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Dr M: This time around, I’ll do better for Indians

 | August 18, 2017

The ex-PM says he allocated a lot of resources for the community when he was in power, but they went elsewhere.

mahathir-indianPUTRAJAYA: Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has sought to counter Barisan Nasional’s promises to Malaysian Indians by pledging to do better for the community if Pakatan Harapan comes to power.

Speaking to FMT, he acknowledged complaints that the Indians were poorly served during his 22 years in power, but he said he allocated plenty of resources for them through MIC.

“Somewhere along the line, the allocations went elsewhere,” he said. “But I hope this time around they will get them directly from the government.”

Mahathir, who now leads the Pakatan Harapan opposition pact, was referring to a possible change of government after the 14th general election, which is due next year.

In a previous interview with FMT, he indicated that a Pakatan win in GE14 would be possible only if it received the support of all races.

Pundits have been speculating that the ballots of the Malays, who form the majority of voters, would be split between Pakatan, Barisan Nasional and PAS.

Mahathir said this gave him reason to believe that the minority races would determine the winner.

Many analysts see the Indians as the potential kingmakers, and Mahathir seemed to agree.

Prime Minister Najib Razak appears to be aware of this as well. Last month, he claimed to have received praises for doing more for Tamil language education than a former prime minister “with Indian heritage”, an obvious reference to Mahathir.

Najib also said that developing the Indian community had been an administrative agenda since he became prime minister in 2009. He said he had allocated RM900 million for Tamil vernacular schools.

In his 2017 Malaysian Indian Blueprint unveiled early this year, Najib announced, among other things, an allocation of RM500 million under Permodalan Nasional Berhad specifically for the poorest group within the Indian community.

But Mahathir said: “I don’t think he can deliver because he doesn’t have the money.”

He claimed that the ministries had been told they could spend only 70% of the allocations they were promised in the 2017 budget.

“They won’t get 30% of the allocations because there is no money,” he said. “The money has been wrongly spent on trying to corrupt the people.

“For example, BN promised to give Langkawi RM5 billion, but until now we haven’t received a single sen.”

Statistics provided by the Election Commission showed that 1,362,000 Indians were eligible to vote as of February this year. However, only 985,000 were registered voters. But pundits have said they would play a significant role in at least 58 parliamentary contests.


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