By Mohd Farhan Darwis
KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The opposition-backed Indian Rights Action Force (Indraf 2.0) drew a crowd of over 1,000 this evening for its maiden rally here, organised amid widespread predictions that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would bleed Indian electoral support in the coming polls.
The star-studded event saw PR leaders dish out pledges to resolve the longstanding problem of “stateless Indians” in Malaysia as well as highlight the alleged “abuses” against the community by the ruling Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN).
“PR leaders attended the gathering, which highlighted the Indian community’s disgust against the Umno-aligned groups’ abusive behaviour outside (Bersih co-chairman Datuk) Ambiga Sreenevasan’s house, as well as the ongoing and yet unresolved stateless Indians in Malaysia,” PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar told The Malaysian Insider after the event this evening.
Nurul Izzah, the Lembah Pantai MP, along with other key PR leaders including its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, had attended the 3pm event held at the Girl Guide’s Hall in Brickfields.
“Pakatan reiterates its commitment to revamping the New Economic Policy (NEP) and producing a needs-based economic policy which will go a long way in addressing the needs of the impoverished Indian community,” she added.
Indraf 2.0 is a project initiated by the Malaysian Indian Voice led by DAP’s Penang deputy chief minister (II) Dr P. Ramasamy, the National Interlok Action Team president Datuk Thasleem Ibrahim and former ISA detainees V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan.
Earlier this month, PKR admitted it is likely to lose a whopping one-third of its Indian support in the coming polls due to the Najib administration’s policies and a revamped MIC leadership under the aggressive leadership of Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s successor.
Since assuming office, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been actively courting the Indian community — which had largely abandoned BN in the last election — as well as voters in east Malaysia and rural Malays, both of whom are seen as traditional vote banks for BN.
The Indian community’s swing to the opposition followed a government crackdown on the November 2007 Hindraf rally, where some 30,000 Indians marched for better opportunities.
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