(The Kuala Lumpur Post) - HINDRAF, the Hindu Rights Action Force, will not be celebrating the government’s decision to lift its four-year ban on it yet because it still wants its 18 demands fulfilled.
Hindraf youth chief S. Thiagarajan said yesterday the group did not discount the possibility of working with the Barisan Nasional on issues related to the Indian community if the conditions were favourable.
“It is a good start to the year. However, we don’t want to celebrate yet because we still want our 18 demands fulfilled by the government,” he said.
He said Hindraf’s stand was if any government, either BN or PR, fulfilled these conditions, then it would work closely with the government.
“At the moment, no one from either side have approached us,” he said.
Thiagarajan said Hindraf leader P. Waythamoorthy would issue an official statement once he returned from abroad.
Among the key demands are equal rights and opportunities for all Malaysians and scrap-ping the special privileges and positions of the Malays, which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Other bodies related to the Indian community and political leaders felt the ban lift by the Home Ministry was a good sign from government as it gave them a chance to air their views on issues affecting them.
Malaysian Indian Progressive Society (MIPAS) president P. Raja Retinam said it was a good decision.
“It shows the government has realised and also a signal it is willing to listen to Hindraf’s 18 demands and other demands from similar NGOs.”
He said Hindraf, as the Indian’s movement or struggle, would play its role for the community in the coming general election.
“During the 2008 poll, 85 per cent from the Indian community voted for PR compared to 2004 when 90 per cent voted for BN.
Raja said MIC’s problem was they never met with Indian NGOs, they labeled as opposition, like MIPAS, over the community’s problems.
“They must change their modus operandi as BN may win the next general election but MIC may lose.”
On Makkal Sakti, he said it did not have the strength to list winnable candidates.
“This NGO is now divided into three (PR, BN and Independent representatives). Hindraf is not one entity anymore.
“MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam said the move reflected the government as being more liberal and tolerant.
“However, the political stand of Hindraf is not clear. Compared to 2008, Hindraf’s influence on the election will be lesser.”
On Hindraf’s demands, he said many issues pertaining to the Indian community were already handled by the government.
MIC Senator Datuk Daljit Singh Dhaliwal said the ban lift was good news for Hindraf.
“Now, they have the opportunity to work together with the government, but it should be based on guidelines and regulations.
“Perhaps, they can work closely with MIC and BN like other NGOs, such as the Indian Progressive Society (IPS), to strengthen Indian unity and work together for MIC’s nine parliamentary seats in the next general election.”
He said when Hindraf held the 2007 rally, they changed scenario for the community by voicing out on jobs and education, among others.
“Meanwhile, MIC had started working with the community and most had already supported BN.”
PPP Youth chief Harridz Mohan said the ban lift would give Hindraf freedom to air their views more appropriately.
“We should not ban any organisation in the country. It is like taking away their constitutional rights.’
He said the move had nothing to do with the coming general election or gaining support from Indians as the majority of people were back to support the BN.
“It also gives more headroom for Indians to play their role in society.Harridz said the two new political parties born out of the Hindraf movement, the Makkal Sakti and Human Rights Party Malaysia, were supporting the ruling coalition.
“Despite differences and different political paths, Indians are more united and focused on bringing in the right government, and that is for sure, the BN.”
He said it was vital for the community to put themselves on one platform to show unity instead in a fragmented manner.