Interlok: Pakatan’s sabotage
In Insider today, ‘Indian leaders see silver lining in Hindraf washout‘
We’ve reproduced the article in its entirety below, and highlighted several passages in bold that we will comment on at the bottom — ‘Illegal to be Indian’.
Quote / ANALYSIS (in Insider), Feb 28 — Hindraf’s failure yesterday to muster support in the vein of its November 2007 zenith has been greeted with relief by opposition party leaders in the DAP, PKR and even PAS.
Organised to demonstrate against Umno’s alleged racism and the use of the “Interlok” novel in the secondary school syllabus, the protest fizzled out after only about 300 people turned up — well short of the 3,000 that the organisers had expected.
Sunday’s protest was a far cry from that of November 25, 2007, which altered the political landscape of the country.
Most Indian opposition leaders in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), which has split ways with Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar, were anxious over the size of the turnout as this would indicate if the lawyer still wielded influence among the Indian community.
They were ready to adjust their relationship with Uthayakumar according to the impact of the protest.
“If the turnout was big, we have to kowtow to him; if not, it indicates he is a spent force,” said a DAP MP who declined to be named. “While he has hardcore supporters but his influence over the Tamil masses generally has dramatically diminished.”
While key opposition Indian leaders like Penang’s Dr P. Ramasamy, Ipoh Barat MP S. Kulasegaran, Kapar MP S. Manicavasagam and Sungkai state assemblyman A. Sivanesan and many others had rode the Hindraf wave to victory in 2008, none turned up yesterday to support the protest.
DAP’s Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman M. Manoharan, a loyal friend of Uthayakumar and who had been incarcerated with the Hindraf founder in Kamunting, was the only one to show up.
He also gave a press conference condemning police action because all the other key Hindraf leaders — from Uthayakumar down like Information chief S. Jayathas and state chiefs — had all been arrested early morning, leaving the protest without a unifying leader.
Yesterday, it was apparent Uthayakumar’s calculated gamble to use the controversy surrounding the “Interlok” novel to recapture the political momentum had failed.
“At one time, he could gather up to 50,000 people to protest. Now he can only get about 300,” said one PKR Indian leader.
“This shows how much political ground he has lost since the 2007 protest,” the PKR leader said, adding that all the Indian NGOs that were protesting against the “Interlok” novel had also withdrawn from sight when Uthayakumar entered the picture.
“Except for his hardcore supporters, he has isolated himself… the mainstream opposition don’t want to touch him,” the PKR man said.
After watching from the sidelines, Uthayakumar waded into the “Interlok” controversy by announcing yesterday’s protest a month earlier.
A vehicle convoy he organised a last week as a precursor also did not draw the thousands they had expected.
Hindraf/Human Rights Party (HRP) hostility towards Pakatan Rakyat was also visible in an incident during the protest on Sunday.
An attempt by Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo to associate himself with the protest had been rebuffed by the protestors.
According to media reports, the protesters asked Gobind, who tried to give an impromptu press conference in Sentul, to leave — allegedly because they did not believe in the mainstream opposition anymore.
The mainstream opposition, seeking to win Malay support, had avoided becoming entangled in the “Interlok” issue — something that Hindraf supporters see as a “betrayal” of the Indian cause.
Uthayakumar has fallen out with nearly all of PR’s Indian leaders, calling them “mandores” working for the opposition pact’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
He extended the same label to Indian leaders in the Barisan Nasional, leaving himself few allies to draw from.
In 2007, Uthayakumar and Hindraf enjoyed broad support of Indian NGOs, opposition politicians, and even MIC grassroots leaders — many of whom also joined in the historic protest in the city.
Yesterday, Uthayakumar stood only with his most faithful supporters.
An example of the alienation was a text message which DAP Senator S. Ramakrishnan had sent out before yesterday’s protest.
“Don’t fall for selfish people who are using you for their selfish aims. Go to Merlimau not KLCC,” the text read.
Since the success of 2007, the changing political landscape and Uthayakumar’s own erratic stance has left both the leader and his movement increasingly isolated.
With the next general election seen looming, he will soon have a hard choice to make. Press on with his diminishing hardcore support and risk slipping into irrelevance. Or renew his embrace of Pakatan to try and survive the onslaught. — Insider/Unquote/
Illegal to be Indian
Hartal was there. We saw how police were stationed at the LRT stations to deter the public, and police squads and FRU everywhere. Ordinary people (even whites whom one would presume could be tourists) were barred from KLCC. If critics are so confident in their opinion that Uthaya no longer has support, why should the police have carried out the widespread pre-emptive arrests, and stopped and searched Indian pedestrians (racial profiling)?
Some 80 Hindraf people were detained by police in the run-up to the rally for travelling in convoys and just for organising forums. One man was even detained preemptively before the forum could be organised. And the key Hindraf leaders had all been arrested since early on Feb 27 (the morning of the rally), and Uthaya arrested even before he left his house.
(1) Pakatan wanted the rally to fail? Now why are we not surprised? We said in our previous posting, “Do the politicians care at all how Interlok will affect students? Must everything be about votes for Pakatan?”
(2) Almost none of the Pakatan leaders or non-Indians turned up. Great, Hidup Interlok! Let your children enjoy. (Pakatan leaders are more concerned that Uthaya should be seen to have lost Indian support than they are about the issues surrounding the novel and the Education Ministry’s BTN agenda.)
(3) As to the following argument: “After watching from the sidelines, Uthayakumar waded into the “Interlok” controversy by announcing yesterday’s protest a month earlier.” Well damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.
Whether he was on the sidelines on not, whether he decided to step back by choice (to allow others take the lead precisely because of all the eggs that Pakatan keep throwing at him — it’s heads Uthaya loses, tails his detractors win). The question still remains: Where was Pakatan’s initiative on this the last three months? Was it the Pakatan people who informed the public about the anti-Indian, anti-Chinese content of the book? Obviously not (our question was rhetorical).
(4) Gobind, giving you the benefit of the doubt, you should also understand that you were being seen as opportunistic (c.f. DAP to use Interlok in Tenang, says Kula). If you’re sincere, stick to issues — see Interlok: Fail BM (this novel), fail SPM.
(5) To DAP Senator S. Ramakrishnan, UP YOURS TOO!
(6) Now can you understand why Uthaya disdains “the mainstream opposition”?