November 25, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: About 30 supporters of the Hindraf Makkal Sakthi movement gathered at the main entrance of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) this morning to commemorate the third anniversary of the historic Hindraf mass demonstration on Nov 25, 2007.

The crowd consisting of men, women and children arrived at 9.30am, claiming to have fasted since 9pm yesterday. They kicked off the peaceful "demonstration" with a prayer, and sat on a ramp in front of the world-acclaimed Petronas Twin Towers to start their hunger strike.

"We are here to remind the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) of our 18-point demand," said Hindraf Makkal Sakthi national information coordinator S Jayathas, the leader of the pack, at a press conference at the sideline of the protest.

Among the demands is the call on the government to end 50 years of abuse of the federal constitution and put in place affirmative action programmes to assist all poor Malaysians, especially Indians.

The Hindraf leader claimed that the Umno-led government had implemented discriminative policies which had led to the marginalisation of the Indian community in many sectors, including education and jobs at government agencies.

"During independence, some 28% of Indians were studying at universities. Now we have less than one percent studying at universities.

"As for the government service, we used to have Indians in top positions like directors-general. Now we can’t even see an Indian post master," claimed Jayathas.

He also said Indian youths were now turning to the world of crime because they had been denied educational and job opportunities.

"Instead of tackling the root cause of the problem, the authorities just take the easy way out by arresting the youths involved in crime under the Emergency Ordinance. If the government can spend millions to rehabilitate Mat Rempits, why not the Indian youths?" Jayathas asked.

When asked why they started fasting since 9pm yesterday, he said it was to commemorate their 18-point demand.

"We are fasting till 3pm today, which means 18 hours of fasting based on our 18 points," he added.

He said that the organisation welcomed any dialogue with Najib and that it was important for both parties to iron out the matter for the benefit of the Indian community.

"We are also the nation’s children. If left unattended, there might be another tsunami," he said, referring to the massive Hindraf rally in 2007 that saw thousands marching from KLCC to the British Embassy to hand over a memorandum.

The group has not been asked by the police to disperse although the men in blue are closely monitoring the situation.

‘We’re on our own’

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters before ending the 18-hour hunger strike at 3pm, Hindraf Makkal Sakthi leader P Uthayakumar said the movement would be launching a book entitled ‘November 25th 2007 Hindraf’.
"The book will deliberate on the Hindraf 2007 rally, ‘Ops Padam’ which was launched by the special branch to break us and our plan to contest in 15 parliamentary seats and 38 state seats,"said the lawyer-turned-activist.
He said the Malaysian Indian community needed political strength to address the discrimination suffered by them.
He said both sides of the political divide were ignoring the community as they are a minority in the nation.
"About 90% of the population consists of the bumiputeras and Chinese.That is why BN and Pakatan Rakyat are not concerned about us. Even in KLCC, not even 0.1 percent of the shops are run by Indians.We are on our own.
The group dispersed peacefully at about 3.15pm after breaking fast by consuming milk.
The movement also handed over their 18-point memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office this morning, giving the memorandum – and receiving an acknowledgment stamp – to one of PM’s aides.
In contrary to previous Hindraf events and protests, the hunger strike today proceeded without any interference from the police. Likewise, Uthayakumar and his delegation were ushered into the PM’s office to submit their memorandum.
In last year’s event, Hindraf hunger-strikers were asked to leave the KLCC premises. They were also dispersed by the police for alleged illegal gathering and their memorandum to the PM was not received by anyone.

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