PETALING JAYA: Indian support for multiracial PKR and DAP will grow as the MIC is split, while Putrajaya is not doing enough for the marginalised community, two opposition leaders say.
They were also confident their parties could maintain the 65 to 70 per cent level of support among Indian voters in the next general election.
DAP National Vice-Chairman M Kulasegaran said by-election results were a misleading barometer to claim Indian support had returned to the Barisan Nasional (BN).
“A by-election result does not represent the true level of support for the government nationwide,” said Kulasegaran who is also Ipoh Barat MP.
He said this in response to a recent report that although the opposition put up a multiracial and needs-based platform, they went back to their grassroots and served their own community after the last election.
Centre for Strategic Engagement (CENSE) CEO Fui K Seong said Malay-based parties went back to the same template of looking at Malay issues, Malay rights and religion because if not, they could not hold on to their power base.
Fui, who served at a public policy consulting firm, said DAP went back to serving the Chinese while PKR served the urban Malays.
As a result of this, she said the Indian community, especially the younger generation, were going back to MIC because they were unable to find space in the opposition.
“That is the only community where I see the young people coming back to Barisan Nasional,” she said.
Kulasegaran, whose Chinese-dominated party governs Penang, said the opposition could increase their support level as the MIC was split over a leadership crisis.
“Moreover, the BN cannot and will not deliver its promises to the Indians,” he said alluding to Budget 2017 where programmes for the community were only an ad-hoc gift.
PKR political bureau member Sivarasa Rasiah, who doubted the findings of Fui, said a study done previously in Selangor revealed that the support among Indians for the now-defunct opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (DAP, PKR and PAS) had been strong.
“We have taken care of the poor and deserving, including the Indians who make up about 15 per cent of the state’s population,” said Sivarasa, whose party is governing the richest state in Malaysia.
Sivarasa, who is also Subang MP, said over the last two years, the state government had introduced a RM150 million micro-credit programme and assisted 200 Indians in each of the 56 state constituencies.
“Fifty per cent of our RM3 billion annual budget goes to development compared with the allocation from Putrajaya,” he said.
In the last general election, voters had sent more DAP and PKR MPs to the Dewan Rakyat and state assemblies in Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan compared with the MIC.