KUALA LUMPUR: A DAP lawmaker says the “transformation” mentioned by MIC president Dr S Subramaniam in his New Year message is the same promise year-in, year-out but with nothing to show at the end of each year.
Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran ridiculed Subramaniam feeling good about the new programme launched last year to help the Indian community.
“I wish that Subramaniam’s exuberance over the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB), through his New Year message, was also felt by the Indian community in the country.
“When an MoU was signed on April 18, 2013 with Hindraf for the upliftment of Indians, it captivated a lot of Indian hearts and minds.
“It was supposed to generate a wholesome deal for the community, but what happened?
“For five years it had been kept under the carpet and was hibernating, and the government did not do anything.
“At that time, it was already an acid test for the government. But they misled the people and did not keep to their promises.
“I do not think it will now blossom to anything great for the Indian community either,” he said when contacted by FMT.
The MoU was signed by Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and witnessed by prime minister Najib Razak.
Kulasegaran said MIC had rejected chances to uplift the Indian community by denying the proposal for a trust fund to be set up for the community.
“I just want to go back to 1999 when the South Indian Labour Fund (SILF) was being wound up by the government.
“At that time, I objected to its winding-up as there were millions of ringgit and land in the fund.
“I had suggested to the government then to set up a trust fund for the community to propel them to higher economic growth as they had been left out from the mainstream of the government.
“It was objected to and dismissed by none other than MIC itself. They did not support my motion when I put it to Parliament. Now, after 17 years, they are coming back with something similar to what I proposed in 1999.
“Doesn’t this warrant the question: have you been in slumber for 17 years and only now realise what we have said was right?
“Are you going to apologise to the Indian community or is all this just nothing but a gimmick to win votes in the coming election?
“We know that every single vote can make or break the government,” Kulasegaran said.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said the Barisan Nasional government’s policies are to be blamed for the miserable state of Indians in the B40 group.
B40 refers to the bottom 40% of households, having a monthly income of RM3,900 and below.
“The transformation that Subramaniam is talking about is long overdue. The economic policies of the government were designed to keep Indians the way they are today.
“The government cannot say they didn’t know about it. Neither can Subramaniam be ignorant of the fact that this is a direct product of the BN government’s failure in its economic and social policies to address Indian poverty and B40 issues, he said.
Calling it an annual mantra by MIC over the decades, Santiago said the message has simply been passed from Samy Vellu to Subramaniam.
“I’m sure if MIC is around after the next general election, we will still hear about it,” he told FMT.
School dropouts, unemployed and single mothers
When talking about issues specific to the Indian community, Santiago said that certain issues were not addressed by the MIB.
“There are a large number of school dropouts among Indians, many of them are unemployable because they lack social skills, and a large number of single mothers living in poverty.
“These single mothers come to my office every Thursday and I meet them all the time. This is a major problem with single parents looking after three to four children. They cannot make ends meet.
“The issue of the high number of Indian single mothers and those of the poor elderly are not addressed in the MIB.
“These issues are the outcome of an economic and social system that marginalises people and you are looking at a huge problem here.”
He said the government should be talking about results and not the transformation.
“This entire transformation talk has been going on for years and the numbers keep getting worse.
“So, instead of talking about the transformation, the government needs to be concerned about results and that comes with implementation.
“In this regard, the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community (Sedic) body should be made accountable.
“They are the people implementing the MIB. They have been given RM60 million to help develop a variety of programmes.
“This special division under the PM’s Department has been around for five years. It should be made publicly accountable on how effectively their money is being spent.
“They should give us the figures. How many people it has trained have become businessmen?
“How many have the skills or jobs as a result of what Sedic has done? That is when you can do some accounting on their effectiveness.”
Santiago admitted however, that the implementation of Sedic was an effort by the government to address the issues at hand.
“They have 38 people working in an office. We must acknowledge that the government is doing something there.”