THE Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is arguably one of the most influential forces in Malaysia today. The non-governmental-organisation coalition brought the issue of Hindu temple demolition national attention, intensified outcry against laws of detention without trial, and was one of the deciding factors in the 12th general election. Its most famous slogan, Makkal Sakthi, is now a rallying cry that transcends race. It has attempted to deliver roses and Aidilfitri greeting cards, organised brutally-suppressed rallies, and since 15 Oct 2008, been declared illegal.
Prayers commemorating the 1st anniversary of the 25 Nov 2007 Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur took place in Hindu temples in Selangor and Penang. Despite a heavy downpour, there was a crowd at Batu Caves’ Sri Maha Mariamman Temple that swelled to about 500 people through the course of the night. Hindraf supporters ascended the 272 steps to the complex’s Temple Cave, petitioning Lord Murugan to accept the movement’s 18 demands.
Addressing the gathering later, member of parliament (MP) for Kapar S Manikavasagam declared “Hindraf is alive!” to general jubilation.
Other elected representatives present during the evening’s proceedings were Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran, and Klang MP Charles Santiago. “25 Nov is a good lesson for the Malaysian government,” said Port Dickson assemblyperson M Ravi, when queried. There was hardly any police presence in the area.
“Now the whole world knows about the Indian Malaysians’ problems,” Ravi said, affirming the importance of the anniversary to his community. “Whoever forgets this date, he is not Indian.”