Indian youths find no hope in politics, says Waytha


PETALING JAYA: Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy has faulted the lack of Indian representatives in politics as a key reason Indian youths are not interested in politics.

This comes following the results of a public opinion survey on the low number of young voters in Peninsular Malaysia.

The survey, titled “Public Opinion Survey: Youth Perception on the Economy, Leadership and Current Issues”, showed that Indians were the least interested in politics, with 75% of the 604 surveyed saying they were not interested, followed by the Malays (71%) and Chinese (62%).

The survey, a joint project between Watan, a youth voter registration NGO, and Merdeka Center, was carried out between Aug 3 and 8 this year.

Waythamoorthy said the reason for this large number of disinterested Indians was because a large portion of the Indian community felt that no party would truly address the issues that the community was facing.

“They have no representative in politics. The Indian representative in Barisan Nasional (BN) is MIC and they know MIC is useless.

“Meanwhile, the opposition bloc is made up of parties which cater to the guidelines of being a multiracial party,” Waythamoorthy told FMT.

He said that he was not criticising the Indian leaders in Pakatan Harapan but said that the fact that these Indian leaders had to adhere to the guidelines that come with a multiracial party had led to a loss of hope among Indian youths.

“In PKR, though the majority of its membership is Malay, the PKR set up is multiracial so the Indian leaders have to be careful about what they say about issues affecting Indians.

“Similarly, in DAP, although the majority of its membership is Chinese, it is again a multiracial party and so, most of the Indian leaders have to follow the party guidelines to portray that multiracial setup.

“So the Indian youths, seeing this, feel they don’t have representation in BN or Pakatan.”

Waythamoorthy, who was a deputy minister in the prime minister’s department from May 2013 to February 2014, said the situation had been different immediately after the Hindraf rally in 2007 where Indians had come by the droves to support the opposition, including PAS.

“Now, the youths feel that while there are Indian leaders in the opposition bloc, there is no true Indian representation.”

He claimed that another reason could be that at least in Peninsular Malaysia, the Indians feel they are the most marginalised community.

Survey on Indian youths

FMT contacted several Indian youths to get their personal views on why politics did not interest them.

“Why bother to voice our concerns, it makes no difference,” 28-year-old Kavitha Ratnam told FMT.

The young accountant said despite being interested in politics herself and feeling that it is important for everyone to engage in it, she understands why 75% of Indian youths are not interested.

Manoj Thambirajah shares the same disinterest as the Indian youths in the survey, as he feels that almost all politicians are corrupted one way or the other.

“Corruption is rampant in Malaysia, especially among politicians,” said the student.

He added youths have no say and the “old school” voting system just does not interest him.

Ram Kumar, however, said that it is important to be concerned with political issues as the country’s politics directly affects his livelihood through the policies that come with it.

“I’m very concerned with the future direction of the country and the policies that the politicians propose and follow through,” said the 26-year-old engineer.

He said that his Indian friends have also given up on the concept of democracy in Malaysia.

“They think their opinion doesn’t matter or will bring about any change. So, they have just given up and moved on,” said Ram.

Revathee Balakrishnan said that as someone who has tried to voice her dissatisfaction before, she is frustrated and does not see the point in it anymore as young adults don’t seem to have any freedom of speech.

“We know what is going on politically and want to make a change but we are scared to speak up.

“Hence, we have become silent observers. It is not that we aren’t interested in Malaysian politics,” she said.

Meanwhile, a respondent who chose to remain anonymous expressed that he will not be exercising his right to vote in the next general election (GE14), as he does not see the point.

“Unfortunately, the last general election (GE13) showed that the number of votes for the opposition did not matter in the final result.

“I also perceive the EC to be biased. Until some fundamental processes are fixed, I will not exercise my right to vote as it’s a waste of my precious time,” he said.