PUTRAJAYA: An unprecedented meeting between Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Hindraf took place today, increasing the possibility of the opposition coalition signing up yet another member.
The meeting between Mahathir and Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy at his office in Perdana Leadership Foundation here, saw the duo discussing the prospect of the latter becoming the fifth component of PH or at least a partner to it.
Dressed in his trademark all-grey bush jacket, with Waythamoorthy sitting in front of him, Mahathir spoke to FMT about how the Indian-based NGO had an important place in the opposition machinery.
“We notice the Indian community is not well represented in PH. There is no Indian party. There are multiracial parties where Indians are members, but the representation is not adequate.
“I think we appreciate the fact that Hindraf has got the support of the ordinary Indians, not the lawyers or the doctors, but the ordinary estate people.
“So we are working to get Hindraf, if not as a member of PH, at least as part of the opposition.”
PH is made up of four parties which are the Mahathir-led Malay only PPBM, the multiracial PKR and DAP, as well as PAS’ splinter Amanah.
Hindraf, which is not a registered political party, is led by Waythamoorthy who enjoyed a brief stint as a senator, and a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department under Najib Razak.
His strength among the Indians in the rural areas is not lost on Mahathir, who aims to also secure Indian support ahead of the upcoming general election. Pundits predict GE14 will be the most competitive battle the nation has ever seen.
With the Malay votes expected to be split between the opposition and BN’s ruling party, Umno, Mahathir sees the Indian community as possible kingmakers.
“Although they (the Indians) are the minority, their vote is very important. Because when the majority community is split into two, the minority determines who wins.
“And Hindraf is obviously a mass movement of people who are not so prominent in the community. They are not urban, they are mainly rural and estate-based.
“Hence, they can play a big role in determining who wins in the rural areas,” he said.
When asked how he planned to iron out the differences that might arise between PH members and Hindraf, Mahathir said the question was one he could only answer “after I have consulted the other leaders of PH”.
Also present at today’s meeting were former ministers Sanusi Junid and Zaid Ibrahim.
Zaid , who is now with the DAP, had pushed for an alliance between PH and Hindraf earlier this month.
He had, in a blog post, said Waythamoorthy “cannot be that bad” as he let go of his deputy minister’s position when he saw nothing worthwhile coming from the many Indian blueprints that the prime minister “waved around”.
“He is articulate and passionate in his belief that we must address the many problems of our country’s marginalised community.
“He may have made some unreasonable demands in the past, but then, how do you get noticed in this country if you don’t try to shake people out of their comfort zone?” Zaid had said.