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Hindraf embarks on campaign to ’empower’ the masses

Hindraf embarks on campaign to ’empower’ the masses

 | June 20, 2016

The human rights movement does not rule out taking the message of hope to the disadvantaged sections of society in Sabah and Sarawak as well but in collaboration with local NGOs, especially the Orang Asal.

hrtrainingKUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi plans to organize a series of human rights workshops and training programmes nationwide to empower youths, community workers and volunteers on various rights issues. “The objective is to empower them to handle various issues,” said Hindraf Chief P. Waythamoorthy in a telephone interview. “The masses must be aware of their rights and the channels available to address matters of public interest and concern as well, besides their personal predicament.”

Waytha, who’s a senior lawyer in private practice, does not rule out taking the message of hope to the disadvantaged sections of society in Sabah and Sarawak as well but in collaboration with local NGOs, especially the Orang Asal. “We have access to a worldwide network, built up over the years since the Indian Uprising on 25 November, 2007 in the streets of Kuala Lumpur by over 100,000 people.”

The international network, he added, included the US State Department, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. “Most of these contacts were established during the years that I spent in political asylum in the United Kingdom from 2008.”

Waytha, who was briefly in the Federal Cabinet and the Senate after the 13th General Election in 2013, was disclosing that the first workshop was held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday with over 100 Hindraf activists from throughout the peninsula.

The theme of the workshops and training programmes, “It is your turn to change the world. Empower yourself”, was appropriate as it targeted youths who are the future leaders, stressed Waytha. “It’s the youth leaders who would be assisting the underclass.”

The workshop on Sunday, he disclosed, went through several themes touching on freedom of religion, eviction from land by the government or private owners, displaced estate workers, stateless people, education rights and opportunities available to youths in particular.

Waytha said its constituency is huge, comprising 800,000 displaced estate workers and a further 350,000 stateless persons in the peninsula alone. “There are also stateless people in Sabah and Sarawak too.”

“We are referring to the Orang Asal.”

Waytha recalled that the Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had signed a RM4.5 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hindraf on the eve of GE13 to help address the woes of the displaced estate workers and the plight of the stateless people. “Alas, nothing was done although I was in the Federal Government and the Cabinet,” lamented Waytha. “It’s one of the many promises made by BN which it failed to fulfill.”

He warned against lumping the underclass – the displaced estate workers and the stateless people – with those who are in the mainstream and carrying on as if everything was okay. “No one speaks for the underclass except Hindraf,” said Waytha. “The BN Government was not willing to work with us despite getting our votes in 2013.”

“They are more interested in dishing out allocations to so-called NGOs who are not held accountable for the money that they receive from the government, purportedly on behalf of the people.”

Waytha charged that many of these so-called NGOs are in fact linked to BN component parties. “It’s not about helping the people but helping themselves. They are helping themselves to the resources that the government makes available from time to time for the people.”

He doesn’t know whether the government has any objective in mind or was simply lumbering along under the political pressure exerted by the BN component parties who “are more interested in doing business with the people’s money and financing their politics”.