“14 GEs later, have the lives of M’sian Indians truly changed for the better?”

IN TWO days, ethnic Indians in Malaysia and all over the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, the triumph of good over evil and the conquest of light over darkness.

And this year, Malaysians alike will welcome this celebration amid the buzz in the air on political party campaigns leading to what many say is the mother of all general elections, the 15th General Election (GE15).

Come what may, it is also a time for the revival of old traditions, beliefs and cultures to resurface and emerge, surrounded by delicious food, laughter all the colours of the rainbow and joyous music and songs in the air.

While we look forward to reunions amongst family members and friends, the looming general elections are a sound reminder of the power within the hands of Malaysians, at home and abroad, to vote in a Government by, of and for the people.

Fourteen elections have come and gone but have the lives of Malaysian Indians truly transformed and changed for the better?

Pledges have been made for six decades by Barisan Nasional (BN) but did it bring true reform in the country and change the lives of the rakyat?

Twenty-two months under Pakatan Harapan saw institutional reforms and such but real change happens when lives are touched.

Today, we have passed two important legislations in Parliament – the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act and amendments to the Penal Code to criminalise stalking to protect women and men from being victims of harassment and stalking.

The i-Suri scheme, initiated by Pakatan back then, is cemented today as the Social Security Scheme for Housewives, a safety net for housewives in the country which had never been done.

Besides that, a “zero-reject” policy was in place by the Education Ministry so no child would be rejected from attending school, which is a fundamental right to education.

Supported women from all walks of life

Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan (and Melaka before the change of Government) had supported women from all walks of life, including those in home-based industries, through state agencies such as the Penang Women Development Corporation in Penang, Institut Wanita Berdaya in Selangor and Power House Wanita Gemilang in Negeri Sembilan.

Today, we have the Sidang Wanita programme to identify leadership abilities among women to be groomed to be future leaders in the country in an effort to achieve a minimum 30% quota of women in politics and at the decision-making level.

MPs from Pakatan had submitted the issue of the misappropriation of Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) funds to be investigated by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and I had submitted a question on the MAIKA Holdings investigations but Parliament was dissolved on Oct 10, bringing our work to a standstill.

Many Malaysian Indian Blueprints (MIB) have come and gone and, to date, one is in place but how can Malaysians be sure that its contents are implemented?

What is needed is an independent select committee in Parliament that, like the PAC, has the power and authority to summon ministers, heads of departments and Government agencies, for scrutiny and check and balance.

A long-term plan, solution and oversight mechanism are needed to ensure that pledges of change and reform materialise.

Today, there are 11 Parliamentary Special Select Committees (PSSCs) that have been working to investigate, inquire, audit and monitor Government expenditures, policies and programmes, and it was something that Pakatan succeeded in – Parliamentary reform. And that is where the voices and the concerns of the people are raised with answers to questions.

Pakatan has proven that in 22 months, so much can be done – with political will and the real desire to see change.

Yes, there were many things that we aspired to do but our stay at Putrajaya was short-lived as a result of betrayals and political chess play.

But we must be hopeful that Pakatan will be the Government that all Malaysians deserve, and that hope must be transformed into votes on Nov 19, 2022.

Above all, it is crucial for every Malaysian to come out in full force in this election to send a message that we deserve the Government that we want – one that upholds the interest of all communities in Malaysia, without fear or favour.

Let those hands that light the kuthuvilakku (lamps) be the hands that bring a much-needed change of leadership in the country and in the lives of every single Malaysian to steer Malaysia to be the best version of herself.

Wishing all Indians and all Malaysians a courageous, hopeful and joyous Deepavali celebration! May good triumph over evil in all our lives. – Oct 22, 2022


Kasthuri Patto is the former Batu Kawan MP and DAP deputy secretary for international affairs.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia


Main photo credit: Mashable

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