By P Ramasamy
The President of MIC, Dr S Subramaniam has announced that the government is to embark on the “Mega MyDaftar” campaign to register and seek approval for thousands of Indians in the country without identification documents.
A Special Indian Task Force (SITF) is to be set up to undertake this exercise in various identified locations in the country. Beyond the registration of those seeking identification documents, the SITF is entrusted to assist Indians in procuring jobs, housing loans and as well as places for education besides dealing with health related matters.
In a previous exercise a few years back, Dr Subramaniam said the MIC registered 12,000 Indians, out of which 7,000 obtained identification documents whereas 4,000 are still awaiting their applications to be processed.
Dr Subramaniam took a swipe at the opposition for exaggerating the number of stateless Indians in the country at around 300,000. He said this was not true as the MIC had the correct figures.
While I welcome the renewed attempt on the part of the MIC and other agencies to assist the Indian poor in obtaining identification documents, several questions must be answered, as this will help the public understand the efforts of the MIC better.
FIRST, since Mega MyDaftar is the second attempt on the part of the MIC to register stateless Indians, the public would like to know the exact number of Indians in the country who are without proper identification documents.
Since Dr Subramaniam is saying that the opposition’s figure of 300,000 is an exaggeration, then it is up to him to furnish the correct figures before the Mega MyDaftar exercise is launched next month. Surely, without a rough figure as to the number of stateless Indians, it would be difficult for the SITF to have an idea as to how they can cover the target group.
SECOND, the Indian public would like to know why the earlier MyDaftar campaign, started ambitiously a few years back, was abandoned suddenly.
Even if the MIC successfully registered 12,000 applicants, a minuscule number considering the extent of the problem, how come 4,000 applications have yet to be processed? Perhaps the MIC would want to furnish some specifics to the public as to the extent of success of the earlier MyDaftar campaign and why it was aborted without even really taking off.
THIRD, there is no question that the Mega MyDaftar campaign is part and parcel of the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak a few weeks ago. However, the Indian public is puzzled by the timing of the launch – it is no coincidence considering the 14th general election is around the corner.
So, the timing of these announcements provides credence to the argument that both the Barisan Nasional and the MIC is not really serious about addressing the problems of Indians in the country. The Mega MyDaftar campaign is yet another election gimmick; a programme that will be discontinued after election fever subsides.
FOURTH, the Mega MyDaftar campaign that will begin on June 3 will last for slightly more than three weeks. One wonders whether the MIC can address the core issue of stateless Indians within such a short period of time, assuming that they have all the necessary information and data at their disposal.
FIFTH, while I welcome the efforts on the part of the MIC to address this thorny issue of stateless Indians, I detect the party might not be very serious in addressing this issue. As the election is around the corner, jockeying for posts in the party and the government, infighting between the two factions in the party as well as the continued erosion of support from Indians might render the Mega MyDaftar project a non-starter from the outset.
SIXTH, even if the opposition’s figure of 300,000 stateless Indians cannot be accepted, can the MIC provide a more accurate picture of what exactly this number should be?
Registration is one thing, but the MIC must also ensure that it has continued dialogue with top Umno leaders in order for the latter to relax the conditions for Indians to obtain the necessary identification documents.
There is no point in blindly registering Indians when there is no political will on the part of the government to ensure justice and fairness to Indians, especially those who were born and bred in Malaysia but sadly denied their status as citizens of this country.
SEVENTH, sorry to say, the MIC must go beyond rhetoric, and ensure the issue of stateless Indians is resolved once and for all, if the party hopes to win seats in the coming general election. The matter should not be used to obtain brownie points for the party and its leaders.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II Penang.
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