There are many fold problems facing the Indian community and no substantial economic progress percolated to the poorer sections of the community.
By R Kengadharan
Is it true that the fate of Malaysian Indians lies in the hands of Pakatan Rakyat? The most infamous statement ‘you help me I help you’ appears more like a barter trade. Neither the community require a wishlist.
What we require is a comprehensive plan placing the community into mainstream economic development and social progress, acquiring the competitive edge and the ability to face present and future daunting challenges.
Pakatan Rakyat no doubt is working extremely hard in this direction with limited resources. For instance ‘Merakyatkan Ekonomi Selangor’ is a reflection of their sincerity.
Having said that the Indian community in general must stop bickering and must learn to change with the times. We must avoid fragmentation and division at all cost and we as a community must do what is right and no one individual should be excluded in this exercise.
Any shortcomings must be rectified. Pakatan Rakyat can only deliver and meet the needs and expectations of the community satisfactorily if it changes with the times.
Political parties regardless of their political beliefs must stop hoodwinking the Indian community. They must never pursue purported Indian interest merely to gain political mileage and for their personal interest. It is time for the Indians to be focussed and carefully determine what they want and find ways to achieve it.
Malaysian Indians must never greet piecemeal announcements with thunderous applause. It is now ever more necessary for the Indian community to rehabilitate their thinking skills and make carefully well measured political assessments.
They must support any effort undertaken to genuinely defend the welfare of the community and the announcement of another cabinet post has given rise to contrary opinions.
There are many fold problems facing the Indian community and no substantial economic progress percolated to the poorer sections of the community. As a result a greater part of the community continues to remain impoverished and politically marginalised.
MIC failed the Indians
In the last 55 years the MIC has not been successful in protecting and fostering the Indian community at large. Factional struggle and disunity has been the greatest bane.
Fighting for power, politicking and mudslinging has been the order of the day. Disenchanted with the policies and the fate that has befallen the MIC the current younger generation is joining opposition parties like the DAP, PKR and PAS.
Fifty-five years were nothing but wasted years with the MIC. This is very tragic. There has been no significant community progress and upliftment during this period which resulted in colossal failures.
There is no doubt we are at the crossroads today, disenchanted and frustrated. There is now an urgent need to implement an affirmative action plan so as to salvage seriously the ailing Indian community.
Any such implementation of such affirmative plans must be vigorous. We no longer desire to be a disadvantaged community in Malaysia. We no longer want sympathy.
In this context let us remind ourselves what Dr Ambedkar the architect of the Indian constitution says ‘if a mother has 4 children, and 1 among them is handicapped, the handicapped child should be given greater care and attention’.
Note perfect equality in societies, where there are handicaps, will only perpetuate inequality.
In the last 55 years very strange public policies and political ideologies served to regulate and politicise identities in Malaysia. These deplorable policies and political ideologies must crumble and fall and Pakatan Rakyat must be responsible for it.
Pakatan must take the lead
Malaysian Indians are no longer in favour of ethnic based affirmative action initiatives. We must never forget the present overt and covert forms of racial and religious politics have occurred purely at the expense of the minority communities which have undermined national cohesion.
To this date ethnic interactions has remained largely superficial. We therefore invite Pakatan Rakyat to demonstrate and avoid the politicization of religion and essentialism of ethnicity and genuinely encourage community interaction with one another as social equals.
There is an urgent need to forge a stronger national identity that transcends ethnicity and religion. In this context we urge Pakatan Rakyat to announce affirmative action initiatives that would be more inclusive by targeting other minorities like the Indian community.
There is a need to divorce from communal style politics which will certainly post a major challenge and such a radical restructuring of those public policies would no doubt require a major overhaul in thinking.
Finally, the test of whether a society is truly democratic and equitable is the way in which minorities and other vulnerable members in the communities are treated.
R Kengadharan is an ex-ISA detainee, practising lawyer and a senior advisor to the Malaysian Indian Voice.