Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, CPI
Three days ago (27 March), together with a colleague, I visited P. Waytha Moorthy who is presently in the 20th day of his hunger (viratham) strike aimed at pricking the conscience of the nation on the plight of the Indian poor and marginalized.
A small group of supporters were also there early that morning, including some who had made the long trek from Kedah to express their support for him and the Hindraf struggle. I noticed that many thousands of mainly Indian supporters had signed the guest book (of supporters visiting him) and was glad to add my name to the list, late though I was in my visit.
He was in a frail and weakened condition when he received us. This was to be expected as he has been struggling with various longstanding health problems even prior to undertaking the hunger strike. Abstention from food for such a long period would take a heavy toll on the wellbeing of even a person in the best of health.
It seemed to me on that day that he was dangerously close to, if not already, exceeding the limits of human endurance in the prolonged fast. However his spirit was undiminished and his mental faculties were as sharp as ever.
We had a fruitful conversation on the importance of Hindraf’s struggle for not only Indians but the whole country. I emerged from the meeting with even stronger feelings of admiration for his steely determination to stay the course in his pursuit of equality, human rights and justice for his community – a cause applicable to all small minorities in the country whose futures and fates are of little or no interest to Umno and its coterie of entrenched business and other elite groups that have cornered most of our nation’s wealth and power.
I had not intended to write about my meeting with him as it was meant to be an act of private solidarity. However, I am impelled to write about it now for two reasons.
The first is to call upon fellow Malaysians to rally around the Hindraf cause. If not because of their concern at the way the Indian poor have been marginalized and compassion for the hundreds of thousands of Indian poor families systematically excluded from access to the prerequisites of a decent livelihood, then at least in recognition of the courage of the movement.
Hindraf and its supporters had been the first civil society organization to openly challenge and fight the odious scourge of racism. It is a struggle in which Hindraf and Waytha have stood apart from the rest of the country in not mincing words and in their readiness to stand for their principles and rights, and if necessary even to endure cracked skulls and spilled blood.
Unfortunately most Malaysians have a short or incomplete memory when it comes to recognition of the individuals and groups that have sacrificed much to ensure a better country for all of us.
Our political amnesia stems from several causes. Some are externally induced such as the official and mainstream mass media and other collaborationist-inclined interest groups ignoring or obliterating the facts on key and sensitive events and issues. Others are internally generated and arise from a culture of cynicism and disbelief in the nobility or goodness of others, and in the promotion of the self as a better being than others.
Hindraf has fallen foul not only of the official and BN propaganda machine but it has also now been demonized in the alternative internet media by cynics who feel that Hindraf’s call to the political parties to support its blueprint – as a pre-condition for its political support in the coming elections – is a betrayal of the reform movement.
To Malaysians prone to or suffering from political amnesia on the meaning and importance of the Hindraf struggle for a truly democratic country, I hope you can visit the Hindraf website ( http://www.hindraf.org/news-statements/927-13-0307-01.html) and spend some time browsing it before you write off the movement.
If surfing is not your inclination, at least let us be reminded of what Hindraf and its leaders have had to endure as narrated in this recent piece of writing of Waytha: