Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has totally denounced a planned forum on Indian issues between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, saying it was an attempt to pit the community members against each other.
Ramasamy (left) said the forum, organised by Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) for this Sunday in Shah Alam between Indians leaders was “meaningless” as they were not responsible for the dire straits of the community.
He laid the blame squarely on Umno, and challenged the organisers to hold a debate instead between Pakatan and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
“Why should Indians debate Indians? I want to debate with Najib, because Umno is the cause of backwardness in the Indian community,” he told reporters in Penang.
“Why must we again marginalise the Indians? Why do I need to debate with MIC, it is a spineless body under Umno, who is the master puppeteer,” added the Batu Kawan MP.
Dubbed “the battle to win hearts and minds for the Indian vote”, the forum will feature heavyweights from both sides of the political divide including Indian NGO representatives.
G Palanivel (right), the newly-minted MIC chief, his PPP counterpart M Kayveas, and Gerakan senator A Kohillan Pillay are slated to represent the ruling coalition.
Ramasamy, PKR's Xavier Jayakumar and PSM's Dr Michael Jeyakumar are supposed to speak on the outlook for Indian Malaysians in the next general election.
'Never officially invited'
Ramasamy, who is DAP international bureau secretary, said he was never officially invited for the forum and was unaware of the matter until he saw his name in the newspapers.
He added he was “shocked” that his name was already in the news promoting the event although the organisers had not obtained his consent nor confirmed his attendance.
“I only received a call from Miba three days ago, and I told them I have a prior programme to attend,” he said.
“I am not comfortable that they have used my name without permission. It is wrong to do that because it seems as if I endorse the event and have agreed to participate when I do not want to,” he added.
“It is not that I am afraid to debate but it is pointless to debate with MIC or Indian leaders from BN who have no backbone and who are not the ones responsible for the Indian situation,” he stressed.
Ramasamy is also upset that the organisers are charging participants RM100 each to participate in the event, which will focus on the promises made to the community and their expectations after the 2008 'political tsunami'.
He added that he was prepared for a public debate anywhere but asking participants to fork out RM100 is “preposterous”.
“Is it because they want only selected members to attend? The fees may be paid by MIC to get their members to participate for an ego-boosting exercise for their leaders,” Ramasamy quipped.