What keeps him tick­ing

The Star Malaysia - - Focus -

THE se­ri­ous busi­ness of run­ning a min­istry means that Se­na­tor P. Waytha Moor­thy is a busy man th­ese days. But for him, it’s been like that for quite some time. In fact, he con­sid­ers his per­sonal life to have played a sec­ondary role ever since his Hin­draf days.

“I have for­got­ten what I am like when I re­lax and have fun! It’s been too long! I am into an­tiques.

“Be­fore my ac­tivism that’s what I did. I col­lect clocks in par­tic­u­lar, I liked to wind them up and see their move­ment and lis­ten to their tick­ing, and since the an­tiques are ob­vi­ously quite old, they would need clean­ing.”

An­other pas­sion of his was trav­el­ling off the beaten track. Not for him the bustling me­trop­o­lis. “I used to like to just take off on long train jour­neys with no par­tic­u­lar des­ti­na­tion, but it’s been more than 12 years since I last did that.”

For most of our in­ter­view, Waytha Moor­thy is busi­nesslike and full of de­ter­mi­na­tion, but our con­ver­sa­tion sud­denly takes a sur- pris­ingly emo­tional tone when I ask him about fam­ily time.

“I lost that quality time. I only have one child, one daugh­ter, and to be very hon­est, I have ne­glected her from the age of three,” he says. “She’s 16 now and well, she grew up with her mother. It’s sad.”

He feels that as his com­mit­ment to the cause grew, he paid a heavy toll by sac­ri­fic­ing vi­tal as­pects of his per­sonal life.

“Some­times, it’s a price we have to pay. It used to be my dream that when she stepped into school at the age of seven that I would hold her hand and take her into school with a bunch of roses for her teacher. But I never got the chance. I was in ex­ile then. There are many things that I have not been able to do for her.”

He takes com­fort in the pos­si­bil­ity that his ac­tivism and sub­se­quent po­lit­i­cal ca­reer could help bring about a bet­ter coun­try Malaysia for his daugh­ter and fu­ture generations.

“That’s what I keep telling her dur­ing the lit­tle time that I spent with her. That I do things so that many other chil­dren will ben­e­fit. I have told her that I would love to see her con­tinue my work but I have al­ways left it to her to de­cide what she wants to do. At the same time, I am ex­pos­ing her to the

work that I am do­ing.”

He re­mains op­ti­mistic that the new ad­min­is­tra­tion will make his life’s sac­ri­fice worth­while. “I am con­fi­dent that this govern­ment is se­ri­ous and there is a clear com­mit­ment to as­sist­ing the In­dian com­mu­nity. I will do my part,” he says.

– Filepic circa 2012

Per­sonal sac­ri­fice: Waytha Moor­thy re­grets not spend­ing more time with his fam­ily, es­pe­cially his daugh­ter Vais­navi, who is now al­ready 16 years old.

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