Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just for the Record, RPK...

In a recent article, RPK noted that there has been some undue ‘Indian bashing’ that has gone on since the outcome in the Hulu Selangor by-election. Instead, RPK argues that there’s arguably more blame to go around for the failure of the Malay vote to come on board with Pakatan.

I happen to concur with his point regarding the latter about the Malay vote, and for that matter even his comments about ‘Indian bashing.’

I know some of you might be saying, “but wait a minute! Weren’t you one of those making a big fuss about lack of Indian support for Zaid?” Actually, if you’re referring to my columns Hindraf: Morally Bankrupt, and A Simpleton in Politics, you’ll see that my concern has been primarily and solely with Hindraf’s tactics and strategy in failing to firmly support Zaid. Some may call this ‘Hindraf bashing.’ I don’t think I would have any problem with that kind of a blunt characterization, but it was by no means Indian bashing. And, there is a critical difference between the two.

Now I realize RPK may not have been referring to my columns as examples of the ‘Indian bashing’ that has gone on (but then again, he might have). Yet, I think his point is a worthy one to acknowledge; as it is to note the distinction between ‘Indian bashing’ and picking a bone with Hindraf in this situation.

My contention always was – and is - that Hindraf had the potential to make a difference and to continue to be a force for undermining the dominance of the racist UMNO. To me, even if Zaid had not won despite having had Hindraf’s support, it would nevertheless have been an important moral victory for Hindraf to be on the right side of this struggle. That, ultimately, is my point.

It’s not fair, as RPK has noted, to place the blame for Pakatan coming up short in Hulu Selangor on the Indians. But I’m convinced that we need to engage Hindraf to realize that working for real change for the marginalised cannot happen, as I have previously argued, by enabling UMNO.

I don’t for one moment blame the poor Indians who are still in the grip of MIC and UMNO. If many have yet to realize that a non-racist agenda, such as Pakatan’s, will serve them better, then it’s the job of so-called leaders to show the way. Just as Pakatan could have surely done a better job with Malay voters, I remain convinced that, despite their differences, Hindraf had a special opportunity to cement an alliance with Pakatan and to make further in-roads toward keeping the pressure on UMNO.

So, I’ll share the sentiment that 'Indian bashing’ in this context is uncalled for. On the other hand, specific groups, including Hindraf, cannot be beyond reproach.

G. Krishnan