R Ganesan says 65% of Indian voters will support BN.
In an interview with FMT, he displayed optimism about the party’s chances in Perak in the coming general election, saying he was confident of 65% support from the 159,000 registered Indian voters in the state.
MIC has 59,000 members in the state. Ganesan, who is also the Speaker of the Perak State Legislative Assembly, seemed confident that a large majority of those members would vote for Barisan Nasional and that MIC would be able to gain the support of “at least” 45,000 other voters before the election is called.
Asked to explain why he thought Indian voters had changed their perception of MIC since 2008, when they turned their back on the party, he said: “It’s all a question of being pro-active in solving the problems of the community.”
Since 2008, MIC has set up what Ganesan calls “grievance centres” at most of its offices to address the problems of the Indian community.
“The Indians have been coming to us for solving problems concerning temples, Tamil schools and land matters, even when Pakatan was ruling the state,” he said.
“Pakatan knows only how to criticise BN and talk. It is BN that can solve their problems.”
Ganesan also rejected the Pakatan allegation that MIC had failed to solve the problem of stateless Malaysian-born Indians despite being part of the federal administration since the country’s independence from British rule.
He said BN had set up a special committee to look into this decades-old problem. Without providing figures, he claimed that MIC had solved the citizenship problems of “many” stateless Indians in the state.
In the 2008 general election, MIC was virtually uprooted from Perak, winning only the Tapah parliamentary seat. It lost the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat and the four state seats of Pasir Panjang, Hutan Melintang, Sungkai and Behrang.
Ganesan confirmed that MIC would contest these six seats again in the coming election, but he declined to name the candidates.
However, there is speculation that Umno is eyeing the Pasir Panjang state constituency – where Malays make up 65.7% of voters – in its determination to punish former menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.
MCA rejects deal
In return, sources say, Umno will let MIC either place a candidate for another state seat or retain the speaker’s seat.
According to one MIC source, the party wants the state seat of Tronoh as replacement for Pasir Panjang. BN traditionally allocates Tronoh to MCA, but the seat is currently occupied by DAP’s V Sivakumar.
Initially, MIC was eyeing the Buntong seat, which is reputed to have the highest number of Indian voters in the nation. It was planning to swap this MCA seat with Sungkai, now held by DAP. However, MCA has reportedly rejected the deal.
It was speculated earlier that S Vell Paari would contest for the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat, formerly held by his father, ex-party president S Samy Vellu. However, this plan has apparently been abandoned. A MIC insider who spoke to FMT would only say that the “the present political situation” in the party would not allow this.
The current speculation is that the party’s secretary-general, S Murugesan, will stand in Sungai Siput.
Samy Vellu lost the seat in 2008 to Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s Dr D Michael Jeyakumar.
One MIC source said Murugesan had an excellent chance of winning the seat because his wife was born in Sungai Siput. However, the source added, the secretary-general was not keen on contesting in Perak.
Another speculation is that former PPP Youth chief T Murugiah, who has since joined MIC, is eyeing the Sungkai state seat.
Ganesan declined to comment on these speculations, saying that only party president G Palanivel, who also heads Perak MIC, knew the names of candidates and where they would be fielded.
Asked to comment on media reports that he would contest for the Hutan Melintang state seat, Ganesan would only say that he had been a frequent visitor to the area because he was born and brought up there.