DAP national vice chairperson M Kulasegaran said today that the deaths of three persons in a matter of 11 days occurring while they were in police custody made the position of P Waythamoorthy as deputy minister in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration “well-nigh untenable”.

“My advice to him is that he should not waste time and that he quit the administration forthwith,” said the MP for Ipoh Barat, who in the past has often been the target of the ire of Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia (PHM), the Hindu rights movement led by Waythamoorthy, for being the local Indian version of what African Americans once caustically called ‘Uncle Tom’.

pkr dharmendran dang wangi police 260513 jayathasThe slur, commonly applied in the days of the struggle for civil rights, was the favourite epithet hurled by African American radicals at people of similar race who are loathed for what the former derisively lampoon as servile ingratiation with the white American power structure.

The equivalent in the Malaysian argot is ‘mandore’, a favourite term of derision applied by various Hindraf leaders to Indian Malaysian leaders whom they see as apologists for a ruling power structure that marginalises the race.
A Waythamoothy-led PHM had worked out an eleventh-hour accommodation with BN before the May 5 polls which saw the movement shed the fifth and sixth points of a six-point program that they required competing coalitions, BN and Pakatan Rakyat, to endorse as a pre-condition for his group’s electoral support.

Pakatan turned out to be lukewarm to the whole idea whereas BN emerged as late suitors of Hindraf, albeit one that required the Hindu rights body to trim its sails on two counts: the demand for a halt to custodial deaths and an end to institutionalised racism.
Trading cause for position?

“Now we can see why Prime Minister Najib Razak required PHM to drop the halt to custodial deaths demand,” remarked Kulasegaran, in the wake of the latest death of an Indian Malaysia detainee - engineer P Karuna Nithi - while in police custody in Tampin yesterday.

najib signs hindraf blueprint waythamoorthy speakingEarlier deaths to N Dhamendran, while in a KL police headquarters lockup on May 21, and to R James Ramesh in a Penang police lockup on May 26, had set local human rights advocates’ nerves on edge.

Karuna Nithi’s death yesterday brings to three the number of recent mortalities among suspects while under police custody and the overall count since 2000 to 219, a figure causing grave disquiet to human rights advocates and Indian Malaysians who view the mortality rate as reflective of the community’s depressed socioeconomic status.

The custodial deaths ratchet up the pressure on PHM’s point man in Najib’s administration, Waythamoorhty, to explain the movement’s dropping of the demand to halt custodial deaths, which its critics increasingly contend was an act driven by craven political expediency rather than anything nobler.

Kulasegaran said, “As things are, Waythamoorthy’s appointment as deputy minister is constitutionally suspect because he did not win a seat in Parliament nor was he appointed a Senator.”

“Now with three custodial deaths in a row he must have the hide of an elephant to hold on to his deputy minister’s post. He should give it up if he has any sense of shame and apologise to the Indian Malaysians for selling out their interest,” said the DAP federal legislator.