MAKKAL SAKTHI VERSUS HINDRAF
The formation of a new Indian-based political party by a breakaway disgruntled group from the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) did not come as a shocker.
Those with close links to the movement would testify that it was long coming.
Contrary to the pessimism expressed by some that it would split Hindraf, the newly formed Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party (MMSP) would strengthen the unity and struggle of the minority rights group.
Suspended Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanenthiran’s move to go on his own to establish MMSP is seen by several observers to do more good than harm to Hindraf.
In the short term, the Indian community would be confused with MMSP’s popularity propaganda, which would naturally invite widespread publicity by the mainstream media.
However, in long run, the people, including some in MMSP, would return to the original struggle led by Hindraf.
Meeting with PM
Sources close to Thanenthiran said the latter met Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in Putrajaya recently. The meeting was arranged by senior aides of a powerful Barisan Nasional Indian leader.
It was purportedly arranged after PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim turned down Thanenthiran’s lobby to become the Pakatan Rakyat candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-election.
Sources said Najib, the Umno president, had apparently asked Thanenthiran and his friends on what measures should be taken by the Putrajaya administration to woo back Indians to BN.
Thanenthiran’s five-man delegation then laid down the release of the three remaining Hindraf leaders – P Uthayakumar, T Vasanthakumar and M Manoharan – as a major step forward.
Najib had earlier ordered the release of two other Hindraf leaders – V Ganabatirau and R Kengadharan – hours after taking office as the country’s new leader last month.
The five were detained under the Internal Security Act in December 2007 in connection with a mammoth anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Thanenthiran had also apparently told Najib to allow the London-based Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy to return safely to Malaysia.
He also suggested that the Putrajaya administration implement Hindraf’s 18-point demand to improve the living standards and conditions of Indians in the country.
Sources said Najib had told Thanenthiran that the government was already working on this.
One such step was the recent RM80 million allocation set aside by the federal government for Tamil schools in the country.
When the allocation was first announced during the Bukit Selambau by-election campaign period, Thanenthiran lauded Najib’s move to help Tamil schools, contrary to the stand taken by Waythamoorthy who dismissed the allocation as an “election gimmick and peanuts.”
The 18-point demand, touching on contentious issues such as housing, education and employment was drafted by Waythamoorthy with the assistance of several aides back in 2007, when Thanenthiran and his MMSP colleagues were not in Hindraf.
Since Thanenthiran and his colleagues are no longer in Hindraf, they have automatically relinquished their right to deploy the Hindraf 18-point charter as their political cause.
They have to now come up with their own charter to manifest their political agenda to the public.
Battle line has been drawn
Despite denials by Thanenthiran, the fast track approval given to MMSP’s registration raised suspicion that the new political party is linked to BN.
Truth is, when Thanenthiran was the Hindraf national coordinator, there were widespread complaints that his leadership style had caused a rift in the movement.
Thanenthiran’s meeting with Najib was the last straw as far as Waythamoorthy was concerned.
Following this, the 10-man local Hindraf coordinating body was suspended in move to alienate the Butterworth-based Thanenthiran.
According to sources, It would not be a surprise if a certain former ISA detainee was to helm MMSP.
Observers suggest that Thanenthiran could have already dealt with Vasanthakumar on the matter. It is known that Uthayakumar and Vasanthakumar do not see eye-to-eye.
The imminent return of Waythamoorty to Malaysia in the next one month would further spice up the Indian political scene.
The battle line has been drawn to undermine Hindraf and promote MMSP as the genuine and ultimate champion of Indian rights, benefits and interests.