BERITA DAILY LETTER: From Charles Santiago, via e-mail

Truth hurts. And Hindraf secretary Muniandy Ponnusamy felt the sting.

I have valid reasons for my observations about Hindraf. Let me explain. P Waythamoorthy’s self-styled exile to the UK and his fast for Malaysian Indians made him a hero in the eyes of Malaysian Indians.

And preceding that was the historic 2007 Hindraf rally that catapulted the status of Malaysian Indians and changed the national conversation about them. In short the Indians became a force to be reckoned with, overnight.

But all that changed when Waythamoorthy signed a joint memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Najib Razak and was made a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

As I recall most Indians were opposed to him joining the cabinet. This move, in fact, earned Waythamoorthy the nickname “Ettappan”.

For those who are not familiar with this story, Ettappan is the person who betrays Veerapandiya Kattabomman, a village chieftain, who waged war against British East India Company.

Ettappan’s betrayal led to Kattabomman being captured and hung by the British. This is very much like Judas who told on Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

And although Waythamoorthy left his position eventually, it had already broken the trust between him and the Indians.

I have always spoken against race-based politics. And Hindraf’s position that only an Indian dominated party or organisation can look out for the welfare of other Indians in the country doesn’t sit well with me.

While I do agree that the Indian representation is lacking in the federal Opposition, the responsibility of addressing the aspirations of the Indians remains with all parties.

In fact, it’s the onus of every political party in the country to address the needs of the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised.

I read Muniandy’s article with amusement. It reminded me of the very famous crab story about crabs pulling each other down – a powerful metaphor for what is often touted as a very typical Indian trait of not letting the other Indian forge ahead.

It’s essential that instead of reacting, Muniandy spends some time really looking into Hindraf’s relevance to the Indians and also Malaysia’s political scene.

And by the way, taking pot shots at me won’t help Hindraf recapture the imagination of the Indians.

Charles Santiago is the MP for Klang