LEADING Malaysian Human Rights advocate P Waytha Moorthy entered the tenth day of his hunger strike on March 19. He has been on a diet of water demanding immediate end to marginalisation of minority Indians in Malaysia.
Shri Moorthy is an internationally known human rights defender and is the founder of HINDRAF, a Human Rights Defender Organization in Malaysia. HINDRAF has been in the forefront of the human rights struggle in Malaysia generally and the human rights struggle of the marginalised Indian minority specifically. He returned to Malaysia from a four and half year exile in the UK in last August. Since his return he has been actively engaged in trying to bring the ruling party and the opposition political coalition to the table for discussion on a plan to correct long standing problem of marginalisation of the ethnic Indian minority.
The political class is in denial of the seriousness of the problem and continues to ignore the problem. Having attempted so many initiatives to correct the problems over the last several years and having met with a stonewall in each such endeavor Shri Moorthy has now decided to embark on this hunger strike to move the issue from being a political one to being a more serious one of national values and morality.
The specific objective of the hunger strike is to attract the attention domestically as well as internationally on the fact that the current system of electoral democracy in Malaysia entrenches the process of marginalisation of the minority groups in the country by the numerically and economically superior ethnic groups. He also wants to sensitise the entire Malaysian polity to the problems and issues of the marginalisation of the minorities in the country, something which is not as well understood or known because of the images and narratives created by the ruling elite.
Through this protest he wants to inform the Malaysian public more widely about Hindraf’s five year blueprint to bring the marginalised Indian poor into the mainstream of national development and to show it as the forerunner of plans for all marginalised minority communities. The blueprint also seeks the formation of a Minority affairs Ministry to permanently address the problems of all marginalised communities.
He wants to exert international pressure on the Government to respond to the human rights demands of the minorities of the country. His specific demands to end the strike include, the Malaysian Government led by Dato Seri Najib Razak must endorse Hindraf’s five year blueprint in a binding manner to commit to a plan of implementation of all the six proposals in the blueprint as long as they remain in the Government. The Government-in-waiting of the Pakatan coalition led by Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim must endorse the blueprint in a binding manner and commit to its implementation, should they be forming the next Federal Government. (FOC)