Is the Indian community gullible?
Najib’s sudden concern now in wanting to preserve the Batu Caves temple and annul the condominium project are at best an insult to the rakyat and the Indian community.
COMMENTThe Indian community needs a rude awakening to realise that its interests have never been near and dear to the Barisan Nasional-led federal government.
Had BN been sincere in looking after the welfare of the Indians, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak would never dare make a quid pro quo deal with the community, offering them “flavoured” crumbs in return for their votes, that too using religious occasions to further his political motives.
When he replaced Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the nation’s sixth prime minister in 2008, the issue of making the Batu Caves temple a world heritage site never took root in Najib’s consciousness.
However, four years later, Najib makes a volte-face, promising to preserve Batu Caves, provided the Hindus help him recapture the state of Selangor which slipped into the hands of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact in the 12th general election.
Not just that, Najib has also said that the controversial 29-storey condominium project that was taking shape nearby the limestone temple would be scrapped – again provided if the Indian community did its part in helping him win back Selangor.
The upscale condominium project was objected to by many for fear that its proximity to the temple, a mere 120m from the iconic Lord Murugan statue, might disturb the soil structure of the Batu Caves temple
When the condominium issue first cropped up last month , BN showed no worry and instead dumped all blame on its nemesis Pakatan. However, it was later revealed that the green light for the project was given by none other than BN in 2007.
Najib’s stunning silence then and his sudden concern now in wanting to preserve the limestone temple and annul the condominium project are at best an insult to the rakyat and the Indian community.
Having enjoyed the comforts and perks that come with being the prime minister, why only now has Najib realised the architectural beauty and cultural value of the Batu Caves temple?
It seems that it is not the temple’s history that has prompted the premier to propose to Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) that Batu Caves be made a world heritage site; rather it is the political ploy that serves as a ruse for Najib to “buy” the Indian community’s nambikei (trust) in BN.
As tacky as these two offers are, the truth that remains hidden or that begs an answer is – is the Indian community a gullible one?
Would the Indians become hopelessly mesmerised by this so-called good news by their prime minister whose primary agenda rests on his own political survival?
Put your thinking cap on
Enough with the handouts; it is time the Indian community got a good shake-up, one that will help them see and understand that beneath the many sugar-coated promises, their prime minister truly has no compassion towards them.
Had the prime minister been a leader of the rakyat, he would never have allowed the aged families of the Bukit Jalil estate be left with no roof over their heads.
And had Najib been sincere in walking his talk of “people first, performance now”, his subordinates would never have the guts to castigate the Indians, accusing them of being ungrateful for the “Little India” development in Brickfields under BN.
If Najib was earnest, he would have directed Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim to approach Unesco with the proposal of gazetting the world-famous Batu Caves temple as a world heritage site as soon as he took over the country’s reins from Abdullah.
Batu Caves is essentially a limestone hill which houses several caves and cave temples, with the limestones forming Batu Caves said to be some 400 million years old.
It appears to have escaped Najib’s attention that Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India dedicated to Lord Murugan.
Likewise, after four years of calling the shots, Najib suddenly “noticed” the existence of Hindus in the Federal Territory of Labuan and decided that the Hindus there, despite a small number, could do with a public holiday come Deepavali.
In Najib’s words: “Although Labuan does not have many Hindus, but because Labuan is also part of the Federal Territories, it is also eligible to observe the day as a public holiday.”
Najib got it wrong there – the people of Labuan deserve a Deepavali public holiday as a mark of respect for the “Festival of Lights” and to respect and acknowledge the existence of Hindus in Labuan.
At the rate and way the Indian community is being voraciously manipulated by Najib as the BN chief, the time has come for the community to start wearing its thinking cap and reclaim the right to think for itself, instead of allowing one too many “spokespersons” to do the talking on their behalf, as happened when Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president KK Eswaran did when he urged the Indian community to declare its full support to the BN leadership.
When the poor Indians have no roof over their heads and sleep on empty stomachs, will Eswaran’s loyalty to BN mean anything to them? No!
Good deeds determine victory
In politics, timing is what makes or breaks a politician and it is here that Najib decided to play his cards well, presuming that the last bit of “good news” he relays to the rakyat will ensure his triumph in the looming 13th general election.
“Where there is a will, there is a way”, so goes the saying and looking at the BN track record of misleading the rakyat, there is no doubt left that the party will find a way to sustain its political will, albeit it serving an inconspicuous agenda.
First, it was during this year’s Thaipusam celebration that BN revealed its “true colours”. Then, Najib announced that an initial RM2 million had been allocated for the construction of an Indian cultural centre in Batu Caves.
The promise of a cable car facility was also made to the rakyat, giving the elderly Indians a hope of offering prayers to the deities seated at the summit of the temple.
That undertaking by BN failed to materialise as the cable car project was shelved to 2013 as the initial deadline this year could not be met.
Back then, too, Najib had hinted that he would make another “big announcement” which would benefit the Indian community. If the reference was to putting Batu Caves on Unesco’s World Heritage list, the beneficiaries for sure would not be the Indian community per se but BN and its cronies.
Should the prime minister think his “bribing” the Indian community by dangling “expensive” carrots will do the trick and bring him their votes, he better rethink.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.