Firstly, I would like to congratulate Hindraf's chairperson P Waythamoorthy who has been appointed as deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Let me get straight to business. We have been working with the plantation workers for decades and Hindraf has put the issue of plantation workers as one of their priorities in its blueprint which has been endorsed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and BN.
I expect Waytha to immediately solve the following four issues in his capacity as the newly-crowned representative to solve the problem of the Indian poor.
1) Please make sure the Bukit Jalil estate workers get their four acres from the remaining 16 acres still around in Bukit Jalil. This should be relatively very easy as the land is currently owned by the government.
2) Please enact a law to protect plantation workers facing eviction so that they will get landed property houses once the estate goes for evictions. Najib's dad Abdul Razak started the plantation house ownership scheme in 1973 but it was hardly implemented by plantations simply because it is not a law.
3) Please convert all plantation schools to fully government-aided schools. Uthayakumar said this can be done by a stroke of pen. So now the onus is with Waytha to accomplish this very simple task.
4) Please implement monthly decent wages for plantation workers rather than the current daily rated and inconsistent wages today which depends on many non-productive methods such as price of commodity in world market, weather and other factors.
Again Sime Darby is the largest plantation in the county and it is owned by the government. So Waytha should not have problems in solving these issues.
These are not all the issues of the plantation workers but they are a good place to start.
S ARUTCHELVAN is Parti Socialis Malaysia secretary-general and founder member of the Plantation Workers Support Group.