No Malaysian politician must now think that Indian votes are fixed deposit.
COMMENT - FMT
In the last 60 years, Malaysian Indians aggressively supported Barisan Nasional. The Malaysian public in general have witnessed 12 general elections.
Approximately 80% of Malaysian Indians leaned in favour of BN up to the 11th general election.
The 12th general election in 2008 completely reshaped the political sphere of Malaysian politics wherein 65% of Malaysian Indians supported the various opposition parties resulting in BN not gaining two thirds majority in Parliament and losing five states to the opposition.
As for the Indians, the outcome of the 12th general election paved a new path in domestic policitcs.
However, public outcry of discrimination, marginalisation and segregation still steadily continue to date.
On the part of the establishment, there are piecemeal efforts to remedy the situation but to date have failed to provide and implement a comprehensive measure with permanent solutions.
There is a growing incompetency on the part of the establishment to identity and address some of the more pressing problems faced by the community.
There has been no direct intervention by the government to address such problems. Often when problems escalate, the easy way out is to outsource. This must be immediately halted. If the establishment is sincere and genuine, then your policies must reflect honesty.
While discrimination, segregation and marginalisation appear to be real and serious problems, issues pertaining to the Interlok novel, rampant demolishment of shrines, lack of scholarships, lack of job opportunities and promotions are still persistent.
The demands and expectations of the Malaysian Indian community have many times been raised and no establishment can be oblivious to the truth.
Additionally, the MIC does not possess the ability to lift the community from this dilemma single handedly. Therefore the collective effort of the private and public sector becomes essential and this can only be achieved if there is a genuine desire to uplift.
The community in general has heard many power-packed speeches from the past and present leaders. But they all failed to comprehensively outline the aspirations of the community.
While this is not welcomed nor desired, there is little the community can do to overcome this mayhem within the political sphere.
The community does not require a wishlist. What they require is a comprehensive plan, placing the community in the mainstream of development, with the ability to face immediate and future challenges.
A wishlist may not possess all or encompass the essential ingredients for a steady and continued development. Therefore, substantive and material policy changes become ever more necessary so as to ensure sustainability of the community in general.
Unless the government is ready and prepared to announce positive measures, no support will return to the coalition.
A material fact that cannot be ignored by the civil society is that the Indians have contributed immensely towards the well-being of the country.
The presence of Indians is evident in almost all sectors of development and services prior to independence. Post-independence, hostile policies drove Indians out of those essential sectors and services.
While the government desires Indian support and votes, unless there are proactive measures and steps undertaken and implemented with absolute honesty and genuineness, never will they return to support the coalition and their desertion will remain permanent.
The community is not asking for concessions and privileges. What instead it deserves is a comprehensive and practical measure that would contribute to its progress and development.
No Malaysian politician must now think that Indian votes are fixed deposit. If you fail to provide attention and interest and if you fail to implement a clear action plan you will be abandoned.
While we have a change in the leadership of MIC, such change need not necessarily bring about new policies and measures, for old habits die hard. Any political party within the coalition spectrum must learn to accept democratisation within the party.
Pandora’s box opened
The Indians in general have today matured and are forward thinking and they can no longer be hoodwinked or hypnotised like before.
This deplorable methods were used in the past to suppress the genuine voices and grievances of the community. Today the Pandora’s box has been opened and the cat has been let loose.
I strongly believe that winning the hearts of the Indians at the MIC assembly this weekend is pointless unless there is sincere and genuine effort to uplift the community.
If no constructive measures are announced at the assembly then once again at the 13th general election the BN will be severely whipped.
R Kengadharan is a lawyer and a former ISA detainee.