IT IS unfortunate that the dissatisfaction of the Indian community with the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has started even before he could complete his one year in office.
The recent state elections gave some clear and unequivocal message that the Indian community is dissatisfied with the government in power.
They are beginning to realise that Anwar who showed much promise to deliver the Indians from the economic and social doldrums might be different man with power in his hands.
Maybe he has too many things in his hands but is it fair to Indians who have waited more than 66 years from being emancipated from poverty, unemployment, business opportunities and others to be ignored or glossed over?
Being Malaysians is just not good enough for Malaysian Indians who constitute about 7% to 8% of the population if official figures are correct. Indians do not need affirmative action programmes which are unfortunately misapplied for reasons of ethnicity.
Indians need to be respected and treated fairly and equally as citizens. It is not that they don’t deserve such treatment as their contributions to the development and well-being of the country are beyond dispute.
They supported the Barisan Nasional (BN) government but was badly taken for long ride. After the HINDRAF rally, Indian support gravitated to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and later Pakatan Harapan (PH).
When the unity government was formed under the leadership of Anwar last November, it was a moment awaited for by millions of Indians. They realised that Anwar was the “knight in the shining armour” sent to liberate Indians from poverty, racial discrimination and other forms of oppression.
However, Anwar’s last 10 months in power seems to be sending the wrong signals to Indians in the country. Their political representatives in PH, DAP and PKR have little or no respect for Indians.
Important leaders who were respected by the community have been sidelined before the last general and recent state elections.
Parties such as the DAP and PKR might still get Indian support but the decline is conspicuous. There are clear indications that the unity government has little or no desire to assist the Indian community in the future.
The increasing Malay support towards Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the last general and recent state elections has proved to be worrisome for the government.
There is feeling that since Chinese and Indian support can be taken for granted, the unity government must shift to the right to appease the Malay political right embodied in PN, Bersatu and PAS being the two components.
This would explain why Anwar defended the quota system of entry into the matriculation system, re-nominated a racist PKR candidate who used a racist slur on Indians and not the least, Anwar’s unpardonable conversion of an Indian youth to Islam.
The conversion was something unacceptable to Indians, the majority being Hindus. The very act of Anwar personally presiding over the conversion sent a message that he had no respect for the Hindu community. If he has no respect for Indians, why should the Indians respect him in turn?
PKR’s membership consists of 40% Indians but such a large number means little or nothing to Indians. After the unity government was established in November 2022, Anwar couldn’t even appoint a PKR Indian candidate to be minister.
It is not that Indians have totally abandoned the ship of the unity government. However, dissatisfaction has set in starting with the recent state elections. It might continue because Indians are angry and frustrated. A search for a political alternative might be in the offing.
If the unity government thinks that Indian support is something that can be taken for granted or not crucial, then this should be done in full view of the political consequences. – Sept 3, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.