COMMENT I would like to rejoin the debate on the Hindraf issue after having read DAP MP M Kulasegaran's opinion that the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has waned in strength since the historic protest it organised on Nov 25, 2007, and his speculation as to the reasons for that.

I want the say that the response by Hindraf national secretary P Ramesh to the MP for Ipoh Barat's compelling opinion comes nowhere close to a rebuttal of the points made.

NONEInstead it digresses to become a piece of grandstanding by Ramesh as if to imply that Kulasegaran (second from left) cannot speak for himself and needs the permission of his superiors in Pakatan Rakyat to say anything substantive on the consultations between Hindraf and the opposition coalition with respect to preparations for the GE13.

This stance only underscores the point Kulasegaran sought to make, that Hindraf has become so presumptuous about its standing in the Indian Malaysian community such that other political groups must engage with it - and other leaders of the Indian cause must stand down to it or risk losing Indian votes in the general election.

As Kulasegaran argued, the anecdotal evidence of the last two years casts strong doubt on the validity of this assumption of Hindraf's, that the movement is chief broker for the Indian vote.

Attendances at either PKR or DAP organised public events aimed at canvassing the Indian vote in the last six months at least, furnish strong grounds to believe that Indian Malaysians have moved on from having an emotional tie to the historic march of six Novembers' ago.

That march, evocatively described by Kulasegaran as the ‘Rosa Parks' moment in the struggle for Indian socio-economic advancement in Malaysia, is now an inspiring but distant memory to Indians who have chosen to support the political parties in the opposition.

They don't want to be left out of the historic opportunity, now impending, for change to the Malaysian psychological and political landscape in which the urgent needs of the people as a whole must transcend sectarian considerations of race or religion that hitherto have created a disfiguring blight in our society.

Clearly, many Indian Malaysians have moved on. By declining to recognise this, Hindraf is in danger of being caught in the political backwash.

Need to engage other groups

Hindraf, with its stance of demanding Pakatan to comply to its race-specific blueprint for the Indian poor or risk losing their electoral endorsement, is in peril of being left marooned on the shores of a historic movement for political change.

Should this come to pass, I am certain history would recognise this misjudgment of Hindraf's as disastrous for its standing and for the shadow that would cast on the excellence of its achievement in having organised the pivotal march of Nov 25, 2007.

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 marching to stationHindraf must realise that one swallow does not make a summer. The energising and sustenance of a movement for change is a long, patient and collaborative endeavour.

Minority groups should not overestimate their strength but must engage with other reform-minded parties to collectively bring about the fulfillment of goals that they jointly and severally strive for.

Upon the overall system opening up to the changes being collaboratively and jointly fought for, it would be very difficult for treachery to then occur and, if it occurs, much easier for criticism to be trained on these politicians such that rectification is made.

This is the new situation that the reformasi movement is headed for in Malaysia.

It is to the benefit of Indian Malaysians to join in this growingly popular endeavour and not broker their votes to the highest bidder as if this is an electoral stock exchange rather than a popular and broad-based movement for historic change.


R KENGADHARAN is one of the five Hindraf leaders who was detained under the Internal Security Act in the wake of the movement's historic 2007 rally in Kuala Lumpur.