Saturday, August 14, 2010

Indians must again rise up to the occasion and play their kingmaker role in the next election to deal BN with its worst electoral defeat

Speech by M.Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP Ipoh Barat at the Indian community meeting held at 2pm on August 15 , 2010 in Sitiawan to discuss the Federal Government's proposed acquisition of DIA land.

Local Indian community makes it clear that under no circumstances shall the 2hectares of DIA land be acquired by the Federal Government

Yesterday, a meeting of local Indian community leaders was held in Sitiawan to discuss the impending proposed acquisition of the Dindings Indian Association (DIA) land by the Federal Government.

Among those who were present and spoke at the meeting were Pennag Deputy Chief Minister YB Professor Ramasamy, PKR MP YB Gobalakrishnan, DIA president, Dr.Jayabalan, Dr.Shanmugam and myself.

The 2 hectare land was purchased in the 1930’s with the hard earned money contributed by the rubber tappers from over 35 estates in and around Sitiawan.

The acquisition of the whole piece of land is scheduled to be heard at 10 am on 25thAugust2010 at the Manjung land office.

Participants at the meeting reflected the sentiment and stand of the local Indian community, that is, under no circumstances shall the land be acquired as:-

1) this is the only land the Indian community can say it’s theirs and it was bought with their sacrifice

2) there are so much of lands around Sitiawan which can be acquired to build a school etc.

In fact, just about 1/2 kilometer from the proposed acquired land, there are 2500 acres of oil palm estate known as Sg. Wangi Estate which belongs to the Sime Darby group, a Government linked company (GLC).Some 15 years ago, about 150acreas of land were acquired from Sg. Wangi Estate by the Defence Ministry to build an airport.

Hence, the question that arises is that if acquisition of the estate land could be done 15 years ago to build an airport, why can’t the land be acquired now to build a school? Why should the Federal government target the DIA land?The Federal government’s move to acquire the DIA land is viewed as unfair, unnecessary, insensitive and unjustifiable.

The local community feels that whatever compensation, whether in terms of money or alternative land is unacceptable and will be repulsive to the community.

The community wants this land to be declared "Little India" to house Indian cultural and business activities.

The meeting suggested that people should be mobilized to attend the acquisition meeting scheduled on 25 th August, 2010 at Manjung land office.

Pamphlets distribution will be done during house to house visit to call on the people to rise to the occasion and make their strong and clear stand that under no circumstances shall the land be acquire.
Indians form less than 10% of the population in this country.

We are said to be the better ones in the fields of medicine, law and the likes. Yet 40 percent of detainees at Simpang Renggam detention camp are Indians. Why? This is sad but this is not the only sad fact. The Indians in Malaysia are also said to have:-

1) the highest rate of school drop outs
2) the highest illiteracy rate
3) the highest suicide rates
4) the highest without identification card and birth certificates
5) the highest number of single mothers

6) the highest rate of alcoholics
7) the highest rate of jail detainees

But let’s be clear that the Indians problem is not a race problem but a Malaysian problem.

If MIC has been effective, the Indians would not have been so marginalized with so many problems unresolved. If BN has been fair, the majority of Indians who have been said to be BN’s traditional loyal supporters for decades would not have helped create the political tsunami which gave BN its worst electoral debacle in the 2008 general election.

March 8, 2008 was a historic day not only in the electoral record and of Malaysia; it was a day that the Indian voters created history as they had become the “Kingmakers” in the general election.

Indian votes had helped Pakatan Rakyat to capture power in the states of Penang, Perak, Kedah and Selangor. The political awakening of the long marginalized community had also helped smash the traditional two thirds parliamentary majority enjoyed by the BN.

Many political writers have written about the Indian vote swing against the BN and said that the Indians had woken up. Indeed the Indian voters woke up and roared like a lion.

But today, MIC president Dato Samy is still sleeping. He still does not get the political message from the Indian political awakening.

Neither has the BN government woken up. Many BN politicians seem to believe that come next general election, the Indian voters will swing back to the BN like the pendulum. Some seem to believe that when the Indians’ emotions have died down, they will run back to the BN. Some definitely believe that the Indians can be easily pacified with the dishing out of some political goodies.

The Prime Minister himself is chairing a Cabinet Committee for Indian Community. But what has the Committee done to date? Nothing much in terms of policy changes to help the Indian community.

So loud is the 1 Malaysia slogan . BN says it means justice for everyone. But can all Malaysians feel that there is an equal place for everyone under the Malaysian sun?
The slogan rings hollow.

But we must ponder why has the Prime Minister’s approval rating among the Indian community gone up?

According to a public opinion survey carried out in May 6 to 16 this year by the Merdeka Centre, Najib’s popularity rose to 72%, up from 69% in April this year.
The survey saw a massive 80% approval from Indians, followed by Malays at 77% and Chinese at 58%.

A survey conducted and released in June last year found that since becoming the Prime Minister in April, support for Najib came from the Malay Malaysian and Indian Malaysian communities, with 53% and 64% expressing satisfaction respectively. Only 24% of Chinese Malaysian respondents said they were satisfied.

In the Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor by elections, the results too showed Indian vote swing back to the BN.

May be this is why SamyVellu can afford to continue sleeping and BN can continue to do little for the Indian community.

In fact, the BN government is again beginning to become arrogant and insensitive. One example is the recent proposed acquisition of the Dindings Indian Association land situated in the center of Sitiawan.

This piece of land was bough with contribution by Indian rubber tappers in the 1930’s and yet the BN Government could be so unfair and insensitive to want to acquire it!

I must be frank and realistic in admitting that the Indian voter swing back to the BN is not without basis. Pakatan Rakyat must see this as a wakeup call and implement strategies to arrest the swing.

I wish to remind the Indian voters that MIC and the BN government have not changed much or done much for the community since the 2008 general election.
A kick is not enough .The Indian voters must therefore give the BN a second and harder kick in the next general election.

The Indians must again rise up to the occasion and play their Kingmaker role in the next general election to deal BN with its worst electoral defeat.

M.Kula Segaran

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