THE MIC is upset that they were given cold shoulders by UMNO in not allocating seats for the party candidates in the forthcoming state elections.
Some say that the MIC were virtually bullied in the seats denial. This could perhaps explain why some disgruntled sections in Selangor decided to switch support to Perikatan Nasional (PN).
While MIC might take disciplinary action against this particular Selangor leader, there is general perception that the MIC was given a raw deal by UMNO. This is the reason why the MIC and MCA decided to sit out the state elections.
The cold shoulder given to MIC has given rise to discontent among MIC not just in Selangor but in other states. The perception is not so much about MIC per se but how the unity government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is treating the Indian community.
The racist statement by an incumbent PKR state assemblyman against Indians has not endeared PKR to Indians. The fact that the assemblyman was given a seat in the next state election Selangor infuriated the Indians further.
Moreover, the dropping of two Indian candidates arbitrarily in Penang was not pleasing to the Indians either. So, the denial of state seats for the MIC has come to be interpreted in a broad sense.
It is no more the internal matter of the Barisan Nasional (BN). MIC has been steadfastly a loyal party to UMNO for decades within the BN. MIC never betrayed UMNO even under circumstances where Indians were bypassed in the provision of benefits. The least UMNO could have done was to negotiate some seats for both MIC and MCA.
Hence, Anwar sprang into action to meet the MIC leaders today (Aug 2). He realises that the apparent rift between UMNO and MIC in denial of seats to the latter is much more a national Indian affair rather than confined to the MIC.
I am not sure how Anwar is going to heal the wounds of the party that once was the representative of the Indian community. MIC might not have the support like in the earlier days but still has a sizeable support nationally do the damage.
Anwar’s immediate task is to control the damage to ensure the Indians will remain loyal to PH and the unity government.
But the core problem is not just UMNO or its relationship with MIC but the perception that Indians are not getting the respect and dignity they deserve in the country. Anwar must go beyond his usual rhetoric that Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and others are his children.
Anwar’s immediate task is to convince MIC that the unity government has the best interests of the party and the community. However, in what ways that Anwar is going to convince MIC or the Indians in general is difficult to fathom at the moment.
For Anwar, it is not just MIC but the Indian voters in about 60 state constituencies. The presence of Indian voters might determine the outcome of the state elections.
Indians have to be taken seriously whether they are MIC members or members of DAP and PKR. The ongoing MIC’s disenchantment with UMNO which resulted in the intervention of Anwar is all about how Indians are treated in the country.
The issue is bigger than MIC now! – Aug 2, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.