The Indian business association wants a debate on Indian issues but the political parties say it would be an exercise in futility.
The Malaysian Indian Business Association president P Sivakumar said there was a real need for debates on Indian issues.
He was referring to yesterday’s MCA-DAP debate, and he wants a debate between Pakatan Rakyat and MIC.
“Such debates will also allow other communities to understand the issues affecting the Indian community,” he said.
He added that such debates would allow Malaysian politics to mature as it would allow healthy exchange of ideas on both sides of the divide.
“As for MIC, they can use the platform to tell the public on programmes mooted by the government for the community and see whether it’s really benefiting the community or otherwise,” he said.
When asked if the Indian community should focus more on national issues such as corruption and abuse of power, Sivakumar dismissed it by saying the community’s issues run at a very basic level.
“Unlike the Chinese who are stronger economically and well-educated, Indians are struggling to even have basic housing. We need to address our socio-economic problems first before going into national issues,” said Sivakumar.
He said that he would love to see MIC president G Palanivel and Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy square off on a live debate.
“We can also have MIC secretary-general S Murugesan and Klang MP Charles Santiago on debate as both have vast knowledge on many economic issues,” said Sivakumar.
MIC: Pointless to debate
When contacted, Murugesan said it was pointless for MIC to engage Indian leaders from Pakatan at the moment.
He also said that while Pakatan may have Indian leaders in its component parties, he claimed that the leaders lacked any political clout within their parties to moot any policies for the Indian community.
“We are surprised that while some in Pakatan have called us to steer away from race-based politics, we are pulled into the same thing by pitching one leader against another purely based on his race,” he said.
In a joint statement, PKR vice president N Surendran also rejected calls for a debate with MIC leaders saying race based debates were an unhealthy reflection of the BN’s ‘divide and rule’ politics.
Pakatan: MIC is powerless
He also said that the problems faced by the Indian community were a national issue and debates on the matter must involve all relevant authorities.
“Besides, MIC is powerless and incapable of bringing positive change and development to the Indian community. Any debate with MIC leaders on the future of the Indian community is an exercise in futility,” he said.
The statement was also signed by Subang MP R Sivarasa, Kapar MP S Manickavasagam and Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran
In response, Surendran challenged any Umno ministers to come forward and hold a debate with Pakatan leaders on issues affecting the Indian community.
“This would allow all Malaysians an opportunity to evaluate both parties’ plans and commitment to resolve the problems of the Indian community.
“In view of the urgency and importance of the matter, we call for a response from Umno to our invitation for a public debate within the next 48 hours,” he said.