Hindraf unhappy over failure to win posts in Malaysian party


Kuala Lumpur : The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has failed to clinch a place in Malaysia’s Democratic Action Party (DAP) and said it feels let down by its erstwhile electoral ally.

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Two of its jailed leaders, M. Manoharan and V. Ganabatirau, failed to win the organisational poll for the central executive committee (CEC), getting only 15 percent of the delegates’s votes Saturday.

The two are among the five Hindraf leaders serving two-year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) after they organised a massive protest rally on Nov 25, 2007 alleging discrimination against the two million-plus Tamil Hindus in jobs and education. Hindraf claims to speak for the Indians, predominantly Tamil Hindus.

Pleas by political parties, human rights bodies and NGOs have not been heeded by the government, which alleges that the Hindraf has links with Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The DAP denies that the Hindraf or its cause have been forsaken and says the two lost because the polls were highly competitive, the New Straits Times reported Monday.

DAP’s Indian origin chairman Karpal Singh has fought each of the Hindraf’s cases in court and has supported their case in parliament and in public.

Hindraf, according to the New Straits Times, collaborated with the party in the March general election. DAP gave the Kota Alam Shah parliamentary seat in Selangor state to detained Hindraf leader Manoharan in exchange for their support to capitalise on Indian sentiments.

The Hindraf called on its 5,000 members to vote for the opposition in the general election.

“It worked. Manoharan won the seat comfortably with a 7,184-majority, despite not campaigning even a single day (his wife campaigned for him instead),” the newspaper said.

Manoharan and Ganabatirau were two of the 58 CEC hopefuls and had garnered 105 and 106 votes respectively out of 705 votes, placing them 39th and 38th on the list. They failed to make it to the top 20, which would have given them seats in the CEC, and Hindraf members are unhappy.

Although Karpal Singh, M. Kulasegaran and P. Ramasamy were re-elected to the CEC and given top party positions, K.P. Samy, who claims to represent Ganabatirau, said the Indian representation was “too thin”.

“They only got 15 percent of the votes,” he rued. “Indians played a major role in the last general election. Hindraf played a major role. But these heroes of Hindraf were not recognised. They should be honoured.”

Samy had stood surety in bail for the 118 Hindraf members charged with illegal assembly and is a friend of Ganabatirau and Manoharan.

“We don’t expect victory but 15 percent of the votes is like total rejection. We must send a strong signal to the party that it has to be racially representative.”

However, re-elected party vice-chairman Kulasegaran said Hindraf had not been forgotten.

“They still got a sizeable number of votes,” he said, adding that DAP members were practical when it came to voting in leaders who could perform for the 90,707-strong organisation.

Ramasamy, who was elevated from international secretary to deputy secretary-general, said the party had always championed the Hindraf cause.

“The secretary-general of the party has repeatedly urged the release of the Hindraf detainees under the Internal Security Act. It is just that the party polls are highly competitive, that’s all,” he said.

But Samy was not convinced. “Manoharan could not go out and campaign in the general election. Yet he won resoundingly. How do you explain that?” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.