KUALA LUMPUR: An ethnic Indian minister has resigned from Malaysia’s cabinet in an apparent blow to efforts by the Malay-dominated government to halt a slide in support from the country’s sizable minority groups.
Prime Minister Najib Razak had received the resignation of P. Waytha Moorthy, a spokesman for the premier confirmed on Tuesday.
A firebrand leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, Waytha Moorthy had angered many Indians by accepting the cabinet post last year, ostensibly to address their community’s social problems from within the regime.
“Waytha Moorthy tendered his letter to the prime minister yesterday,” said Najib’s spokesman, declining further comment.
While there are a small number of successful Indians in Malaysia, the majority are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Being a minority race with little political clout, they face discrimination in employment in the public sector, find it difficult to gain entry into public universities and to secure scholarships.
Hindraf said Waytha Moorthy was quitting over Najib’s failure to live up to promises to protect the rights of Malaysia’s roughly 2 million ethnic Indians.
“We have now given up any hope of that happening, [after]eight months of trying,” Hindraf secretary P. Ramesh had said in a statement at the weekend that also accused the government of a “historic act of betrayal.”
“We sincerely apologize to [Malaysian Indians] for the hopes we had raised. Hindraf now opens another chapter in our struggle after this.” In 2007, Hindraf staged a mass street protest alleging discrimination against ethnic Indians that drew 8,000 people.
It prompted a tough police crackdown and the arrests of several Hindraf activists.