Waytha Moorthy has just ended his hunger strike. He has been on strike for 21 days. He is unable to respond to your questions personally for obvious reasons and he has asked me to respond on his behalf.
The responses though they come from me closely mirror Waytha's thoughts.
I feel sad that you are portraying him to be a renegade to his cause and you are pressing this point at a time when he is going through this Hunger Viratham and physically and mentally is under great stress. So much for having been your friend...
Regardless, here are the responses.
If you are what you portray yourself to be, send my entire response to print - the questions and the answers. Otherwise forever keep your silence.
(Mariam's questions are in italics)
1. Some people claim that in approaching both parties, you (and/or Hindraf) are acting like prostitutes. What have to say about this?
You talk about two parties as if one was all good and the other evil. The truth is they are really not that much different - not their economic policies, not their social policies.
One just has not had the opportunity yet, to be that corrupt, though we can already see the outlines of corruption even in the fledgling Pakatan administrations across the country.
As for social policy, talk to Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and he will tell you how sacred Article 153 is to him, just the same as Umno.
To the poor it makes little difference who is in power as long as there is no impact to their daily lives.
There is nothing sacred for them, one or the other. We represent them. We are only interested in real changes in their lives. Their lives have gotten rotten because of Umno's policies of the past.
If there are changes in Umno's policies tomorrow and it improves their lives then that is what they must go for.
That does not mean we change our push for a just and equal Malaysia. After having dealt directly with Pakatan and all their bungling, we are beginning to question if they are the change that Malaysia truly needs.
That does not mean our basic policies have changed. It is just that they are really not that different - in spite of their high sounding rhetoric.
Much as we want to work with Pakatan, they are the ones who seem to have a problem with us. We have made so many overtures and you are not privy to any of that information.
All we see on their part is bungling. We seem to be in their way to Putrajaya, so they try to kill us off in so many ways. And it is a pity that journalists like you whom we used to consider decent, too can get caught up with all that.
2. BN's track record with Indians in not exemplary.
Nor is Pakatan's. Just giving a few additional positions in the state hierarchy does not make one better, when you still demolish Indian settlements, Indian burial grounds and Hindu temples.
For 56 years, BN failed the Indians and continually broke their promises to them.
Pakatan has done no better for the 5 years that they have been in office in Penang -Kg Buah Pala, in Kedah,- Batu Pekak Burial Ground, in Selangor, all those places of worship?
Despite this, you blame PR, for failing Hindraf.
Pakatan has not failed Hindraf; they just want to kill off this troublesome new kid on the block. Can you blame us for blaming Pakatan for wanting to kill us off?
i. Do you like the Umno/BN style of governance? What is your view of Umno's corruption?
After having known Waythamoorthy for so long, I am surprised you even ask a question like that. I wonder what you truly have in your mind - when you pose questions like that. This is a no brainer question and I will just say this - go look at all his work in the past.
ii. Can you claim to be principled when you are having talks with BN?
What is unprincipled about talking to your enemy? How else do problems get resolved if not through contact of this sort? We want to solve problems.
There is nothing underhand here. There is only a genuine attempt to solve problems. It does not mean Pakatan has all the solutions and Umno none.
If you are in the know you will know that they are bungling very badly in their relationships with all the minorities in the country, East and West Malaysia.
Hubris seems to have got them. In 2008 that same factor wiped out BN/Umno. In these elections if they do not watch it, much the same will hit them.
Let me ask you Mariam, are you being principled yourself in asking these kinds of convoluted questions after, as I understand, of having spent so many hours in discourse with him?
3. The ban on Hindraf was lifted, you obtained your passport and was given safe passage into Malaysia. Some people allege that you or others in Hindraf had done a "deal" with Umno, perhaps, even with Mahathir, the former PM.
i. What have you to say about this allegation?
Did Anwar do a deal with Najib for him to get off the hook on Sodomy 2? Allegations are easy. You have to decide what you want to believe.
Najib is trying to placate the Indians for the votes he seeks from them. All what you list above derives from that.
Waytha was just using the cracks in the situation and making the calls for advantage. You can relegate all that to his smartness in reading the opportunities.
4. Are you (or Hindraf) trying to fill the vacuum left by the MIC?
MIC never stood up for the Indian poor -never. They just served Umno and themselves. We represent a segment of Malaysian society, never before represented. This question is based on too simplistic a view. I am surprised at your shallowness of understanding in this matter.
5. When Hindraf highlighted the pertinent issues which affect marginalized Indian communities, Malaysians were full of praise for you; however, what started out as a human rights party has morphed into a race-based political party.
No Mariam, you got it all wrong. They were full of praise as long as we remained the fall guys. But when we started to stand up and ask for our fair share of the national resources, then we are accused of morphing into a race based party.
We have not changed policy wise, one bit. We are what we have always been in policy terms.
What may have changed is that we may now be more discussion orientated and less confrontation orientated. We have to find our future on our own without relying on others when dealing with devils.
See how messy things can get when the slaves start asking for their place in the sun.
We are still very much a human rights organisation. We fight for the rights of those who have been denied their rights and just because they all happen to be Indians, that does not make us racists.
Wasn't the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King also racist by that definition? What do you have to say about that?
i. How is Malaysia to move forwards and reject racial politics if you continue to play the race-card?
You are absolutely right. Is DAP not a Chinese party. Is PAS a not a Malay Muslim party. Is PKR not a largely Malay party?
When they can give up their individual identities and merge into one big party on a common platform, then and only then can we truly move forward on a non racial basis.
But they will not, because everyone, knows it is still very much a race based game. It is not Hindraf that is holding the party back, please. We just represent the Indian poor and you call that playing the race card.
Yet you have all these huge players playing the huge race cards right in front of your eyes and you do not want to see that. It is only when the thambi stands and asks for his share of things that he is dabbling in dirty racial politics.
This is typical Ketuanan Melayu approach. So how have you morphed, Mariam?
ii. How are your policies better than Pakatan's?
We are not competing with Pakatan on whose policies are better. All we are saying is solve the problems we raise.
Their policies will not solve the core problems that we raise in a comprehensive and permanent manner any time soon. There is no line of sight between their Buku Jingga policies platform and the problems we raise. That's all.
6. There are stateless Indians, just as there are stateless Orang Asli, Penans etc.
There are poor Jews too, you forgot to say that.
i. How is Malaysia to fight racism with more racism?
What is your definition of racism? When victims of racism start speaking up, do they become racists themselves. Were the blacks of the USA racists during the civil rights movement days?
Mariam, I am surprised with your understanding on this very fundamental question.
When we have so called progressives with such shallow understanding of things, who will really speak up for the victims of racism, but themselves.
You call that fighting racism with racism. Pakatan's veiled structures and strategies are in truth racist.
That is fighting racism with a new brand of racism, with heralds like you for them.
ii. Hindraf will look after the Indians, so what will Hindraf do for the poor people from the Malay, Chinese and other communities?
What do they want from us? If they come up to us we will do for them everything we do for the Indian poor.
We are a few committed people who are struggling to do something for the poor Indians and you want to kill even that bit off. Then you ask us why we are not doing more - real convoluted logic I must say.
7. Many people have been played out by Umno and Najib. These two do not keep their promises. What makes you think that they will honor their promises and keep their "janji-di tepati" to you?
You are right about this. That is why we are asking for any endorsement from both Pakatan and BN in a binding manner.
But then Anwar himself has serious reservations about signing an agreement on the Blueprint, I am sure you are fully aware about this.
Why does he say he agrees in principle and then says he does not want to sign the agreement in a binding way?
This brings me back to my earlier point - there is not much difference.
8. GE-13 is fast approaching. Do you seriously think you are going to win the 17 seat allocations you demanded from PR?
We cannot win in any seat on our platform without support from other parties. We harbor no illusions; this is the current fate of minorities in the country. When we try to rise, you and your ilk shout us down saying we are bloody racists.
i. If you do not get either PR or BN to align with you, what is your advice to your followers?
We have several options and we will decide that in a while.
ii. Will you tell them to abstain from voting? Is this wise?
Strategic abstention has been known to have impact too. If it has impact and used judiciously, it can be a wise move. We will be deciding on all of this very soon.
9. Hindraf demanded 10 parliamentary seats and 8 state seats from Pakatan.
Your numbers are wrong.
i. Have you made similar demands from BN?
We have just started the process of discussion. We have not made any such demands.
10. You are now in your 18th day of the hunger strike.
i. Do you think BN cares about the consequences of your hunger strike?
Let them answer that to the people to whom the hunger strike is an important symbol. Please see the attached photo of the people that gathered when Waytha ended his hunger strike.
ii. Do you think you will make a significant impact on the Malaysian people with your hunger strike?
With the Indian poor -yes.
iii. What are your real reasons for going on this strike?
To expose the fact that both sides are only interested in the votes but not the problems of the Indian poor. We want to sharpen this view to our supporters too so that they will not be carried away by the rhetoric.
iv. What do you seek to accomplish with this hunger strike? What will make you start eating again?
When we have made clear the positions of both Pakatan and BN on how much they care for the problems of the Indian poor, I will start eating again.
Mariam, on what authority you ask Waytha these questions I do not know.
Now, let me see if you are indeed a professional journalist.
Here are 10 questions that we would like you to pose to Anwar Ibrahim to clarify your credentials, that you are not a new morphed form of Ketuanan Melayu journalist and then go public with any response or lack of it from him. Here they are:
To Anwar Ibrahim:
1) People accuse you of being an Umno person at heart, still harboring visions of Ketuanan Melayu. They say you can get Anwar out of Umno but not Umno out of Anwar, what do you have to say?
i) You were involved at the senior leadership level of the Umno government for 12 years out of 50 of pure BN rule 1957-2008; do you take any ownership for what you are battling today?
ii) Have you considered apologising to the Malaysian people for your contribution for the ills of Malaysian society of today?
2) In the 1997 Kampung Rawa incident in Penang, did you threaten that you will stop all bells from ringing in Hindu temples?
3) When you were the agriculture minister, then education minister and the finance minister were your policies race based or needs based and has it changed since then and why has it changed?
4) People accuse you of being a chameleon. Is that a suitable image for you now that you are near the top and what will you do to change that image?
5) You have very powerful friends from among the neo conservative coterie in the US. Their policies tend not to be in the interests of local people. In your new avatar as a people coalition leader, how do you expect to reconcile your relationships with the needs of the people of Malaysia?
6) You say that Pakatan policies are needs based and not race based and that they transcend racial boundaries, have you considered dissolving the race based approach to political formation - PAS for Malay Muslims, DAP for Chinese , PKR largely for Malays and reform into a non race based party. If not why not?
7) Article 153 is the basis for the racism that has come to characterise contemporary Malaysia.
Every one accuses Umno of being at the forefront of protecting the two tier citizenship arrangements that has resulted in the regime running on racist institutions, the loss of transparency of the operations of government and the corruption that has become so rampant. What will you do to change this?
8) The syariah courts have been slowly encroaching on the guaranteed rights of non-Muslims, what will you do ensure the syariah courts will stay within their constitutionally defined jurisdiction.
9) It is viewed that the Pakatan coalition is a coalition of Malays, Muslims and the Chinese. Where is the representation for the other minorities in the country?
If there is no effective representation than how will their specific interests be safeguarded if you were to form the government.
10) Why are you so adverse to signing Hindraf's Five Year Blueprint, after all you have said you do agree in principle. Is this so that you have space afterwards for wiggling out of the pre election promise?
Why do you continue to call Hindraf a racist organisation? In what ways is Hindraf more racist that DAP, PAS or PKR, please clarify?
Mariam, we hope you will ask these questions to Anwar Ibrahim with the same objective passion as you have done of Waythamoorthy.
If you do not pose these questions we will just have to take it that you are just a morphed form of Ketuanan Melayu journalist.
Life teaches us every day.