Charles Santiago defends remarks on Waythamoorthy
Klang MP says however that he meant no disrespect to the Hindraf leader.
KUALA LUMPUR: Klang MP Charles Santiago says he stands by the remarks he made about Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy in a recent article, but stresses that he meant no disrespect to the leader by what he wrote.
Santiago was referring to his remark that Waythamoorthy had not endeared himself to the Indian community when he signed a memorandum of understanding with Barisan Nasional (BN), a move that led to him being appointed a deputy minister in the prime minister’s department in 2013.
In his response to Waythamoorthy’s Facebook posting that he apologise for writing the article or face a lawsuit, Santigao said he did not mean any disrespect to Hindraf and had, in his article, acknowledged that they were a force to be reckoned with in 2007.
“But it is also fair to say all that changed in 2013 and I was echoing the sentiments of many Indians who publicly said they felt betrayed by Waythamoorthy for joining Prime Minister Najib Razak’s cabinet. Many were outraged and called him a traitor.
“Secondly, it must be noted that Waythamoorthy challenged me to prove my popularity by turning up in 20 plantations. For someone who claims to lend a voice to voiceless Indians, Waythamoorthy doesn’t seem to know that 89% of Indians are not in plantations anymore.
“For someone who accuses me of being an elite and portrays himself as the champion of poor Indians, Waythamoorthy seems naive as he does not even know his constituency,” Santiago said in a statement.
In his Facebook post, Waythamoorthy said he had instructed his lawyer to issue Santiago with a letter of demand, offering the MP the opportunity to publicly apologise for the “personal remarks and attacks” made against him.
He said that if Santiago refused to apologise, he would take him to court.
In Santiago’s article, the MP also said he did not agree with Hindraf’s alleged stance that only an Indian-dominated outfit could look after the interests of Indians in Malaysia.
“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,” he said.
“In fact, it’s the onus of every political party in the country to address the needs of the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised,” he added.