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Thursday, July 16, 2009

> Another man lays claim to Hindraf

by Baradan Kuppusamy

K. Vasantha Kumar, 36, is the odd man out among the six leaders of Hindraf.

Not only is he not a lawyer unlike the others he is also the person in the deep shadows of Hindraf.

Even as an ISA detainee he was eclipsed by other leaders like P. Uthayakumar.

But now he is coming out in the open, laying claim to Hindraf and trying to make a career speaking out for the Indian community.

Unlike Uthayakumar who is keen on starting a political party, Vasantha Kumar is forming an Indian-based NGO, another organisation in a crowded field, to speak up for the community.

He has also lined up 12 new leaders who will be identified at a function in Kajang on July 25.

“Hindraf is a non-political and independent NGO and should remain as one. Nobody can claim to manage or lead Hindraf,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Vasantha Kumar said in 2007 he and several others applied to the Registrar of Societies to registered Hindraf as a society but the registrar rejected the application.

“Then I and two others registered Hindraf Enterprise with the Registrar of Companies and it was accepted,” he said, justifying why others like Uthayakumar cannot claim to lead Hindraf.

“The two persons left the company, leaving me the sole proprietor of Hindraf Enterprise,” Vasantha Kumar said, adding that subsequently the Registrar of Companies de-registered Hindraf Enterprises.

“My lawyers are taking action to revive Hindraf Enterprise,” he said.

Vasantha Kumar denied the new organisation would further split the Indian community even though there are now nearly a dozen political parties and NGOs claiming to speak for its interest.

“Many of them claim to speak up for the Indian community but they all have their own agendas,” he said.

A graduate in management and marketing from Universiti Utara Malaysia, Vasantha Kumar worked with Citibank, RHB Bank and MBSB as a mortgage recovery officer before his involvement with Hindraf.

He claimed that Pakatan Rakyat had failed the people by not fulfilling the many promises it made during the election and cited the Kampung Buah Pala issue in Penang as an example.

He also said that Barisan Nasional was no better.

“Barisan is more aware of Indian issues now and is offering help but what they are giving is inadequate. They should have given these assistance 20 or 30 years ago,” he said, adding his organisation, whose name he declined to reveal as yet, would raise Indian issues to persuade the government of the day to address them.

He said the government should have a separate allocation each year to help the Indian community in the yearly budget.

“We are neither with Pakatan nor Barisan but will pressure both for help,” he said while pledging his group would eschew street demonstrations.

“We will organise pressure and demand in a peaceful manner,” he said.

With his announcement, there are now three organisations which have emerged out of the banned Hindraf movement — Uthayakumar’s Parti Hak Asasi Manusia or PAHAM, Makkal Sakthi Malaysia Party led by former Hindraf national co-coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran and Vasantha Kumar’s proposed NGO - The Malaysian Insider.