iMOL Archives - Man behind Indians' protest stirs up mixed feelings
Welcome iMOL Archives

imol

 

 
Home 2SubscribeTrigger HappyEthnic ClashForumHistorySocialPoliticsEconomyEducationPlantation WorkersAbout me
Silence is not an option when things are ill done - Lord Alfred Dennings
Search   in  

 Create an AccountMain Home | Submit News | Your Account | Content | Topics | Top 10  

Modules
· Home
· Advertising
· AvantGo
· Feedback
· Forums
· Private Messages
· Recommend Us
· Search
· Statistics
· Stories Archive
· Submit News
· Surveys
· Top 10
· Topics
· Your Account

Who's Online
There are currently, 16 guest(s) and 0 member(s) that are online.

You are Anonymous user. You can register for free by clicking here

Languages
Select Interface Language:


Random Headlines

Tamil Dailies
[ Tamil Dailies ]

·New Tamil daily Thina Kural to be launched Feb 9
·Subra tormentor ‘leaves’ Tamil Nesan
·Tamil blady's
·Kogilan trashed Malaysian Tamil Dailies
·Makkal Osai back on the stands on Saturday
·Makkal Osai Wants Explanation On Non-extension Of Publishing Permit
·Makkal Osai loses licence
·Publishing License denied for Makkal Osai
·Subra saddened by daily's suspension

  
Man behind Indians' protest stirs up mixed feelings

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04 @ 07:49:25 CST

CommunityBy Carolyn Hong, Malaysia Bureau Chief
The Straits Times


CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE: Hindraf chief P. Uthayakumar (right) has tapped into the discontent felt by Indians. -- PHOTO: AFP


LAWYER P. Uthayakumar, who recently roused thousands of Indians to take to the streets in a protest against their plight, is a man who stirs up a lot of mixed feelings.

He speaks like a machine gun going off, is confrontational and has the lawyerly knack of hammering home his points through repetition.

The 46-year-old is louder than some of the most strident pressure groups.

And he has turned off some Malaysians, especially the elite, who view him suspiciously as a maverick or even a publicity hound.

Yet even they have sympathy for the issues that he articulates. And the Indian march that he led on Nov 25 shows how his message has resonated with the working class.

'A lot of people do not like the way he does things, and it does affect his credibility, but it gets the message out,' said human rights lawyer Edmund Bon.

Mr Uthayakumar, who is unmarried, is a key leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), a previously little-known organisation.

He grew up in rural Kelantan, the son of a locomotive driver and a housewife.

His younger brother, Mr P. Waytha Moorthy, is chairman of Hindraf. Mr Uthayakumar said his elder brother and three sisters are supportive of his campaign and turned up for the mass rally in Kuala Lumpur.

Hindraf became a household name after it led thousands of Indians in the Nov 25 march that drew the attention of the international media.

The New Straits Times has described its plan to hand over a petition to the British government asking for financial compensation as a 'quixotic mission'.

It is precisely this sort of mission that has led some to question Mr Uthayakumar's credibility and purpose, as do his charges of the 'mini genocide' of ethnic Indians.

In 2004 he sought political asylum in London, claiming that police were harassing him over his work on deaths in police custody.

When he ran his Police Watch and Human Rights Committee to demand action on deaths in custody, mostly of Indians, it was as high-profile as Hindraf is now.

Hindraf emerged about two years ago when Mr Uthayakumar switched focus to the demolition of Hindu temples built without permission and the struggles of the Indian community.

He was quoted by The New Paper yesterday as saying that Hindraf's protests were inspired by the monks in Myanmar, and included some who 'were prepared to die for their cause'.

'I've shown slides of monks getting shot and killed during my road shows, and I think it struck a chord with the people,' he said.

Asked whether he was inspiring his followers to turn to violence, he replied: 'I think it's quite unlikely we'll head down that path towards a civil war, but there's always the possibility. Some of the uneducated may resort to violence.'

Indians form about 8 per cent of Malaysia's population, but only up to a third of them are well-off. The rest, mostly Tamils, live on the margins with little access to good education.

'He is very much issue-oriented, and these are matters that are very important to the Indians,' said Mr M. Kulasegaran, an opposition MP.

Mr Uthayakumar told The Straits Times he has been researching on these issues since he opened his law firm in 1994, and half his income has gone to his causes.

He claims his work is funded by donations from working-class Indians.

That thousands of Indians - traditionally a safe voter base for the governing party - are challenging the authorities must be a cause of worry for the government.

But it is unlikely to cost it many seats because Indian voters are a minority and Hindraf's confrontational stance repels many would-be supporters.

It would, however, be a blow to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition if its popular vote were to be hit.

What Hindraf wants
HINDRAF has issued a long list of demands to the government, the latest coming last Saturday.

Original demands

Compensation of £1 million (S$3 million) from the British government for each of Malaysia's nearly two million Indians.

Halt temple demolitions. Those demolished to get RM10 million (S$4.3m) compensation each.

Equal rights in education and employment.

More aid to 523 Tamil primary schools.

New demands

A meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi by Sunday.

A new committee to look into Indian grouses.

Release of Indians held without trial in a notorious Johor jail.

Appointment of a non-Malay to a new post of second deputy prime minister.

Finance minister's post to be filled by a Chinese.

20 per cent of top posts in government and private sector for Indians for the next 15 years.

A minimum of 20 opposition MPs to be elected by the Indian community.

 
Login
Nickname

Password

Don't have an account yet? You can create one. As a registered user you have some advantages like theme manager, comments configuration and post comments with your name.

Related Links
· More about Community
· News by sound


Most read story about Community:
GOD HELP MY Bro's n Sisters!


Article Rating
Average Score: 5
Votes: 1


Please take a second and vote for this article:

Excellent
Very Good
Good
Regular
Bad


Options

 Printer Friendly Printer Friendly


Google
 
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the authors and comments on this website are the sole responsibility of the writers themselves. The writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The accuracy, completeness, honesty, exactitude and factuality of the articles and comments are not guaranteed by iMOL.

If you do not wish any of your writing republished here, please send mail to sound20[at]gmail.com. Allow us one month to remove it. Thanks. Copyright © 1998 iMOL

Page Generation: 0.18 Seconds