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KUALA LUMPUR: The pro-tem committee members of Indian Rights Action Front (Indraf 2.0) today held a rally to call upon all political parties to look into pressing matters concerning the Indian community and to urge them to provide a solution for Malaysian Indians.
Organised by NGO Malaysian Indian-Voice (MI-V), the rally attracted about 3,000 people to the Girl Guides Hall in Brickfields.
The rally was backed by Pakatan Rakyat and helmed by DAP leader and Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy. Other Indraf pro-tem committee members are V Ganabatirao, R Kengadharan and Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim.
Ganabatirao and Kengadharan were part of the Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) five who were arrested under the Internal Security Act in the aftermath of the Nov 25, 2007 rally.
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Whereas Thasleem was a key figure in galvanising NGOs to oppose the usage of the Interlok novel in secondary schools as the book contained offensive terms against the Indians.
The Indraf rally, themed ‘Unity – Road to Putrajaya’, marks an attempt by the organisers to assume a leadership role for the Indian community by trying to suggest that it has taken over the role played by Hindraf in the run-up to the 2008 general election. No one from Hindraf attended the rally.
Speaker after speaker spoke about the misgivings of the Barisan Nasional government and the changes that would have to be made by a Pakatan federal government for the Indian community.
The organisers also presented 10 resolutions at the rally. Among these include:
- To introduce and implement a ration card system to primarily eradicate both rural and urban poverty ensuring that distribution of benefits is transparent.
- That the government should take constructive steps to preserve Tamil schools, the Tamil language, Tamil literature and to be serious in transforming all 523 Tamil schools as fully aided schools.
- For the government to engineer and expedite a more comprehensive pensionable scheme for those in the private sector.
- For the government to enact an Inter-Race Relation Act and Minority Protection Act to avoid serious violations of universal values.
‘Do the right thing’
Pakatan Rakyat supremo and PKR’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim who spoke at the rally lashed out at Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over his failure to solve the problems besieging the Indian community.
“I want to make a stand. It’s not about politics or a contest for power. It’s not just an Indian issue – it’s about every minority.
“It’s not an Indian problem, it’s a national problem. What is Najib doing about this? No Malaysian should be insulted or abused in this country,” he said.
He also suggested that that race was a major factor for the harrasments faced by Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson S Ambiga in recent weeks.
“What’s Ambiga’s fault until she is subjected to such harrassment? She is fighting for free and fair elections. So just because she’s doing this, a group of people show her their behinds.
“I am Malay – but I hate this kind of behavior. We must know how to fight with purpose. If the prime minister is firm and responsible, do you think these people would get away with something like this?” he asked.
He said that the Umno-led government has failed in its duty to protect the rights of the people.
“Why is it so difficult for a Malaysian-born to have the right to legal identification? I trust the wisdom of the masses that they will do the right thing,” he said.
Lembah Pantai MP and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah meanwhile said Pakatan Rakyat “hears what Indraf wants”.
“We have to defend our rights as a people to build a better Malaysia for our children,” she said.