Letter to editor
THERE is an on-going debate in the news portals about the need to form a new party for Malaysian Indians to ensure that the political and electoral strength of the community is fully optimised so that the government of the day hears their strident calls for assistance.
I personally feel that a new party or even an NGO (non-governmental organisation) cannot offer much headway given the present circumstances where a two-party system has emerged – possibly permanently – in which one party is multi-racial and the other being Malay-centric.
Indians should not be sandwiched between these two main blocs. Indians within these coalitions can become a force to be reckoned with if they use their head and right strategy to punch above their weight so to speak.
We need to see whether the present arrangement will benefit the Indian community before starting a new party. About 40% of PKR members are Indians whereas DAP has 30% and this has yet to take into account the mono-ethnical MIC which is also part of the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance.
With such numbers, it is imperative that Indians should demonstrate their strength to their respective party leadership while lobbying for more allocations and assistance schemes from the government.
Additionally, the one-man show Indian parties – labelled as mosquito parties – should be de-registered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) as they split Indian votes further. At present, these parties are more of a nuisance.
Indian votes have been a major factor in the West Coast states, especially in the urban multi-racial constituencies. Indians need to make the power that be fully aware of the consequences of their swing of votes during elections. As such, they should not be meek in making demands.
In the recent Selangor state election, two seats were lost within the Kuala Selangor parliamentary constituency due to disaffection with the PH government since the formation of the unity government last November.
In the next general election, it could be 20 seats which could mean the curtain comes down for PH in Selangor. This was the obvious and strong message the Indian community sent to the Selangor Menteri Besar and indirectly to the unity government helmed by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The government needs to treasure Indians as an asset to the nation given their past sacrifices, hard work and loyalty. They have every right to fight for their share of the economic cake. Anwar should not be unduly concerned that helping the Indian community could invite a backlash from the Malays. As it is, Anwar is seemingly wooing the Malay community at the expense of others.
No PM since Independence has helped the Indian community like Datuk Seri Najib Razak who did the utmost for the Indians whom he felt have been marginalised and therefore even mooted poverty-eradication programmes for the benefit of the community.
No Malay leaders had questioned or criticised Najib for helping the Indians. As such, Anwar’s or his party’s excuse is flimsy.
Poor leadership quality
Indians should be classified as Indians and not as non-Malays as this categorisation has deprived them of various government projects, benefits and allocations.
Indians have been the main victims of such classification. One of the biggest handicaps is that the Indian community is not blessed with capable political leaders. The vast majority of them are self-seekers, downright foolish, negative-minded or short-sighted.
This predicament has trailed the community from Merdeka onwards. There is no visionary leader who has the missionary zeal and spirit to uplift the community by examples and endeavours.
The late Tun Samy Vellu had the makings of a visionary leader but his long tenure was fraught with confronting a fractious MIC, self-interested party members, the rural-urban migration of plantation workers, and his authoritarian ways that put an end to whatever good he wanted to do for the community.
He later found Indian problems too hot to handle. The ultimate outcome was the HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force) rally that put paid to his leadership and the MIC. Nevertheless, Indians need to revive the HINDRAF spirit in politics if they are to progress under any government.
We need more bold and knowledgeable leaders like former Penang chief minister II and DAP outcast Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy.
What Indians want is merely a fair deal. Despite all the impediments and hurdles, more than half of the community has prospered mainly due to their own efforts and initiatives. However, the rest are wallowing in poverty partly created by themselves and partly by the government.
Amid the looming Budget 2024 which will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat this Friday (Oct 13), Indian leaders and members in the PH coalition should send a list of demands on behalf of their community to the PM to test whether the coalition’s electoral manifesto to help the Indian community is really genuine or just a pretence to win power.
Merely giving a token amount to MITRA (Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit) or a little assistance here and there is not going to satisfy the Indian community who has every right to expect more initiatives and incentives from the unity government. – Oct 9, 2023
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.