Ministers Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Khairy Jamaluddin should stop defending Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for signing an MoU with Hindraf prior to GE13 which he had no intention of fulfilling

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang on the 24 February 2014 in Kuala Lumpur

In the past week, two Ministers – Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Minister of Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government and Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth and Sports – have taken to twitter to attack former Deputy Minister, P Waythamoorthy, for resigning his position and for asking Prime Minister Najib to resign for failing to fulfil his promises made in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the BN and Hindraf prior to the 13th general election. Both Ministers are disingenuous in their defence of the Prime Minister in that they make no mention of the contents of the Hindraf MoU and to what extent the Prime Minister has failed or succeeded in implementing the promises outlined in this MoU.

While I do not have access to the specific Hindraf MoU signed by the PM, I do have access to a copy of a Hindraf Blueprint (see Appendix I below) that was presented to Pakatan Rakyat before the 13th general elections where certain specific demands were outlined. I am sure these demands were included in the MoU signed with the Prime Minister.

Under the “Realization Plan” section of the Hindraf Blueprint, an Empowered Ministry called the Minority Affairs Ministry was proposed with Hindraf ‘providing the leadership for this Ministry’. The role of this Ministry was also clearly spelt out in the Hindraf blueprint where it says that the Ministry:

1. Shall lead the socio-economic development efforts of the marginalized and minority communities

2. Shall plan its budgetary requirements and obtain the necessary allocations

3. Shall plan and execute all the development effort

4. Shall coordinate all the relevant other ministries for implementation of quota/target allocations relating to the M&M communities

5. Shall sit on arbitration committee for resolving conflicts on allocations, authority, provided support and such other implementation problems.

Prime Minister Najib already signalled his intention not to honour this MoU when he appointed Waythamoorthy to the position of Deputy Minister without his own Ministry rather than creating a new Ministry of Minority Affairs and making Waythamoorthy the Minister as was envisioned in the Hindraf Blueprint.

The Hindraf Blueprint also called for an annual budget of RM4.9 billion to be allocated to the Ministry of Minority Affairs including RM2 billion for land allocated to contract farming, RM1 billion for housing, RM20 million for skills retraining programs, RM400 million for land for temples and burial grounds, all for displaced estate workers. It also called for 10% of all government employment, licenses and permits, government contracts and participation in entrepreneurship programs to be given to the Indian community. Without a Ministry of Minority Affairs and without a Hindraf Minister, needless to say, the promise of a dedicated budget also failed to materialize.

Given the demands of the Hindraf Blueprint, and I suspect, the content of the MoU, it is wrong for Khairy Jamaluddin to criticize Waythamoorthy for wanting control of his own budget especially if this was explicitly spelt out in the MoU! If Khairy, having been in cabinet for less than a year, can say that ‘this is not how the government operates’, then Prime Minister Najib, having been in cabinet for much longer, should never have signed the MoU with Hindraf if he had no intention of giving Hindraf’s appointed leader any budgetary control!

It is clear that Prime Minister Najib had no intention of honouring the MoU with Hindraf and that he only signed it out of desperation in wanting to win the Indian votes during the 13th General Election. This is consistent with the many U-turns he has made as Prime Minister after replacing Abdullah Badawi in 2009 and his failure to honour his GE13 election pledges such as the promise to reduce intra-city toll rates and to reduce the price of cars. It is only a matter of time before Prime Minister Najib breaks more election promises.

The alternative to Hindraf’s community specific programs is Pakatan Rakyat’s needs based affirmative action philosophy and programs, some of which have been spelt out in PR’s manifesto for GE13 and in the various PR alternative budgets. Each community has its own share of marginalized and disadvantaged groups. While some of these groups may have specific underlying challenges and specific policy prescription to overcome these challenges, a more holistic approach is needed to address issues such as poverty and inequality across the board, for all the affected groups. This is why I am supporting the tabling of the Social Inclusion Act 2014 as a private members bill in the upcoming parliamentary sitting in March.[1]

Appendix I: Taken from the Hindraf Blueprint presented to Pakatan Rakyat