Indian issues are national issues, rights lawyers tell Putrajaya

An elderly lady waits to receive Deepavali aid from a Hindu association in Penang in October last year. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today said the socio-economic woes of the Indian community should be dealt with by the Cabinet, and not given to the ruling coalition’s Indian leaders to resolve.

In a statement, its executive director Latheefa Koya said now was the best time to break the racial mould in dealing with the problems of the people.

Latheefa said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should not revert to the Barisan Nasional (BN) method of leaving it to the ruling coalition’s Indian leaders and elected representatives to form caucuses or groups to hold press conferences and petition the government for changes to be implemented.

“Why again are the Indian leaders left to take up Indian issues, which should be the concern of all government leaders and elected reps, irrespective of race?”

Latheefa was commenting on the decision by PH Indian elected representatives yesterday to retain Sedic – a unit set up by the BN government to help the socio-economic development of the Indian community – but to revamp it and make it more effective and accountable.

Klang MP Charles Santiago, speaking on behalf of the MPs after their meeting, said: “What we have confirmed today is that Sedic will remain a government institution but it needs to be revamped.”

PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Dr Xavier Jayakumar, who was also present, added that PH was working towards helping stateless Indians get their identity cards.

“We have a target of 100 days to solve stateless issues that the Indians have been facing for over five decades. This is part of our manifesto for our voters,” he said.

However, Latheefa called this “clinging on to a vehicle created by BN that has proven to be ineffective and disastrous”.

“Re-branding and auditing Sedic, as suggested by the Indian reps, is simply not enough.

“This entire approach to resolving the problems of the Indian minority has failed and is discredited.”

She said the most notorious example of such failure was the MyDaftar programme run by Sedic to resolve Indian statelessness, which had been repeatedly praised by former prime minister Najib Razak and MIC leaders “for political reasons”.

“In the same breath as announcing the maintenance of Sedic, the Indian reps talk about resolving statelessness. This is worrisome.

“What is the role of this re-branded Sedic in tackling statelessness?” she asked, adding that it was the duty of the home ministry to resolve statelessness.

Indian PH reps want Sedic audited