PENANG deputy chief minister II Prof P. Ramasamy has questioned if MIC is biting off more than it can chew following news that the party is eyeing to contest 12 parliamentary seats in the upcoming 15th general election (GE15) – three more than its current allocation from Barisan Nasional (BN) since 2004.
The parliamentary seats in question are Tapah and Sungei Siput (Perak), Kapar, Sungai Buloh, Hulu Selangor, Kota Raja (Selangor), Port Dickson, (Negri Sembilan), Segamat, (Johor) and Cameron Highlands (Pahang).
“Two of the three additional seats are probably Padang Serai (Kedah) and Teluk Intan (Perak); at this stage MIC is still unsure about the third additional seat,” Ramasamy reckoned.
“MIC is asking for its traditional seats because UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had given the indication recently that MIC could ask for its traditional seats, and since Gerakan is no longer part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition some of the parliamentary seats allocated to Gerakan can be returned to MIC.”
The Perai assemblyperson noted that while MIC could ask for more parliamentary seats to be allocated to the party, whether it will get what it wants remains to be seen.
“In fact, MIC could ask for more seats…why stop at 12 parliamentary seats? But even if the seats are given to them, nobody knows if the party can achieve victory or not,” he remarked.
Ramasamy pointed out that without the support of fraternal parties in BN such as UMNO and MCA, MIC might not make it in most seats, and that the Malay support galvanised by UMNO is crucial for MIC’s political survival.
“This is the reason why MIC – despite its interest in contesting as many seats as possible – needs the backing of UMNO and the Malays because without Malay and to some extent Chinese support, MIC might not be able to stand on its own,” Ramasamy elaborated.
Indian voters, according to Ramasamy, have a sizeable presence in about 60 constituencies – both parliamentary and state – to make a difference in terms of winning or losing.
In order to increase MIC’s bargaining power, the party must be in a position to demonstrate to UMNO and MCA that majority of Indian voters are solidly behind MIC, he added.
“Unfortunately, MIC is not in the position to demonstrate or convince UMNO that it has the backing of Indian voters,” Ramasamy lamented, noting that over the years, the majority of
Indian voters in the country have deserted MIC and BN to support opposition parties like DAP and PKR.
“This is MIC’s dilemma…if Indians themselves don’t support MIC how are they going to expect support from the Malays or Chinese?”
However, Ramasamy stressed that the decline of Indian support for MIC is not entirely the party’s doing.
“The rise of UMNO as the dominant party in BN means that not just MIC but other ethnic political parties like MCA have lost their ethnic support,” he elaborated.
He said the ethnic leaders in MIC and MCA are being “totally subservient to UMNO” thus “causing irreparable damage” in maintaining support among the Indians and Chinese.
“As long as UMNO is the dominant hegemonic party, there is little MIC or MCA can do to reverse their political fortune,” he said. – Sept 23, 2022