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Look, speak and act like Indian, but…

 | June 20, 2012

MIC veep M Saravanan defends his party chief saying being vocal is not shouting on the streets but talking to those who matter.

INTERVIEW

PETALING JAYA: Some Malaysian Indian leaders, be they from non-governmental organisations or political parties, “may look like an Indian, speak like an Indian and act like an Indian” but they are in fact not Indian.

“These people portray as though they care for the community but in fact they do not. They criticise those who are out helping the community. They point fingers at others. They make a whole load of baseless accusations without checking the facts and figures.

“They also say they have the Indian community at heart… but in fact they are not Indian at all. They speak with a forked tongue… when with the Indian community they say something but when they are not with the community, they say something else,” MIC vice-president M Saravanan told FMT in an interview today.

The Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Deputy Minister said while the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government had been trying its best to assist the 1.8 million Malaysian Indian population since the 2008 general election, there were still people criticising the MIC, which is a component of the BN.

He said the silence of party president G Palanivel in the media did not mean that the party was not working towards the betterment of the community as “voicing out does not mean shouting on the streets or appearing on newspapers every day”.

“Palanivel’s success should not be measured on the loudness of his voice but the effectiveness of the voice. Today, the BN government is allocating a lot for the community, this is not done without MIC speaking up. We speak at the right forum, to the right people,” he added.

He said Palanivel, who took the helm of the 630,000-member party in 2009 from S Samy Vellu, has shown clear direction in highlighting Indian community issues to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who has in turn provided solutions to the community’s woes.

“Everyone must realise that there is no such thing as an Indian problem or a Chinese problem… it is all a Malaysian problem. Previously we had only one ministership with Samy Vellu holding the position.

“But now we have two ministers and both are highlighting our problems at the right forum. This has given us more voice. The nation’s top leadership is concerned and is addressing our issues. Even component parties like MCA, Gerakan and PPP are lending a helping hand in tackling Indian woes.

“In addition to this, BN-friendly parties like the Indian Progressive Front [IPF], the Malaysian Indian United Party [MIUP] and the Makkal Sakthi party are with us on this. In addition, many non-governmental organisations [NGOs] approach the prime minister directly. With all this, people are getting the impression that Palanivel is not vocal,” said Saravanan.

Perception issue

On the other hand, the deputy minister said the government, especially Najib, need to be careful in tackling Indian issues as “some leaders, championing a cause are doing it with their own agenda and the community was aware of this trend.

He said while the MIC with the BN were delivering, both are saddled by a perception issue, “therefore we need to do strategic planning to handle problems and issues”.

“Tamil schools are an example… for the first time in the 2011 Budget, the government allocated RM100 million to upgrade Tamil schools but yet people are criticising. The government should allocate the sum every year for the next four years. We would solve Tamil school problems once and for all,” he said.

On the business front, he said the government should set an outright percentage for Indian participation in government projects.

“It can be from five percent to 15 percent. As long as there is a percentage,” he added.

Citing an example, he said the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has a standing policy not to award any contracts to non-Bumiputera contractors when it fact it receives a huge chunk of allocation from the ministry.

“In the last 50 years not even one non-Bumiputera contractor had benefited from DBKL. These are the kind of policies that needed to be changed. It would be better to set a percentage and let the non-Bumiputeras fight for the contracts.

“Indians need more policy amendments in the business field for them to be able to partake in government projects. This will make them inclusive of the government and allow these contractors to be appreciative of it.

“The government must undertake serious efforts to ensure Indians are not left behind. The same with temples. Schools and temples have been a major problem for Indians since independence,” he said.

On temples, Saravanan said the government must come out with a policy to ensure land is set aside for places of worship in any housing development. At present, housing developers need only set aside a small parcel of land for a surau or a mosque.

“Apart from this, local councils must also give approval for any temple construction plans submitted by an existing temple. Hindus believe that temples must be reconstructed or upgraded every 12 years. The ceremony is called Khumbhabhishekam (consecration) ceremony. If they do not, then they are deemed to have committed a sin.

“How are they going to reconstruct or renovate temples when local councils do not give approval? Local councils need to be sensitive to the fact that Hindus do it. The local councils are ignorant because there is no Hindus employed to tell them this.

“Local councils also say that they cannot grant approval because the temple is on government land. “But this is not a good excuse.


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