Waythamoorthy big winner with government appointment

Waythamoorthy big winner with government appointment

By Ida Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 – MIC is now facing competition from Hindraf as the voice of the Indian community in the Cabinet, following the unexpected appointment of the Indian rights NGO’s chairman to the new Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced that Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf)’s P. Waythamoorthy (picture) would be a deputy minister in the prime minister’s department.

Waythamoorthy’s appointment appears to be reward for his role in returning support for BN from Indians.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Indian vote in Election 2013 was evenly split between BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties.

MIC took four positions in the government, with party president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel taking over as minister of natural resources and environment, having previously served as a minister in the prime minister’s department.

Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, the deputy president of the BN component party, will be switching his portfolio as the human resources minister to become the new health minister, a post traditionally held by coalition partner MCA.

MIC vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan will become the deputy minister of youth and sport, leaving his previous post as the deputy minister of the federal territories and urban well-being.

P. Kamalanathan, the party’s Putera coordinator, will be taking up the post of Deputy Minister II in the ministry of education and higher learning, after the two ministries were merged for the 13th Cabinet.

In the recently-concluded Election 2013, MIC won four out of nine federal seats contested, which is one more than its three-seat victory in 2008 and the same number it had before polls. But the Indian-based party only took five of the 18 state seats contested, lesser than its 2008 win in seven seats.

Less than three weeks before the polls, Waythamoorthy signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BN government that was also headed by Najib then, purportedly to improve the Indian community’s economic position after negotiations with the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) failed.

Just days after the signing of the document, his brother and Hindraf co-founder P. Uthayakumar said that Waythamoorthy was sacked as the movement’s chairman.

In 2007, Hindraf’s massive protest against the BN government under then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was crucial to the community’s rejection of BN in the 2008 general election, which led to the group being banned.

However, earlier this year in a strategically-timed move, the Najib administration agreed to lift the ban on the group in anticipation of the 13th general election.

The Indian community make up just about 950,000 of the country’s 13.3 million registered voters and is a significant minority in 60 of the 222 federal seats.

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