Will Pakatan commit to a roadmap for true democracy?

P. Waytha Moorthy, HINDRAF Chairman

Many have forgotten that Pakatan Rakyat and the agenda to capture Putrajaya at 12th general election became a reality after the tsunami of HINDRAF on November 25, 2007. Till then, even the top leadership of Pakatan never for once imagined the prospect of reaching so close to Putrajaya. The cry of Makkal Sakthi reverberated in every household irrespective of race or creed. Yes, there was a shift of the mindset of the grassroots Indians, which was the main cause of the now forgotten impact caused by the Indian voters.

The great tsunami brought about the much spoken about “change” by the PR leadership.

Pakatan can’t go on with the rhetoric of change without defining its true meaning. Since gaining tremendously in the last GE they have been talking about the change that is needed for Malaysia. Promises of accountability, openness and eradication of corruption have been made to convince Malaysians of their agenda of “change.”

But let us be honest – these promises are good on paper but the true change starts with what is being done for the poor and discriminated. Every aspiring politician speaks those words which are no more than vague promises made without commitment or convictions (what we call kosong politics).

For a Human Rights Movement like Hindraf/HRP, which represents the poor, and underclass, those promises are meaningless. Honestly, it does not matter to the poor man suffering on the ground level if politicians are corrupt or if the country will be provided with good governance should there be change of Government. The poor man needs to be fed first. He needs an income. He needs a house. The almost half million internally displaced Indian labourers’ from the estates need to be provided with compensation for their displaced lives, training opportunities to cope with their displacement, proper relocation and affordable housing.

Since 1975 they have become the new urban poor and underclass who are suffering on a daily basis. A large number of them are stateless and a good 150,000 such stateless children are not attending schools because the UMNO Government dictates so. By virtue of being stateless, many are unable to avail of the basic benefits of healthcare, social welfare, employment, driving licenses, acquire property, etc.  What does it matter to these men and women if a new PR government is not corrupt or can provide good governance. These promises of change do not matter to them.

PR should understand their version of change is only cosmetic when viewed from the point of view of the common man, leave alone the underclass. True democracy requires much more inclusive change not continuing benefits to only those who are already benefiting from the UMNO crafted system. Instead, they need to come out with a bold new commitment for true change and draw a road map for true democracy.

It is time the main component parties of PR, the PKR shed their UMNO, MCA and MIC mentality (I say this because PKR is filled with BN rejects) and start thinking seriously about getting rid of a REGIME. The UMNO regime has been monopolising, bullying, plundering and shortchanging the country and its people for a good 53 years and everyone realises this.

So talk of capturing Putrajaya should be backed up with a concrete commitment for CHANGE instead of mere rhetoric’s.

So what Democratic changes are we looking for?

Let me list down the following basic democratic changes, which in our opinion mean TRUE CHANGE;

1) Clear and unambiguous commitment to the principles of Equality for all as stipulated in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

2) Strict adherence to the original spirit and intention of the drafting of Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution, i.e. the Special Position of the Malays and Natives in limited areas and not the false notion of the Malay Special Privileges and the “sapu bersih/habis” concept that have paralysed non-Malays and stymied the country for 53 years.

3) Commitment to amend the Federal Constitution to incorporate a truly impartial and independent Constitutional Court and its composition of Judges takes into account seniority, experience and appointment are to be open and transparent and consists of members of all races equally.

4) Protection of Freedom of Religion as enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All conflicts of religious status of persons etc should be adjudicated in the civil courts.

The original intention of amendments to Article 121 (1) of the Federal Court should be strictly adhered to, i.e. that the role of Muslim syariah courts, are to strictly adjudicate upon matrimonial and property matters involving Muslims only as per the debates and adoption of the new article 121 1 (A) in the Parliament Hansard in 1988.

All places of worships belonging to non-Muslims are to be equally recognised as PLACES OF WORSHIP (many do not realise that non-Muslim places of worships do not have a status) and land titles issued and permanently gazetted. Provisions be made under Federal funding for the establishment of new places of worships for all religious groups in a fair and orderly manner in new townships and the government to provide for its maintenance as granted to Muslim places of worships. Land titles granted to all places of worships, which had existed before Merdeka and the rights of these Religious groups be respected.

All persons are allowed to choose a Religion of his/her choice without state interference.

5) PR commits taking over responsibility of Education fully, i.e. to provide land and funding equally for all schools including vernacular schools and upgrade and maintain all vernacular schools and schools belonging to minority groups, equally without discrimination. The responsibility of Education of all classes of citizens would be shouldered by the Government and the distinction of fully aided and non-fully aided school should be abolished.

6) Commit to revamp and clean the Police Force and civil service of its current corrupted particularly the top ranking officers.

7) Return the status quo of the monarchy prior to the amendments of 1981.

8) Commit to providing welfare and housing assistance of quality to all Malaysian poor equally under the welfare and housing ministry programs without any segregation/discrimination on grounds of race and religion.

9) Commit to the formation of a Royal commission of Inquiry into the Racist Agenda of BTN, which has trained almost 80% of its Civil servants to implement racist policies in Malaysia.

10) A royal commission and a truth and reconciliation commission to inquire into the abuse of power and corruption of UMNO regime over the past 53 years since independence.

11) Give the Borneo states its promised autonomy as per the 1963 Malaysia agreement and hold a commission of inquiry to investigate the issuance of citizenships to more than 1.5 million Muslims from around the region of Philippines and Indonesia which intended to dilute the Christian population in Sabah of their Political power. Return 50% of its wealth in natural resources back to the Borneo states for it to administer.

12) To revamp and draw concrete plans to implement new economic programs to benefit all Malaysians irrespective of race and Religion and announce these proposed plans before the next GE.

13) To pass a new Race Relations Act to make racial segregation/discrimination a crime in line with the International standards.

14) To adopt and ratify all International Human rights treaties and bring Malaysia on par with modern democratic society in the United Nations.

15) To revamp the Human Rights Commission to give it the power to initiate and recommend prosecutions independently of the Attorney-General and these recommendations are to be adhered by the Attorney-General (commit to amend the Federal Constitution to make the necessary changes). The appointment of members of the commission to be made open and transparent and its composition to be of people with integrity and credible Human rights record and contributions.

16) To make an immediate commitment to resolve (not look into) the plight of the marginalized society that is plaguing the country which includes;

* The estimated 350,000 stateless Malaysian born Indians.

* Provide equal economic, social and educational opportunities for all marginalised community and declare openly programs and workable budgets to bring them on par with other communities and place them in the mainstream economic agenda.

17) To fully implement recommendations of the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian Police established by the King on 4th February 2004. To form an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the extra-judicial killings committed by the Royal Malaysian police.

18) To reduce annual defence budgets and mega projects and commit to allocate a minimum of RM5 Billion per annum to uplift Malaysia’s marginalised society and further RM5 billion of National wealth to help spur economic activity amongst the poor and marginalized.

19) To abolish the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act and all repressive Laws and provisions in the Police Act, Printing Press and Publication Act, etc.

20) Commit to liberalise licenses/permits for publications and allow free airtime equally to all political parties during General Elections campaign period.

The above are the true democratic changes that we in Hindraf/HRP would like to see. Would PR share our dreams for a better Malaysia?

It is an insult to one’s intelligence to float the idea and notion that “they must vote us in because UMNO is evil and we will bring about changes”!

What changes are you talking about Pakatan? We do not wish to be fooled into voting for change only to find ourselves being oppressed by the new forces of Change!


The PKR-DAP-PAS axis is suspect. They can’t see eye-to-eye in a real sense but somehow seem to have tasted limited power and aspire to take full control of the country on a loosely knitted coalition based on some amorphous notion of democratic change. PAS strongly advocates an Islamic state and ideology and will never accept the International standards of democracy and humanity. DAP on the other hand advocates socialist democratic principles but once tasted limited power in Penang has shown they are no more capitalist than UMNO and are equally capable of betraying the trust placed on them when within a year of coming to power they demolished the Kampong Buah Pala, committed gross violations of human rights of the poor of Kampong Buah Pala.

Worse, now they are bending backwards just to please PAS for the sake of Malay Muslim voters with Guan Eng claiming to take a leaf from a Caliph and DAP MP’s wayang kulit of selendang clad visits to suraus. We have never seen even the mandore parties MCA or GERAKAN doing that but we see that aplenty with the LIM dynasty hell bent on grasping power at all costs.  PKR on the other hand is filled with UMNO, MCA and MIC rejects and formed not to champion a political cause but more as a vehicle for Anwar Ibrahim to become the next Prime Minister. Any new comer who aspires for a change and reforms are termed as chameleons and branded as planted to destroy within.

So how can a purely Human Rights Movement like Hindraf and HRP trust the suspect alliance of PKR-DAP-PAS axis? I believe we are not the only ones in doubt. I have personally spoken to many NGO’s and friends in the Human rights circle and they are in agreement that PR is not genuine in bringing about change that they often speak of. Why should genuine grassroots movement like us take their words as gospel truth when they dare not even spell out in the open their change and reform agenda? I challenge the top leadership of PR come in the open to say that I’m wrong and they are committed to the above changes which I believe many peace and democracy thirst Malaysians would love to see.

Would they? No, I don’t think so. They are just not ready for the true CHANGE. We have to take this country out of its slumber and rebuild Malaysia into a progressive and democratic country. To do this there must be genuine political will for Democracy, Good governance and Human Rights.

But what kosong politicians would like to champion and portray is Human Rights from top to bottom. For us in Hindraf/HRP, we are committed to the fundamental principles of Human Rights of individuals and not the Human Rights of the privileged.

So wake up PR and stop demonising all who speak the truth and say what is right and just.

Up until the Kampong Buah Pala saga, HINDRAF was a gem of a Movement because it delivered the 80% Indian votes free of charge to PR. The moment we stood our ground on the KBP issue and the subsequent inaction and inefficiencies of state PR Governments we fell into the list of an extremist and fanatical movement. Have you guys forgotten that this was the very same label UMNO painted on us on a daily basis in their media post 25/11? And yet the grassroots were with us because they recognize we ARE THEIR TRUE VOICE.

I had the opportunity to speak to Dato Seri Anwar as early as January 2009 on the inefficiencies of the respective PR state Governments and had requested for urgent meeting to look into ways on how we could complement each other and help the Pakatan states overcome their so-called teething problems in solving the main issues affecting the Indians. Unfortunately he never got around fulfilling his promises perhaps because of our stand on the KBP issue, for which we do not regret. It surprised me when labels of racist outfit were painted by him when he clearly understood the issues and pertinent questions, which I had raised during the many tele-conversations I had with him in 2009.

The Political structure of Malaysia is so used to Mandore Politics that I feel the Pakatan leadership does not want to disrupt that set up as much as BN as they would be more comfortable with “weak Indian leaders” who are either not educated, non-professionals or the elite Indians who are aware they do not command the grassroots support and hence need to cling on to PR leadership in the ticket of being multi racial leaders.

We in Hindraf/HRP are committed to not only break loose from the shackles of UMNO hegemony but also the Mandore system which has been used by both divide of politicians to rule and control the grassroots Indians. It appears it is in the interest of both UMNO and Pakatan to stop us from breaking this Mandore system as it is easier to deal with the Mandores in their respective parties than dealing with a strong movement which is committed towards the cause of Human rights and stands its grounds of principal rather than accept some bread crumbs contracts and funds thrown at them. For taking a principled stand we are termed racist and extremists.

Today it is Zaid who is slaughtered for saying and wanting to take the right direction. He is being demonised and branded a racist and chameleon sent by UMNO to break the party from within. Last year, it was Sabah’s Dr Jeffrey. It is rumoured that Anwar did not want a Christian Sabah leader and he was targeted as a traitor for his Borneo autonomy demand. Is Pakatan going to demonise each and every Movement and individual who are not in tandem with their vague and uncommitted politics?

We in Hindraf/HRP are in no hurry. We are prepared to wait another 53 years if it means ultimately getting a true democratic country. After all, the blacks in America fought a “war” for more than 200 years to be recognised as equal citizens. The Indians fought another 250 years to gain independence. It took centuries for the French to be rid of the monarchy.

All those people endured torture and contempt. We in Hindraf/HRP have just started crawling but we will never be cowed nor bought with the offer of privileges of the powerful. Yes we are a minority community and may not have the numbers to bring about changes we want.  But believe me, in time to come, Malaysia would eventually realise the true form of democracy and we and our great grandchildren would wait and continue the struggle till then.  WE ARE IN NO HURRY, WE MAY OR MAY NOT ACHIEVE OUR GOALS IN THIS LIFETIME BUT WE HAVE DEFINITELY SOWED THE SEEDS FOR A TRUE DEMOCRACY IN MALAYSIA.