Last December 1st, in the course of a speech I delivered at a Deepavali function in Johore Baru, I posed this query: “With the next election fast approaching, can we expect former MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu not to attack Pakatan Raykat nor to sing the praises of Prime Minister Najib Razak.”
Apparently, we could not expect him to refrain from Pakatan denunciation or from adulation of Najib.
Yesterday, Samy was widely reported in the Tamil press as having called for full Indian support for Najib in the coming polls. Samy described Najib as the best PM of all the prime ministers of Malaysia, one who is poised to wipe out poverty among Indians for which an appreciative community must extend their full support.
Najib has been PM for over 4 years. He had enough time to address and find solutions to the various problems that beset the Indian community.
As most Malaysians know, Indians have notched up rather unflattering superlatives among all the races. They have lowest life expectancy, the highest student dropout rate, the highest incidences of alcoholism and drug addition, and the highest number of prisoners in proportion to population.
These are issues I have raised consistently in Parliament over the last 13 years. Yet nothing serious has been done to resolve these problems.
Samy Vellu needs to be reminded that there remain unresolved the seven critical issues which he spoke about in February 2008 before the 12th general election.
He said these issues were the cause of widespread discontent in the Indian community. The seven were:-
Inequitable participation in the share market
Low Indian intake into public universities
Dismal employment opportunities, especially in the public sector
Dearth of government scholarships for deserving Indian students
Negligible access to entrepreneurship training and micro-credit loans
Absence of an effective urban poverty eradication scheme, and
The absence of a dedicated mechanism to monitor and evaluate the delivery of public sector services in a just and fair manner
We know that the Indians helped trigger the political tsunami of the 2008 general election that saw BN denied its customary two thirds majority.
My advice to Samy Vellu is therefore to ask Najib what he has done on these seven critical issues instead of attacking Pakatan or heaping praises on Najib.
Samy may have short memory but Indian voters will not forget the seven critical issues which he himself raised.
And Samy should tell Najib that the BN’s slogan of ‘Janji Di Tepati’ will ring hollow in Indian ears so long as the seven issues are not resolved.
In contrast, Pakatan state governments have made some impressive strides in Indian empowerment.
For the first time, the Pakatan government in Penang had an Indian Deputy Chief Minister. For the first time too, an Indian women was appointed as secretary for the state assembly in Penang.
An Indian too was appointed Speaker of the state assembly of Perak.
In the brief 11-month period in which a Pakatan government was in power in Perak, approval was granted for two acres for Tamil schools in Perak and this was emulated by the Kedah Pakatan state government.
There was also in the brief time of Pakatan state power in Perak, a department was formed to assist in the management of non-Muslim affairs and financial allocations were made to temples and churches.
In the five years that Pakatan has been in power in some states on the peninsula, an amount sufficient to warrant the confidence of Indian voters has been done to better the plight of the race.
More will be done, and at an accelerated pace, if Pakatan takes hold of Putrajaya.
In contrast, the BN in 56 years in power has presided over the general impoverishment of the vast majority of the Indian race in Malaysia.
PM Najib has promised to alter the destiny of Indians for the better. It is a promise he did little or nothing to fulfill in four years in power. The legacy of the preceding 52 years of BN neglect of the Indians is a burden he cannot erase in the next four or five years.
Pakatan, in a mere five years, has good work for Indians. There is reason to believe it will do a lot more in the next five years, especially if it takes Putrajaya.
PM Najib has had his time to deliver to Indians but failed to do. Now Samy Vellu asks for Indian backing for an underachieving PM.
I call on Indians to back Pakatan instead. They have done much more in a brief span and warrant trust that they can do more.