Dare the Indian poor hope when 2 UMNO luminaries express concern for them?

MAVERICK politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s concern for the Indian poor comes at a time when Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (main pic) expressed a similar sentiment.

Zaid who has recently re-joined UMNO had apparently spent a few hours in the Brickfields area of Kuala Lumpur surveying the pre-Deepavali festivity – and after probably having helped himself to a banana leaf meal – gave vent to his concerns for the Indian poor.

He took to X (formerly Twitter) to say that the Indian poor needed help and could best access it by obtaining Malay leadership to lobby for their cause.

As for Zahid, a pre-Deepavali function in Bagan Datuk over the weekend led him to be comparably solicitous for the same demographic.

After intimating he is thinking of making his current term his last one as an MP, the UMNO president equivocated when pressed by the media for a time frame for his retirement.

Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Bagan Datuk pre-Deepavali celebration over the weekend
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim: An UMNO member with a Perikatan Nasional (PN)-slant

He said he first wanted to help Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to abolish dire poverty among Indians, Chinese and Malays in the country before bowing out of the parliamentary fray.

Observers of the nuances would have noticed that Zahid, according to national agency Bernama, put the Indians at the top of the list of concerns when talking of the unity government’s determination to abolish absolute poverty among all races.

Is embracing Malay leadership the answer?

It is unwise to read too much into Indian prioritisation in that hierarchy but for a DPM from UMNO to announce so says something of the reckoning that went behind the public pronouncement.

Meanwhile, Zaid Ibrahim took a different tack in his espousal of the cause of the Indian poor.

After admitting the Indian poor deserved help, he said they should get together and seek the help of Malay leadership to gain greater access to state aid for the education and training needs of their young.

He implied factional rivalry among the Malay political leadership called for Indian realism about which quarter to back in order to gain state aid for the community’s urgent needs.

It was a matter-of-fact opinion which the community would readily agree with save for the esteem-lowering reality that Indian upliftment is reliant on Malay sufferance.

The truth is the truth. No amount of hurt should stand in the way of admitting it and following through with the option that beckons.

When two UMNO luminaries simultaneously display concern for the community’s poor, conditions are favourable for the community to unitedly approach a faction in the Malay leadership arena for help in implementing an agenda of advancement in return for electoral support. – Nov 6, 2023


Terence Netto is a journalist with 50 years in an occupation that demands resistance to fleeting impressions.

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

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE