Stop hoodwinking the Indian community
Sweet words and false promises will further alienate Indians, says Charles Santiago.
COMMENTBy Charles Santiago
Sometimes numbers do not matter. What’s shocking is the fact that Indians are stateless in their own homeland.
So let’s not fight about whether there are 9,000 Indians with no documents or 300,000.
And since Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has admitted, by default I must say, that there are thousands of stateless Indians, he must mobilise a special team to ensure they are registered immediately. Making promises to look into the problem cannot be accepted anymore.
And this is more so when Indonesians hold Malaysian papers and are able to obtain them easily.
Indians came to this country a century ago to work the tin mines and rubber plantations and have contributed greatly to the building of Malaysia.
They were instrumental in the clearing of land for infrastructure, established rubber plantations, built the roads, set up transmission lines as well as managed early Malayan railways, ports and airports.
But fast-forward to 2012 and thousands of Indians would go to the streets of Putrajaya on Wednesday to demand the government recognises their inherent rights as citizens of this country.
And all Najib does is hold out an olive branch at MIC’s AGM and insult the community by referring to them as ruling Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit.
Najib has clearly got it wrong. If he thinks Indians are going to throw their support behind him and his coalition unthinkingly, he better think again.
It may be true that with Malaysia’s politics firmly divided along racial lines and Indians not having a majority in any parliamentary seat, many had resigned themselves to their plight. But that has changed in recent years.
In 2007, tens of thousands of Indians took to the streets demanding reforms. That call has not disappeared. Indians have been vocally airing their dissatisfaction with the ruling government, which has been too complacent to look into their rightful demands.
So I won’t be all that wrong if I conclude that the permanent smile plastered on Najib’s face at the recent MIC AGM and his sweet words were just a ploy to further hoodwink a marginalised community.
I wonder if he can stoop lower than this to hold on to power.
Despite most Indians being here three of four generations, they are now emerging as the new underclass with relatively high levels of hardcore poverty as a large section of Malaysian Indians sharing less than 1.6% of the country’s wealth.
And that too after making this country their home since the 19th century.
Therefore Najib shouldn’t be offering false promises of citizenships to the Indians. He must instead walk the talk as it is the only fair thing to do.
Charles Santiago is DAP’s MP for Klang.