KUALA LUMPUR: While politicians from both sides of the divide debate the looming “tragic lot” of the estimated 6,000 Malaysian Airlines staff who will be axed under the proposed MAS Act, no one has spared a thought for the long-suffering 800,000 displaced estate workers and their families in the peninsula.
“An entire community has been left stranded, their suffering unimaginable and worst still this fact is not known to the people even after the displacement process,” said Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Chief P Waythamoorthy in a statement marking Merdeka Day.
“What about natural rights and social justice for the 800,000 estate workers displaced from the plantations?”
Waytha noted that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was very vocal about the MAS workers who will be laid off “because it’s a populist cause which the media will seize on”.
“He’s asking what wrong the MAS workers have done to deserve the fate that is in store for them,” pointed out Waytha.
“Why didn’t he express similar concerns in 1984 about the estate workers when he was Agriculture Minister?”
The Hindraf Chief warned that the estimated 20,000 MAS workers will be victims of the same cruel games played on estate workers.
The estates, continued Waytha, were sold to sister companies which had new contracts drawn up for the workers.
He explained that subsequently these sister companies sold the estates to yet another sister company engaged in property development.
“In this way, people who had toiled for the country for over 200 years found themselves in the streets overnight,” Waytha said.
“MIC, aided by illiterate mandores who were often the local MIC chiefs, played a key role in the eviction of the workers from the estates,” charged Waytha in warning MAS workers that a similar fate awaited them.
He added, ”The henchmen of the companies came in to assist in the eviction.”
The bottom-line, according to Waytha on Merdeka Day, was that he made no apologies for entering the ruling Barisan Nasional government after the General Election last May when the NGO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its arch enemies.
The MOU, explained Waytha, was the proverbial Bill of Rights for the 800,000 workers and their families displaced from the great plantations.