, slides open and a beaming P Uthayakumar emerges to welcome FMT into his lair. Nestled in a shop-lot in Bangsar Utama here, this is the nerve centre of both Hindraf and its political offspring, the Human Rights Party (HRP).

Outside, sits an antiquated Volvo, which the 50-year-old lawyer purchased in 1993. “It’s my first car,” he said, conceding that the road he has chosen is anything but profitable.

Inside, the former Internal Security Act detainee has created a replica of his cell at the Kamunting Detention Centre, which includes a figurine of himself.

Sporting a blown-up image of Uthayakumar with long beard and unkempt hair, the figurine, clutching a food tray, is dressed in the same tattered clothes which he wore during his detention.

The enclosure is littered with the books he had read during his incarceration and other items, including the toothbrush and toothpaste he used.

“You see, there is no brand,” he said, picking up the plain white toothpaste tube. “I believe it comes from China and when you use it for a long period, your teeth actually fall off,” he added, laughing.

The walls of the cell are plastered with photographs depicting Hindraf’s struggle throughout the years.

In his private chambers, a computer screen wired to the CCTV, allows Uthayakumar to keep a vigilant eye on the front door just in case the police come knocking.

Racist, extremist, threat or hero?

Mention the Hindraf leader’s name and it is bound to draw mixed reactions.

To some, he is a threat, racist and extremist. The harsher critics believe he has lost his marbles or is nothing more than an Indian clone of Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali. But to some, he is a hero who has suffered for the betterment of the Indian community in Malaysia.

In his defence, Uthayakumar said Hindraf and HRP voice the truth; and the truth knows not political correctness. As a result of this, the feathers of those on both sides of the political divide are ruffled.

“Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat want the Indian votes but not their problems,” he added.

Bouquets and brickbats aside, the irrefutable fact is that Hindraf forced the government to take notice of the Indian community’s plight and caused a vote swing in the last general election.

Within a few hours on that epochal November morning four years ago, Hindraf managed to do something which MIC was unable to do for decades. Even the once-critical MIC leaders acknowledged this.

There are also those who claim that Uthayakumar has transformed into a BN operative based on his scathing criticisms against the opposition.

‘Ultimate struggle is to end Umno’s rule’

But the Hindraf leader makes it crystal clear that his beef with Umno is greater and therefore the movement is willing to extend a conditional olive branch to Pakatan in order to vanquish a common foe.

“Our ultimate political struggle is to end Umno’s rule in Putrajaya. It is one of the last few remaining regimes in the world which has ruled this nation for 54 years. We want an end to Umno’s rule and there are no two ways about it,” he stressed.

Underscoring the importance of dismantling governments that remain in power for a protracted period, he said: “The problem of the Indian poor is due to Umno’s rule. So we feel that at any cost, the rule must end. When there is a change of regime… like in India, BJP came in and after that, when Congress returned to power, it became a better government.”

However, Uthayakumar said this does not mean Hindraf will give Pakatan a blank cheque.

“We want to be the internal check and balance vis-à-vis Indian issues but they (Pakatan) don’t like this idea. We have seen their dismal performance in the states they control with regard to this issue.

“The argument is that ‘we only control the states’. Fair enough, but licences, land for schools and Yayasan Selangor scholarships are within the respective state’s jurisdiction.

“The other excuse is that they have only been in power for three years. But my question is simple, do you need 50 years to make changes? To give land to all Tamil schools in Selangor does not need years, just a few minutes to sign the required paperwork is sufficient,” he added.

‘MIC trapped in a paralysing system’

Uthayakumar also dismissed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s efforts to woo the hearts and minds of the Indian electorate as cosmetic and lacking in substance.

He is also certain that MIC’s new president G Palanivel will not be able to reverse the fortunes of the Indians because the latter operates in a paralysing political structure.

The president himself, he said, is not empowered within the Barisan Nasional framework, so how will he empower the community which he represents?

“The system is such that these leaders are used as ‘mandores’ by Umno to shortchange the Indian poor. I have an old newspaper cutting of (Palanivel’s predecessor) S Samy Vellu becoming MIC president in 1979. He had said then, ‘give me six months and I will transform the Indian community’.

“Three decades later, there has been zero movement. To me, Palanivel coming to power makes no difference. I wouldn’t even say ‘little’, it just makes no difference,” he added.

But to be fair to Palanivel and Samy Vellu, Uthayakumar said, even if he becomes the MIC president, he will not be able to deliver.

There will, however, be one significant difference between the two MIC presidents and him. “I would have resigned,” the Hindraf leader pointed out.

“If only these Indian leaders had quit because they were not being able to deliver, I think Umno would have got the message a long time ago,” he said.

“Even with Pakatan, that is what we are asking for. We want to be empowered. If they are going to use us as mere show pieces, then we don’t want the job. Then just let me live and die as a small timer. Let the record show that I didn’t make it, didn’t go places or achieve anything, so be it,” he added.

Asked if HRP candidates will contest against MIC in the coming general election, Uthayakumar reiterated that the battle is with Umno and not its minions.

However, he does not rule out this possibility. “If the situation is such that we have to prove that we are not planted by BN, then we may do so but there is no final decision on this yet,” he said.

‘We cannot be controlled like the rest’

Responding to a question, Uthayakumar expressed disappointment with the Pakatan top leadership for not engaging Hindraf and HRP.

“What is upsetting is that we went to jail for 514 days and upon our release, they could have asked us ‘you went to jail for a cause, so what are your problems? How can we help you in Kedah, Selangor and Penang?’ No such overtures were made,” he said.

Uthayakumar revealed that HRP met PAS leaders, including its president Abdul Hadi Awang, on Oct 4 but the end result is not something to shout about.

Asked why Pakatan leaders are giving Hindraf and HRP the cold shoulder, he replied: “We cannot be controlled unlike the Indian mandores in DAP and PKR.”

“Similar to the Indian parties in or linked to BN, they can be controlled by Umno. But we speak our minds without fear or favour. We take a principled position. The bottom line is we want equality and equal opportunities for the Indians.

“We don’t want temporary or ad hoc solutions for the Indian woes. We want a wholesome solution and not have Pakatan playing the same Umno game,” he added.

Part 2:

In an interview with FMT, Hindraf and HRP leader P Uthayakumar discusses the predicament of whom the Indians should support in the next general election.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Is the 15/38 (to contest 15 parliament and 38 state seats) plan still on?

The original plan was 15/38. But we are not ready for it although it remains our ultimate and optimum political strategy. What we decided after that was 7/14 – seven parliament and 14 state seats – in the frontline Indian states such as Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Johor. It will be the parliament seats, and the state seats which fall under the parliamentary constituency. We are a small party, so we are looking at things realistically for an effective use of our limited resources.

But if the olive branch (extended to Pakatan Rakyat) fails, then we may have to proceed with Plan B, or rather Plan C, which is putting our 7/14 plan to effect in Selangor. With our limited resources, we will pull our chiefs from the other states and we will work out the logistics and train our crosshair on Selangor. Assuming that we are stonewalled by Pakatan, this will be our last resort, when we are left with no other alternative.

But in reality, it will only have a minimal impact on Pakatan, and it will not disrupt the coalition’s plan to seize federal power. We are not coming in their way as far as Putrajaya is concerned. But they risk losing Selangor, so it is up to them. We want to negotiate, but they don’t.

We are also in a dilemma. Assuming that we give political directions like in 2008 for the Indians to vote Pakatan… assuming Pakatan comes to power in Putrajaya and if they don’t deliver. We have seen the initial signs of this in their states, non-delivery or perhaps a marginal difference with BN but the core problems of the Indians remain unresolved. If this happens, the Indians are going to come back to us and ask “look you told us to vote for Pakatan, what now?” So we are also in a dilemma.

Perhaps Pakatan feels that Hindraf no longer commands the support of the Indians and therefore sees no reason to engage it.

Of course if you compare with 2007, the answer is ‘yes’ (support having dwindled)… It will appear as such for the naked eye. In 2007, that was the peak and nothing can remain at the peak forever. But it will be wrong to say that we don’t have grassroots support at all… crowds still throng our functions, perhaps not in large numbers as before, but we don’t give hampers and rice packets (to lure them).

And if we don’t have the support and if we don’t matter, why are the police still afraid of us in terms of approving permits for our events and so forth? There is something we have, something is on our side… someone told me that perhaps because we speak the truth, we are feared.

Pakatan’s emphasis is multiracial politics and you are considered ethno-centric…

If Pakatan leaders are truly multi-racial and look into the problems of the Indian poor, there will be no need for Hindraf. We don’t want to exist, there will be no necessity for us. But the situation is such that Pakatan won’t touch it (the Indian poor issue), BN won’t touch it, but when we touch it, we are accused of being ethno-centric… I think this is just a clever strategy to avoid the issues by branding us as being ethnocentric.

But how different is Hindraf from Perkasa, and you from Ibrahim Ali?

Pray, tell us one instance where we have claimed supremacy. If you can point out one instance, then I concede, we are perhaps the Indian Perkasa. On the contrary, we are saying that we want equal rights and opportunities as enshrined under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. All we are asking for is to be above the water level, so that we can survive and not drown. Branding us as the Indian Perkasa is another tactic to divert attention from the critical needs of the Indians.

By calling itself the Hindu Rights Action Force, does this mean Hindraf is only interested in issues concerning the Hindus and not the woes of Indians of other faiths or those of other races?

Hindraf was formed by accident due to the religious conversion issue, in particular to a case where the remains of an army corporal was seized and given a Muslim burial. Even his wife had not known that he converted. So Hindraf arose from that, when several Hindu organisations came together and there was a proposal for a strong name, so the Hindu Rights Action Force was born. It started off on that basis, but nobody foresaw Hindraf taking this dimension.

Throughout our struggle, we have not discriminated. Our focus is on the Indian poor, whatever your religion is… we have also taken up cases of those of other races. So not only Indians, we have also handled cases involving the Chinese and even Malays. In practice, it does not matter to us if you are a non-Hindu or even non-Indian. But we focus on Indian issues because the government takes care of the Malays and natives. The Chinese control some 70% of the economy and are self-sustaining. They also have Chinese new villages nationwide, so even if you are a poor Chinese, you have a social safety net. But do Indians have this… is there one Indian new village? Estates are temporary.

So from the word ‘go’, for the Indians, there have only been temporary and ad hoc solutions. If you are in difficulty, they will give you packets of rice and groceries, shake hands, and the cameras go ‘click’, ‘click’, ‘click’. The Indian poor are even worse off than the foreign workers here, whose welfare is looked after by foreign-funded NGOs. But nobody wants to touch the Indian poor, so we took up the job.

So there is no possibility of Hindraf backing BN?

No! There is no way… we have no confidence (in them) at all. Our real enemy is Umno, not the other BN component parties. This is why we don’t attack MIC, because we consider them as nobody; to us, they are ‘persona non-grata’.

Ideally, we want to have a working relationship with Pakatan. But like I said before, we will not be a part of Pakatan as mandores or show pieces. But if they are genuine… (Pakatan supremo) Anwar (Ibrahim) had recently said that ‘Malaysians must be treated as children and not slaves’. As it stands now, we are treated as slaves in a way, not as children because children get equal treatment. Politicians can say all sorts of things, but do they mean it?

Why isn’t P Waythamoorthy coming back to Malaysia?

I told him not to come back because we need a representative overseas. If you remove Waythamoorthy, we will be doomed outside of Malaysia. There will be nobody to do the international lobby… during our Interlok protest, after the police nabbed the core group, it was Waythamoorthy who was giving instructions from London to those in the second and third tiers of command. If  Waythamoorthy did not make the tactical move to leave the country at that time, I will probably still be under ISA detention because there will be nobody to do the international lobby… we also enjoy a certain degree of latitude to operate now because Waythamoorthy is overseas. When we are ‘bullied’ by the authorities, Pakatan, the NGOs or the Bar Council won’t come to our aid. But the authorities know that Waythamoorthy will press the ‘international button’ and pile up the pressure.

(Uthayakumar’s brother, Waythamoorthy left for London just ahead of the police’s crackdown on Hindraf in December 2007. He has not returned since).

Some feel that the tens of thousands who turned up for the rally in 2007 were actually lured by the promise of receiving RM1 million per person via the class action suit you planned to file against the British government.

We have a recording of Waythamoorthy stating at all the nationwide forums in the prelude to the Nov 25 rally that ‘we do not promise you one cent, but what we promise you is our whole-hearted effort (on the civil suit)’… the original purpose of gathering outside the British High Commission was to ask the Queen to appoint her barristers and solicitors (to represent us), that was the strategy, hoping that something will happen because we didn’t have the money. The filing fee for the case itself came up to around RM22,000, what more the legal fee. Honestly, we never expected Nov 25 to happen (in terms of the crowd)… but I can tell you one thing, such a thing of that scale will not happen again in my lifetime… tsumanis and cyclones don’t happen everyday. That was the peak.

What is the status of the suit?

The lawyers (from Britain) came here and one of them, Imran Khan, was denied entry. We are now collecting data on matters like Indian taxi drivers and businessmen being denied licences, students denied scholarships and so forth. We are now appealing for legal aid to move the civil suit

Have you identified the candidates for the election?

We have a list, but we have not made it public… it’s a tentative list.

Are you contesting?

Yes I am… I have to.

Which seat are you planing to contest?

Let’s not reveal that for the moment.