By Joe Fernandez (FreeMalaysiaToday)
KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, the ad hoc apolitical human rights movement directed from London, will flog the Borneo Agenda at the British Parliament after the New Year holidays, at the United Nations in April and at a proposed forum in London.
Hindraf chairperson P Waytha Moorthy disclosed this in a telephone call last night.
“We have asked Jeffrey Kitingan’s United Borneo Front (UBF) to e-mail us a one-and-a-half page submission on its Borneo Agenda to place before the British Parliament’s special committee on Malaysia,” said Waytha. “The committee will take up the matter with the Foreign Office.”
Hindraf will also help organise a one-day Borneo Agenda forum together with the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) of the United Kingdom at the British Parliament.
Also on the horizon is a series of meetings at the United Nations in April next year, either in New York or in Geneva, on the Borneo Agenda. Again, Hindraf will help organise the meetings for UBF.
Waytha is confident that the Borneo Agenda, unveiled last Thursday here, at UBF’s launch by Jeffrey, was a good cause to bring to the attention of the international community.
“We need to settle whether the Federation of Malaysia ceased to exist when Singapore left in 1965,” said Waytha. “It appears that Sabah and Sarawak became independent at the same time as Singapore but were retained unawares in the Malayan Federation of 1957 which was quietly brought back in 1965 when the Malaysia partnership collapsed.”
The Hindraf chief opines that this anomaly is the reason why Putrajaya has been in non-compliance on the Malaysia Agreement of 1963. The agreement sees the federation, discounting Singapore, as one based on three territories – Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak – in a partnership based on equality. In addition, Sabah and Sarawak had autonomy within the 1963 federation.
Asked why Hindraf was taking an interest in the Borneo Agenda, Waytha said that his movement was committed towards the third force – equidistant between BN and PR – led by Jeffrey. Besides, they don’t want to be accused of being concerned only about the Indians as a marginalised community.
“We don’t want to be continually accused of being racists,” said Waytha. “That’s why we want to help out other marginalised communities in Malaysia wherever we can. This will neutralise those seeking to tar and discredit us.”
He reckons that since Hindraf has established a good international network spanning the globe with activists, besides London, in New York, Brussels, Geneva, India, Australia and New York, it is well-placed to reach out to the other marginalised communities in Malaysia.
Besides the Indian underclass, Sabah and Sarawak, Waytha said the other marginalised communities are the Orang Asli and the Christians in Peninsular Malaysia, among others.
“The marginalised communities in Malaysia, across both sides of the South China Sea, must stand together as part of the third force,” said Waytha. “We can empower each other. Individually, we may be of no consequence but united we are a strong force in the agenda for change and reform.”
Waytha does not think that UBF, being an NGO like Hindraf, would be less effective than a political vehicle to take up the case of Malaysian Borneo.
“In fact, an NGO like UBP would be the best vehicle for the Borneo Agenda,” said Waytha. “A cause like this must not be politicised. Having a political vehicle will merely politicise the cause and lead to divisions.”
There must be total unity across the political divide, said Waytha, to make the Borneo Agenda a success.
He agrees with Jeffrey that the existing system – comprising political parties and the two national coalitions, that is, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat – had failed the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
“The BN has failed Sabah and Sarawak for the last 47 years and will continue to fail,” said Waytha. “Where BN has failed, it’s not possible for Pakatan to succeed. We must be realistic. Otherwise, another half century will pass by with no results.”
Waytha remains confident that Jeffrey can bring all Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak together in UBF to speak with one voice on the Borneo Agenda. He will succeed by taking an apolitical approach, he added, “He failed before because of politics.”
Drawing parallels with UBF, Waytha pointed out that Hindraf was also an NGO which was effective because it could avoid the kind of bickering that goes on in political parties. The NGOs, being dedicated to single causes, could focus on their raison de etre and not be bogged down by constant politicking, and the fight for posts and positions, said Waytha. “This was pointed out by Jeffrey last Thursday.”
Jeffrey, when contacted, disclosed that he had asked “UBF economist Zainal Ajamain to prepare the brief submission on the Borneo Agenda” for Hindraf’s submission to the Special Committee on Malaysia at the UK Parliament.
He said that he was not sure whether his presence was required at the Special Committee’s meeting since “it was such short notice”.
He will decide on taking part in the forum in London being arranged by the HRF and Hindraf once the details have been finalised.
Jeffrey certainly intends to be at the UN in April together with Hindraf, whether in New York or Geneva, to explain the Borneo Agenda for the benefit of the international community.
He’s expected to be accompanied by Zainal, his aide Phillip Among @ Daniel Dell Fidelis, and lawyer and social activist Nilakrisna James, the grand-daughter of OKK Sedomon Gunsanad, the Sabah nationalist who opposed the formation of Malaysia and died heart-broken in 1966.