This is a general election unlike any other, I am sure everybody should know that. Unlike in the past, there is a very good chance for a change in government after five years. It’s an awfully long time for any party to hold on to power, no matter how one looks at it.
Which is why the question of Independent candidates and Hindraf is more pertinent than ever. It makes me laugh to read about some saying how the huge number of Independents is a good or healthy sign of democracy.
Perhaps yes, in another time, another place. A place where clean and fair elections rule and where public institutions adhere to the principles of good governance, free from political interference.
But at a time when the country is teetering on the edge of ruin at the hands of a despotic government, I hardly call it a healthy sign of democracy.
It begs the question what an Independent hopes to do as a solo voice in a Parliament dominated by the ruling party. In the past, we have seen that even with over one-third majority in parliament, Pakatan MPs can do nothing as bill after bill is rammed home by BN and rubber stamped by the Senate, regardless of their merits. Having one more voice in there as the opposition will not make any difference.
An Independent as the voice of his community/constituency? That’s at best naïve. Without a party’s backing, and without the generous allocations that only BN reps get, what can an Independent do for his constituents under the present system? I would say, hardly anything significant. Change policy? Dream on. Raise issues? Yes, but to what end? The BN government will still do what they like.
At the risk of sounding cynical, an Independent’s most valuable asset -at least in this GE - is to lend numbers to whichever party can court him or her best, as can be seen by the turncoat Independents. Their only use was to add to BN’s numbers, in Perak’s case, to steal the state.
Which brings me to HRP’s Kota Raja candidate P Uthayakumar. I feel sad for him. He started admirably in raising the issues of the Indian community, and got them to vote out large numbers of BN reps.
But what have we now? BN is again the clever manipulator, and as Uthaya says himself, has skilfully destroyed the movement with all its tricks.
Yet the man refuses to lend his voice to the overwhelming rakyat’s sentiment to push for a change in government. His goal now, to make himself an MP to be the voice of the Indians, is romantic, but naïve.
As said, in a fair system, I would consider voting for him. Even if Pakatan rules, Independent MPs would help provide checks and balances.
But with the present scenario, it would only squander away one more seat to keep BN in power. Is that worth it? I think the obvious answer is that it not. Sure, as they reason, we can wait another five years. But remember in that time, how many hundreds of billions more we would have lost from our coffers.
By running as an Independent and shying away from the opposition, Uthaya has shown his movement is not a team player. His position is only slightly more elegant in expressing this, than his brother, who now blatantly announced that he doesn’t care who rules, as long as Hindraf gets what it wants. I would give Waytha points for honesty for the first time in his career.
Uthaya, however, is another story. I am not sure if he is sincere (and therefore foolish) or if something is behind the mask. After all, the tale of Hindraf has been one big rollercoaster of political twists and turns.
The justification for staying away from Bersih, from Himpunan Hijau, all people's movements, just does not convince me that Uthaya is interested in human rights or in helping the rakyat. At least not any more.
His reasons always centre around the central theme "what’s in it for the Indians"? I wonder if it is not, ''what’s in it for me''? Hello, do you see Bukit Koman residents demanding for a seat to support Pakatan? Do you think the immediate health risk they face is not any more urgent than the Indian problem and needs immediate solutions?
Contrast that with PSM’s clear stand that regardless, they stand with the opposition, even if they want to fight for their own political survival. I can buy that, and I can respect PSM and trust them. I would vote for PSM, even with their own clenched fist logo.
Learn from them, Uthaya, if you are sincere about the Indians and human rights. Otherwise, don’t blame some of us for doubting your motives. If you win, who knows, you’ll be another BN friendly MP just for some promises or sweets. Or you will auction your loyalty to the highest bidder.
If you lose, you can take part of the credit for having helped split the votes to allow BN to beat Pakatan, and if that costs the people a change in government, well, you can reason all you want, but don’t expect the people in general to buy it.
My personal stand is I want change for the Indians as much as for the other communities, and I even agree their issues should be addressed immediately. But that can only be achieved by kicking out BN.
Meanwhile, you say you want change but only for the Indians first. So why would I vote for you, Uthaya?