HRP may field spoiler in Hulu Selangor race

By Neville Spykerman (Malaysian Insider)
SHAH ALAM, March 26 — The Human Rights Party (HRP) is considering fielding a candidate for the upcoming by-election in Hulu Selangor.
Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader and HRP secretary general, P. Uthayakumar, said the fledgling Indian party — neither aligned to Barisan Nasional (BN) nor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) — was still mulling a swing at the parliamentary seat.
“We have been holding meetings and have yet to decide if we should field a candidate,” said Uthayakumar when contacted by The Malaysian Insider today.
He added the HRP will announce their decision on Sunday, after it is put to a vote by their central committee.
The Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat fell vacant yesterday with the death of Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad from PKR, who won the seat with a wafer thin majority of 198 votes against MIC’s Datuk G. Palanivel in the last general elections.
The seat is crucial to both the Umno-led ruling coalition, who lost their two-thirds majority in Parliament in Election 2008, and PR, which recently suffered the loss of four PKR MPs via defections and a sacking.
However, the emergence of HRP in the race is likely to complicate matters for both BN and PR.
Hindraf’s campaigns against the marginalisation of the Indian community in Malaysia helped trigger the political tsunami against BN two years ago.
But earlier this month, supporters of HRP led by Uthayakumar demonstrated against PR for allegedly failing to fulfil its election promises, including to alleviate poverty, and to provide land for Tamil schools and Hindu temples.
With Malay voters, who make up 53.9 per cent of the more than 60,000 voters in the constituency believed to be evenly split, at stake are the crucial Indian voters who make up 19 per cent of the electorate.
The Chinese make up 26.7 per cent of the pool while other races stand at 0.41 per cent.
PKR, however, does have a trump card up its sleeve.
Among the candidates being considered is human rights lawyer N. Surendran, who has championed the same causes as HRP, including the death in custody of A. Kugan, and who is on good terms Uthayakumar.
“We feel HRP may back-down if Surendran is fielded by PKR,” said a party insider who declined to be named.