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Indian votes may tip the balance

 | June 16, 2012

The time has come for the Indians to wake up to the fact that the representation under Pakatan is much better than under BN.

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With the battle for votes about to go into full swing now, it looks like the Indian votes will be the deciding factor in Peninsular Malaysia as both the Malays and the Chinese seem to have made up their minds.

This being the case, it is best for Pakatan Rakyat to name an Indian candidate to contest one of the seats in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

DAP should take the lead in this matter and name lawyer M Manogaran, the current MP for Teluk Intan, Perak, to contest in Seputeh which is currently held by Teresa Kok, who also holds the state seat of Kinrara and is a senior member of the Selangor state executive council.

In line with DAP stalwart and chairman, Karpal Singh’s exhortation of “one person one seat” with the exception of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, it is best that DAP’s Iron Lady focus only on her state seat.

Alternatively, another current Kuala Lumpur DAP MP could be moved to Seputeh and Manogaran takes over the contest for the former’s seat.

Among the three Pakatan component parties, DAP has the most number of Indians as lawmakers. In fact, the Indian representation under Pakatan is greater than under MIC.

It was DAP which chose V Sivakumar, the Tronoh state assemblyman, as the Perak State Legislative Assembly Speaker.

When Barisan Nasional grabbed power undemocratically in Perak, it was forced to name R Ganesan as Speaker. This was done in order to follow DAP’s precedent of allocating the seat to an Indian and thus the Indian representation was maintained so as not to cause anger among the Indians.

Fairer representation

Talks are ongoing for an Indian DAP MP to contest in Kuala Lumpur and this will truly enable the Indians to obtain a fairer representation in line with Pakatan’s policy of giving fair representation to all races.

Indian issues are a contentious point as the Indians have been sidelined for as long as anyone can remember.

The Pakatan state governments are trying to assist them in various ways such as awarding to them contracts under open tender, whereby Indians who possess the expertise have made a successful bid, for example, the grasscutting project in Selayang.

Inevitably, it takes time to assist as many Indians as possible and Pakatan has been the Selangor state government for only a little more than four years compared to BN, which has been helming the state for 51 years from 1957 to Mrach 2008.

Under Pakatan, more Indian voices are heard in Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies and things can only get better for the Indians if Pakatan were to win the polls at the federal level.

The time has come for the Indians to wake up to the fact that the representation under Pakatan is much better than under BN.

In Penang, too, the Kampung Buah Pala issue was in the end resolved amicably when the residents of Kampung Buah Pala were given good homes (costing more than RM500,000) by the developer.

A thorny issue or rather two sticky issues for the Indians are schools and citizenship.

DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M Kulasegaran, and his colleague, Chong Eng, the DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, are both well-known advocates of the schools issue and have been consistently bringing up this matter in Parliament by urging the BN federal government to build more Tamil schools.

As for the citizenship issue, only now it has received great media attention and action from the powers-that-be.

It is only close to a general election that the “identity card-for-Indians” issue always comes up while at other times this issue is lost in space.

Indian voice drowned out

Under the BN leadership when BN had the two-thirds majority in Parliament, Indian voices were on most occasions drowned out.

It was only after the Hindraf protest on Nov 25, 2007, that BN leaders woke up to the grouses of the Indians. But even till today with BN still helming the federal government, the plight of the Indians has not improved much.

In May 2009, this columnist was walking home when two Indians on a motorbike threatened her with a parang to surrender her handbag.

“One has to understand that the high number of Indians resorting to crime compared to the ratio of their population is because many Indians are jobless,” Kulasegaran said to this columnist.

This is indeed very sad statistics and it shows that Indians have been sidelined for a long time and that many of them who have low education must be jobless.

No one would simply risk committing a crime and getting into jail unless they are desperate and have nowhere to turn to.

Many factories which could have employed low-skilled Indians are now employing foreign workers. Whose fault is this? One should not only blame the employer but also the government for not curbing the intake of low-skilled foreign labour whose jobs can in fact be done by our Malaysian citizens.

Crime is due to joblessness and joblessness is due to something wrong in the system. In fact, many of our local citizens from all races who are of low education are now resorting to crime.

Back to the Indians, they must remember the treatment meted out to S Ambiga (Bersih co-chairperson) after the Bersih event on April 28 before putting in their all-important vote at the ballot box.

The Indians must vote wisely in this coming 13th general election. Will the Indians vote for something much better to improve their future opportunities and those of their children and their children’s children?

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.


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