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High Chaparral: Kampung Buah Pala is Hindraf’s new rallying cry

Contributed by Anonymous on Thursday, July 02 @ 03:34:47 CDT

National: Politics
Analysis by Baradan Kuppusamy, themalaysianinsider.com, July 02 2009 KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — The campaign to save Kampung Buah Pala in Penang from demolition is shaping into a big “do or die” battle for Hindraf, the banned movement whose fortunes have been on the decline in recent months for want of a rallying cause.


Saving Kampung Buah Pala is the new call to battle for Hindraf. Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar and his supporters are mobilising supporters across the country to rise up and protest the impending demolition of the village. He is also personally visiting the village over the weekend and rallying his supporters to gather there to protest. Any cause needs an enemy and unfortunately for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) this time it is the DAP and its alleged failure to “save” the village from demolition. Previously it was Umno, for doing “nothing” for the Indians. In both cases the key uniting element for the aggrieved Indian underclass was the sense of “betrayal” they suffered. The Hindraf fight to save Kampung Buah Pala is similar to the movement's mobilisation to stop the demolition of the Mariamman temple in Kampung Karupiah, Padang Jawa in October 2007. The demolition of this temple a week before Deepavalli was a key reason for the size of the mass protest on Nov 25, 2007 in the federal capital. Uthayakumar hopes to revive his flagging fortunes and use the campaign to save Kampung Buah Pala, and once again capture the imagination of the Indian underclass. It was thought, and rightly so, that freedom from ISA detention would lessen his appeal to the Tamil masses. Uthayakumar’s popularity among the Indian underclass dropped as seen in the smaller crowds attending his functions since his release in May. Some of his key lieutenants have also called it a day while others have gathered under the Makkal Sakthi Party Malaysia banner headed by Hindraf's former national coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran. Another reason for rallying around Kampung Buah Pala is that Uthayakumar is set to form a new political party called Parti Hak Asasi Manusia or Paham in Klang on July 19. “My experience tells me and recent political developments prove it that we (Indians) need a third force,” he told The Malaysian Insider on Monday. “We cannot rely on either Umno or Pakatan to help us,” he had said. He said the Kampung Buah Pala incident is a “perfect example” of how Pakatan Rakyat in general and the DAP in particular had “washed their hands” of Indian problems. “They have the power to right the wrongs but give excuses to act,” he said. The Penang controversy which he hopes to capitalise on provides the perfect backdrop for the launch of his party. His aim is to corral the Indian vote which, although is only about 10 per cent of the total electorate, plays a kingmaker role in about 60 parliamentary constituencies, and negotiate with PR or Barisan Nasional to uplift the Indian poor. However the majority of Indians are now supporting the PR alliance, unlike before when they were with the MIC/BN. This is why Uthayakumar is increasingly turning his guns on the PR coalition to show the Indians that the fledgling alliance is just another BN, unwilling to help Indians unless they unite under his banner and demand for their “fair share.” The Hindraf protest campaign to “save” Kampung Buah Pala advances his cause and signals a parting of ways between Hindraf and PR. Ironically, by damaging PR and weaning away Indian support from the alliance, Uthayakumar may unwittingly play into the hands of BN.********What do you get when you have two Indian lawyers? JULY 2 — I’m sure you all have heard of this racist joke: what do you get when you have two Indian lawyers? The answer is: three law firms — one each and the third is the partnership. The joke is to convey the public perception that Indians are fine lawyers and just love to argue. I’m not sure what the origin of the joke is but it may have to do with the fact that some of the most famous lawyers in this country are people like Karpal Singh and his son, Mr Looks-And-Sounds-Like-Me V.K. Lingam and judge Gopal Sri Ram. There are many others, some sadly no longer with us. These are formidable legal minds and known to suffer no fools.
I’m bringing up the issue of lawyers simply because one other interesting bit about Indian lawyers is that they tend to get involved in politics (not all but many of them). Most of the Hindraf leaders are lawyers and if you believe the news, one of them has just registered a new political party called Parti Hak Asasi Manusia or Paham. This comes after the formation of the Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party (MMSP), led by former Hindraf national coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran. There is also a rumour floating around that another Indian leader is planning for another party. At least half a dozen parties are chasing the support of the 7.8 per cent of Malaysia’s population of Indians who made up slightly more than 10 per cent at the time of independence. The really bad news is that in about a decade’s time, the Indian population will fall to below 5 per cent. So you can clearly see that with more Indian-based parties and an Indian population (in percentage terms) going down, the political voice of the Indians is going to be a whisper. The basic problem is the failure of the MIC. For a long time, the MIC had a monopoly of Indian support but along the way, since the 1980s, it had squandered its support among the Indian population due to its inability to stand up to Umno and deliver government support to the community. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s strongman politics had no place for the MIC since it was unable to get its act together. It did not help that the Indians did not “control” any constituencies, and at best were a significant majority in about seven to 10 parliamentary seats. In any case, a series of financial scandals in MIC and internal fights ended with the party totally dominated by a single person. By this stage it was almost impossible to revive the MIC as all the talented Indian professionals had either left the country, sacked/expelled from the party, joined the opposition (especially the DAP and PKR) or joined NGOs. As a joke went: if you want to attend a gangster meeting, go to a MIC meeting. It took the Indian community nearly a decade to find its new champion — Hindraf. It was only logical that since the Indians did not have a political platform, they would turn to religion as the primary mobilising force. The destruction of Hindu temples and related issues on religious freedom and body snatching were just the right *****tail mix to ignite the Indian population. The most interesting bit was that nobody, and I mean none of the mainstream political parties (including the MIC), saw Hindraf coming. When Hindraf staged the demonstration in front of the iconic Petronas Towers, people suddenly realised that a new political force was in town. The rest is history. No matter how racist Hindraf is, the truth is it forced both the government and the opposition to look at the Indian problem in this country. The Indians many be small numerically but they can mount an effective demonstration that captured headlines around the world. Unfortunately for Hindraf, at the height of its popularity, it did not play its cards well. The ISA effectively broke its back and it did not have a strategy to deal with it. The BN paid a heavy political price but it was a price worth paying since the MIC could no longer deliver the votes. The IPF was also unable to get Indian votes. Umno knows that in order to win back the Indian voters, a new Indian party has to emerge. It tried before with the Malaysian Indian United Party (MIUP) but it did not work. Hence it is relatively generous when it comes to approving new political parties that target the Indian community. This high-risk strategy works well. It will split the Indian community politically but also allow the most talented new Indian leaders to emerge outside of the usual suspects of the MIC, IPF and PPP. If they can prove they can get Indian support, they can later be co-opted into the BN or remain an ally of the BN outside, like the IPF. Where does this leave the ordinary Indian Malaysian? The short answer is that the Indian community will now actually get politically weaker in the short term as all these parties fight among themselves to see who can command the support of the Indians. Unless you have a clear champion like what Hindraf was two years ago, the Indian community will end up neither here or there for the coming decade.********* Hindraf leader defends Guan Eng, asks who made Waytha boss
Ganapathi today came to Lim’s defence.
By Shannon Teoh KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Now it is Hindraf's turn to deal with disagreements from within its ranks. Senior leader V.S. Ganapathi Rao came out unexpectedly to defend Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over the Kampung Buah Pala demolition issue. One of the symbolic "Hindraf Five" detained under the Internal Security Act after a mass rally in 2007, he questioned Hindraf's aggressive stance against the DAP secretary-general over what some claim to be the last Indian heritage village on the island. Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, he said: "It appears that some people are using the Hindraf name to manipulate the issue to criticise DAP." He was referring to calls for Lim to resign as chief minister for his failure to solve the displacement of over 30 households in the village. "We had agreed to end public demonstrations and when a Hindu temple was demolished in Kuala Lumpur, nobody said anything. So why are they doing this to Lim? To make Barisan Nasional happy?" he added. Despite other Hindraf leaders such as national co-ordinator S. Jayathas and chairman P. Waythamoorthy having strongly criticised Lim, to the point of calling him a "heartless man," Ganapathi called for those involved not to politicise the issue but to let the chief minister do his best. He also questioned the authority of Waythamoorthy and Jayathas to represent Hindraf's stand on the issue. "Who made Waythamoorthy chairman? There was no election. The few of us just sat down one day and decided to start Hindraf. There is no one leader in charge. But if he wants to claim to be chairman, that is his problem," said Ganapathi. He also said that Jayathas was appointed co-ordinator by Waythamoorthy but without the agreement of the rest of the leaders including those in the Hindraf Five. Ganapathi said he was saddened that "those who had not contributed" are now claiming to be leaders and causing cracks in the organisation. He said Hindraf was "losing its direction" with political parties and individual agendas coming to the fore. "I do not see the team working together anymore," he said. Ganapathi added that since the Kampung Buah Pala issue was caused by the previous administration under Barisan Nasional, Lim should now try to give the residents some alternatives and options even if the land cannot be acquired back from the developers due to the cost involved, a cost Lim claims would be more than "tens of millions of ringgit".

 
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