FMT LETTER: From V Subramaniam @ Barath Maniam, via e-mail
On June 9, 2012, at the Malaysian Associated Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) dinner held at the MINES Convention Centre, the president of the MAICCI, K Ketheeswaran @ Kenneth Eswaran, did a publicity stunt to impress the Prime Minister, Malaysian Indians and to some extent, the general public.
He was quoted as saying, “The people are for the Prime Minister but are against the party and the system which failed them in the past. Unfortunately, many leaders in the party have still not increased their work rate, met the people or resolved their problems”. Honestly, the complexity of this fragmented sentence makes me wonder if he actually planned these words or he just misfired? But, it surely backfired!
After a massive publicity-filled road show around the country, meeting and brainstorming with hundreds of Indian business fraternity, Ketheeswaran organised this much drummed-up event for MAICCI to submit a 10-point plan to Najib Tun Razak in order to address the problems of the Indian business community. The organisers of the MIEC received government funding through G Palanivel’s initiatives, and tremendous cooperation on the ground from MIC leaders and members. This was seen as a much-welcome effort of MIC and BN to engage the Indian community.
At a glance, everyone was excited, proud, happy and grateful to MAICCI, MIC and BN for taking this great effort towards identifying Indian businessmen’s issues and proposing long lasting remedy. If, judged by the ordinary man on the street, this effort can be construed as heroic and seen as championing the Indian cause. Nevertheless, we all know, the Malaysian Indian Economic Conference was mooted not by MAICCI, but by Palanivel, in his capacity as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, tasked with Indian Economic Transformation.
The parties Ketheeswaran is blaming are none other than BN component parties under the leadership of Prime Minister himself! So, for him to allege the faulty system and underperforming political parties under BN (especially MIC) is rather perplexing. Why did he decide to “bite the hand that fed him”?
The performance of BN component parties and/or its leaders is not for Ketheeswaran to judge, but for the BN leadership, and ultimately the rakyat. Ketheeswaran should first concentrate on solving his own problems in MAICCI, an organisation he runs with an iron fist, which is suffering from paralysis due to him suspending key members of chambers not aligned to him.
MAICCI in itself is a mere umbrella organisation. It is the individual chambers that work directly with their members, who are Indian businessmen. Currently several major chambers, representing thousands of Indian businessmen, including many in the Klang Valley are denied representation via MAICCI as their state chambers remain suspended from MAICCI. It is quite obvious here that Ketheeswaran has an axe to grind against the MIC ever since his request to be made the Treasurer General of the MIC was turned down.
If we listen closely to his fragmented statement, it is obvious that his claims are baseless, mischievous and vexatious. He is clearly implying that the MIC leadership is not performing; something we know cannot be completely true. Even though in the past, a few MIC leaders may have been seen as lackadaisical towards the rakyat’s misery and needs, under the leadership of Najib and Palanivel, things have been improving, slowly but surely.
It is undeniable that the Prime Minister is working very hard, and has allocated far more for the Indian community than before, and rightly so. In a show of heightened collaboration, component party leaders, particularly Palanivel, have been doing their part too, working hard on the ground, complementing the work and efforts of the Prime Minister.
A close analysis of Ketheeswaran’s claim that he is doing what component party leaders could not do, is a self-praising boast plucked from thin air. Any layman can smell the self-serving agenda, poorly hidden intention of this opportunist to portray himself as the ‘last surviving winnable candidate’ BN can possibly unearth. It makes one wonder of his credibility and track records in service of the rakyat prior to this event.
In my humble opinion, MIC under Palanivel’s leadership is more transparent and open to engagement. Palanivel understands that the days of government knows best is over, and there is a need for the political parties to engage civil society, commerce chambers, NGOs, etc. in areas concerning their core competency, when forwarding input towards the formulation of government policies. Thus, BN is transforming to become more open to input and feedback from external sources such as MAICCI and other commerce organisations in drafting an economic blue print for the Indian community.
Irrefutably, one can easily see that Ketheeswaran had deliberately hijacked this event, from MIC and shamelessly claims the efforts as his own, to carry out a cheap but cunning publicity act.
Ketheeswaran failed to understand that he, as the president of MAICCI, which is a NGO that is supposed to be representing the Indian business community interest, is similar to the Malaysian Indian Business Association and other business chambers. Championing the needs of MAICCI’s businessmen members and Indian entrepreneurs is the very purpose this initiative was entrusted to him.
In his capacity as the MAICCI president, Ketheeswaran is expected to be intelligent enough to remain in this task scope and deliver the entrusted duty. He could have emerged heroic in championing the Malaysian Indian economic agenda. Nevertheless, his insatiable political aspiration reared its ugly head to expose his true intent.
What puzzles me even more is the fact that amongst the many successful Indian businessmen in Malaysia, Ketheeswaran is one of the few that benefited most from his ‘link’ to certain political parties and direct benefactor of BN policies. There are very few former chauffers who have made it to his position today, in the whole world! Then again, how he acquired his riches is another colourful story altogether. Now, to fulfill his political lust, Ketheeswaran is freely misfiring his poorly contemplated outburst.
Such immature statements made by Ketheswaran, in an indirect way conveys that as the Prime Minister and leader of the Barisan Nasional, Najib has failed to ensure all component parties are working in tandem. Ketheeswaran’s statement is unsubstantiated and has shed a negative picture on the Prime Minister and his component parties. He has insulted the Barisan Nasional, the Prime Minister and all other component parties of BN. My personal advice to Ketheeswaran…stay out of politics.