Hindraf-PKR love affair ends

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 – Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is staring at a permanent and damaging break with the Hindraf/Makkal Shakti movement after Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam resigned today as the deputy chairman of Selangor PKR.

He blamed the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor led by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for failing to fulfil the promises made to the Indian community during the March general election.

“We feel cheated, we are disappointed, nothing has been done,” he said at a packed press conference at the Crystal Crown hotel in Petaling Jaya.

Manikavasagam remains an ordinary PKR member.

At today’s press conference, he showed open hostility to Khalid, party vice-president R. Sivarasa and Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, describing them as individuals who have done nothing for the Indians although they claim to be Indian leaders.

“My decision is final,” he said adding however that joining MIC is not an option. “We are exploring several other options and other party leaders have called me. However I will first talk with Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy in India next week before making my next move.”

He said he will also discuss with PKR Ketua Umum Anwar Ibrahim to see whether the opposition leader would offer a fair deal for Indians.

He accused Dr Xavier of holding “too many” positions and alleged that Sivarasa had claimed to be an Indian leader but had not called for a single meeting to discuss Indian woes.

Sivarasa had said previously that as a multi-racial party, PKR cannot have Indian-centric policies and that its leaders represented all races.

However Manikavasagam rubbished that, saying PKR made specific promises to Indian voters and had failed to make good on them.

He also alleged PKR remains Malay-centric and campaigned for the Malay agenda, pointing out that Indians had not been offered positions in GLCs, state agencies and senior positions in local councils.

“Even in Kampung Sentosa where 95 per cent of residents are Indians, Khalid appointed a Malay as the ketua kampung,” Manikavasagam said.

In his two paragraph resignation letter dated Dec 31, Manikavasagam said he was resigning with immediate effect because “PKR did not view his opinions, a person elected by the people, seriously.”

A meeting to be held by over 100 PKR and Indian NGO leaders called by former PKR deputy secretary general P.Jenapala was moved from the Crystal Crown hotel to Grand Pacific for unknown reasons.

The meeting, called to discuss the problems Manikavasagam had with the PKR and how to respond to the PKR shortcomings, started at 4 pm and was also attended by Manikavasagam.

Unlike Dr Xavier or Sivarasa, Manikavasagam has strong roots in the Hindraf and Makkal Shakti movement, having cut his teeth with Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar and his brother, the movement chairman P. Waythamoorthy.

Manikavasagam rose to prominence with Uthayakumar’s Police Watch NGO before joining PKR and taking up many Indian-based issues including the 2007 death of S. Sujatha, an actress who was romantically linked with Vell Paari, the son of MIC president Datuk Ser S. Samy Vellu.

It would be a big blow to PKR and the PR alliance if Manikavasagam quits the party and joins forces with Uthayakumar and pushes the Hindraf/Makkal Shakti movement away from the opposition into an independent force.