[UPDATED 22/12/18] Uh-oh, after the Seafield temple riot, many are calling for Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing, Waytha Moorthy’s resignation. That includes Sports Minister, YB Syed Saddiq who mentioned that he is ready to face any action should his call for Moorthy’s resignation is deemed wrong. And just yesterday, more than 500 people from various NGOs gathered in Putrajaya to demand for Moorthy’s resignation. There were also some who defended him such as the DAP Youths. Aiyo, but if you dunno who Waytha Moorthy is, then you may want to continue reading. [END UPDATE]
Quick, pop quiz! How many political parties are there in Malaysia? If you answered 2+1 for Harapan, BN and PAS then, uh, you really couldn’t be further from the answer.
In 2016, there were 62 operating political parties in Malaysia, with another 21 applications at the time. Of course, we don’t expect you to know some of the lesser ones such as the People’s Alternative Party, Liberal Democratic Party or even the People’s Progressive Party that claims to have 600k members. However, by the looks of things, you might have to take note of another new party in town.
Okay so you probably thinking, “apatu MAP?” after reading that headline. We’ll get into the full details later on, but basically, the Malaysian Advancement Party (MAP) is the latest party in town, and it’s main interest is to protect the interests of the Indian community. And the guy who’s forming the MAP, Waytha Moorthy, is actually a part of our govt – he’s been appointed a Senator in the Dewan Negara and is the Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing.
Hold on a minute… a current Minister just launched a new political party for Indians? What?
Waytha Moorthy is the first NGO leader to be made a Minister
Yep, you read that right: Waytha Moorthy is actually a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department despite not officially having a party.
However, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a strong political background tho – far from it in fact. While some of y’all younger millennials may only know of Waytha Moorthy for bringing in a Hindu scholar to his parliamentary swearing-in who was later mocked online for his appearance, Waytha Moorthy is perhaps best known as the leader of the NGO movement HINDRAF.
The Hindu Rights Action Force began as a coalition of 50 Hindu NGOs protesting the demolition of temples, and over the years became a significant grassroots movement among the local Indian community. It was in HINDRAF that Waytha Moorthy began his political career, as he was a devotee of the Sri Siva Balamuniswarar temple, one of those demolished.
Part of his fight included an extraordinary lawsuit against the UK govt for over USD4 TRILLION for human rights abuses during the colonial era, for failing to protect Indians in independent Malaya, and mainly to highlight the struggles Malaysian Indians were facing.
He’s been arrested for his part in the HINDRAF protests and charged with sedition, and later spent a number of years travelling the world to gain support for the HINDRAF movement. Waytha eventually returned, and still unimpressed with the lack of action taken to help the local Indian community, went on a hunger strike in a temple. It went on for 21 days before he collapsed, but at this point it’s safe to say it’s hard to question Waytha’s devotion to the cause. #respect
Things did take a weird turn just before GE13 tho, as Waytha Moorthy and HINDRAF decided to work with the then-govt, with the understanding being that BN and HINDRAF had a five-year plan to help poor Indians out of poverty. BN won that election, and Waytha Moorthy was then made a Senator and a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. He later quit the govt tho, protesting the lack of action from the then-govt despite the five-year plan made before the elections.
Realising that working with the then-govt didn’t work out like how he had hoped, Waytha Moorthy and HINDRAF ended up working with Harapan late last year. Eyeing a win-win for both sides, Mahathir realised he could use the help of HINDRAF in getting votes from the Indian community, while Waytha Moorthy wanted to increase Indian representation in govt. As such, HINDRAF was roped in as a strategic partner of Harapan for GE14.
We believe you probably know what happened in GE14 by now, and Waytha Moorthy was later made a Senator again as well as a fully-fledged Minister this time round. It’s a pretty remarkable rise, in all fairness, to be the first Minister as an NGO leader instead of a political party. But Waytha Moorthy isn’t done yet, as he lines up the Malaysian Advancement Party.
The MAP looks set to be Pakatan Harapan’s latest component party
Now that you’ve probably got a better idea of Waytha Moorthy’s hopes and dreams, it’s perhaps a bit easier to understand his rationale behind his attempt to form the Malaysian Advancement Party. In fact, HINDRAF had already made their intentions very clear early last year that they intend to fully convert themselves from an NGO to a political party.
While they had not become a full political party yet by the time GE14 came about, they did try to get some of their members to stand in the election, but was in the end denied by the coalition. Despite that, HINDRAF did continue to try and get as many Malaysian Indians to vote for Harapan.
Now that they have a member of their own in the govt, it appears they’ll finally get their wish of becoming a political party in the form of the MAP. Of course, you can’t just go around forming a political party for no real reason like, we can’t just form the Malaysian Cilisos Party with the goal of making our editor-in-chief PM right….
oR CAN WE?
In the same way, the MAP will have a solid goal and vision that they’ll intend to work towards:
“The main objectives of the party, among others, will be to protect, promote and advance the interest of the Indian community’s political, economic, educational, cultural, religious and social interests. It will work towards continued empowerment and enhancement of the Indian community, coherent with the Federal Constitution, in raising their socio-economic standing and promoting unity and cohesion in the nation,” – Waytha Moorthy, as quoted by The Star
One major reason for the formation of the MAP according to Waytha Moorthy is that while there a few multiracial component parties in Harapan, many Indians wanted a party specifically to represent them. He added that the MAP will push for adopting a fundamental rights-based approach for advancement. Furthermore, the MAP will look at moving away from the ‘state assisted, welfare and hand-out-based community towards community empowerment and resilience’.
The committee chairman for now will be Waytha Moorthy, and he added that once the Registrar of Societies (RoS) formally approves the application, the MAP will then apply to Pakatan Harapan to join the coalition as a component party.
“We will work and participate with all political parties in Pakatan Harapan to enhance the reform agenda under this Malaysia Baru,” – Waytha Moorthy, as quoted by The Star
Not everyone is a fan of another race-based party tho
In light of a new possibly major political party coming into the scene and joining Harapan, you might be forgiven for thinking that it would be the opposition who would have a problem with that. However, it appears as tho some within Harapan have concerns about the MAP.
Pakatan Harapan Chief Secretary and Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah from PKR didn’t seem too pleased with Waytha Moorthy’s new party to say the least. He made a string of tweets voicing his concern over ‘politics of race’, culminating with this tweet:
Our biggest political problem is 'politics of race'.The way forward is a new political configuration – centripetalism – that is multiracial &moderate. Work on such parties;more mixed election constituencies that represent d real Msia; fullfil d peoples' wish expressed in GE14.
— Saifuddin Abdullah 🇲🇾 (@saifuddinabd) September 11, 2018
Likewise, the ADUN for Kampung Tunku Lim Yi Wei of the DAP was a bit perplexed with the formation of the MAP too, pointing out the irony of the Minister for National Unity forming a race-based party.
Berita ini agak ironi memandangkan portfolio YB Waytha Moorthy ialah perpaduan nasional dan kesejahteraan sosial. https://t.co/RCZ5mMN4nc
— Lim Yi Wei 林怡威 🇲🇾 (@LimYiWei4MY) September 11, 2018
Nevertheless, there are some Indians who seem somewhat okay with the MAP, for now anyway. Aaron Denison, of the Asia-Europe Institute in Universiti Malaya, pointed out that even Harapan has the PPBM which was set up to defend Bumiputera rights, while the DAP has a predominantly Chinese base. With MIC the only major predominantly Indian political party out there, he sees the MAP as a welcome alternative for the Indian community here.
In any case, it’s too early to tell how well the MAP will be received. But if you – yes, you the voter – can make the change you did just a few months back, if the MAP or indeed any party becomes too much too handle, you can always make sure they hear your concerns at the polls by exercising your right to vote. Power to the, uh, people right?