Rift in Hindu group ahead of Malaysian polls

Singapore, April 27 (IANS) There is dissension within a major Hindu rights group in Malaysia, ahead of that country’s general elections next month.

A rift between brothers P. Waythamoorthy and P. Uthayakumar of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has become apparent after an SMS started circulating that Waythamoorthy had been sacked as chairman of the group by its “supreme council” and that Uthayakumar would be championing the group’s cause, according to the local media.

Hindraf projects itself as a Hindu rights protection group and is extremely vocal in its criticism of the policies of the Barisan Nasional party.

Hindraf had started as a coalition of 30 non-governmental organisation and had gained prominence in multi-racial Malaysia for its actions in the aftermath of the destruction of some Hindu temples in that country in the past few years.

However, controversy simmered over the past one week after Waythamoorthy’s faction in Hindraf signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Barisan Nasional April 21 where Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak endorsed a blueprint for uplifting the Malaysian Indian community, The Star newspaper reported.

Indians comprise a little over seven percent of the country’s total population of nearly 30 million.

The blueprint highlights issues about displaced Indian plantation workers in the country, education until tertiary level, job opportunities in the government sector and financial loans to Indian entrepreneurs, according to the report.

Waythamoorthy has dismissed reports that he had been sacked and said that there was no “supreme council” within Hindraf.

“He (Uthayakumar) left Hindraf to form his own human rights group,” he was quoted as saying.

“He’s always been a one-man show, he disagrees with us so he got a few people and now he is saying that I’ve been sacked and he’s the de facto leader.”

Claiming that 700 Hindraf members had turned up to endorse the April 21 MoU, Waythamoorthy said that the interests of the Indian community would be better served by the Barisan Nasional.

Malaysia goes to the polls May 5.

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