Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pakatan’s situation viv-a-vis Indians

Speech by M.Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman at the PR INDIAN LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE SESSION in Penang on 2/4/11

Pakatan’s situation viv-a-vis Indians

First things, first. Indian or, more precisely, Hindu sentiment played a galvanizing role in the prelude and culmination of the last general election.

Indians were aggrieved by the videotape of the destruction of a nearly century-old temple in Shah Alam that took place in July 2007.

Hindraf disseminated the tape widely and used it to draw a huge throng of supporters to their famous gathering of 25th November, 2007. Some say, Chinese voters took heart from the display of Hindu solidarity and were moved to join Indians and disenchanted Malays in rejecting BN in the general election of March 2008.

The spectacle of Hindu activism which helped deny BN their customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and the loss of four states - Penang, Perak, Kedah and Selangor - to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, in addition to Pas’ retention of Kelantan, inevitably stoked unrealistic expectations on the part of Indian Malaysians.

This was understandable given the magnitude of results of the general election. Pakatan, despite granting due recognition to Indian electoral support by giving a deputy chief ministership and a speaker’s post to Indians, were at a disadvantage when trying to meeting the broader expectations of the community.

Increased allocations for Tamil schools, land for squatters for residential and agro-based enterprises, scholarships for poor Indian students, higher intake of Indians into the civil service, allocations for welfare programmes targeting Indians, and allocations for the upkeep of crematoriums, were measures that required Pakatan’ control of the federal government rather than merely the control of a few, albeit, significant states.

The Kampong Buah Pala issue on Penang island underscored the helplessness of Pakatan in trying to satisfy the needs of Indians in the face of the control of bureaucracies and ancillary matters by authorities if not hostile, then unsympathetic to Pakatan.

What more could the Pakatan Government have done in the Kg. Buah Pala case?

The MIC manipulated and gave a negative picture of the Kg.Buah Pala issue successfully to the voters in the by-elections for the state seat of Bagan Pinang in Negri Sembilan in October 2009 and in the parliamentary seat of Hulu Selangor in April 2010.

The euphoria over Indian success at helping to change the political scenario in the country had waned by the middle of 2010, causing analysts to think that the Indian voter was drifting back to BN.

BN by-election victories in Tenang in Johor, Kerdau and Merlimau in Pahang and Malacca respectively earlier this year only underscored the talk of Indian disenchantment with Pakatan and a return to BN.

How do we check and reverse this trend?

There is no magic formula for Indian betterment that does not require Pakatan’s occupation of Putrajaya. A Pakatan central government would improve the fortunes of Indians across the board -- from employment in the civil service, to mother tongue education, to land for the deserving landless.

But short of occupation of Putrajaya, what can Pakatan do tell Indian Malaysians that their future is better sticking with Pakatan than returning to BN.

Fortunately, for Pakatan the Interlok issue, which Indians brought up for national attention, has now stirred the Chinese to anger and denunciation of the novel.

Pakatan has to fight this novel’s retention as a literary text in schools not only because it is derogatory to Indians, Chineses and also Malays, but also because the book mirrors the intention of the Umno-directed bureaucracy to infuse the non-Malays with a subservient mind-set.
Therefore, Pakatan has to sustain a concerted effort to reject the novel’s use in schools and tell all races that cultural imperialism is a big ‘No-No’ in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the general election, which is expected in the middle or late this year or early in 2012, the Pakatan governments of Penang and Selangor must be conspicuous in dealing out aid in the fields of welfare and education to Indians.

When such aid is rendered, we have to publicize these deeds so that Indians can see that Pakatan is certainly not indifferent to their plight.

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