Samy Vellu’s “new Malaysian Indian” did not last more than 24 hours when he had to admit that the Indians had not shed the “labourer” image

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s “new Malaysian Indian” did not last more than 24 hours.

At the opening of the 57th MIC general assembly on Saturday, Samy Vellu spoke of the image of the  “new Malaysian Indian” – self-sustaining, wealth-generating, self-confident to compete in the open market and with a self-esteem to mould their own character and way of life -  transforming their image as labourers and lowly paid workers without tertiary education to one which is an embodiment of high self-worth and success. 

However, 24 hours later, at the  end of the MIC general assembly yesterday, Samy Vellu had to admit that the Indians in the country had not shed their “labourers” image, which he said can only be changed by placing more emphasis on education. 

The sense of self-worth and self-esteem of the “new Malaysian Indian” was no where to be seen during the MIC general assembly when a delegate could be stopped in his speech for his criticisms against many delegates for not speaking in Tamil when debating on Tamil schools and Tamil language issues. 

What is most shocking about the MIC general assembly however was its total lack of self-worth and self-esteem when it could pass a resolution to congratulate the Human Resources Ministry for the measly RM350 minimum monthly salary for rubber estate workers, which  is less than 30 per cent of the official poverty line of RM1,200 a month per household as defined in the Third Outline Perspective Plan 2001-2010.

There can be no doubt that if all the MIC delegates had been allowed a free vote, there would be over 90 per cent rejection of  the RM350 minimum monthly wage for rubber estate workers as it is  a miserable excuse of a salary,  insufficient for one person, let alone an entire family.

Where is the self-worth and self-esteem when in such circumstances, the MIC general assembly not only did not have the courage of conviction to speak up against the pathetic minimum monthly wage, but had to pass an unanimous resolution to congratulate the Human Resources Ministry for its success in securing such a disgraceful  settlement for the rubber estate workers? 

It was only less than a year ago that at the conference, themed “The Malaysian Indian in the New Millennium – Rebuilding Community”, the organizing committee chairman Professor Datuk Dr. C.P. Ramachandran in his keynote address listed the “negatives” of the Indian community, viz:

  • The second highest infant mortality rates.
  • The lowest life expectancy rates- 67.3 years compared to national average of 71.2.
  • The highest school drop out rates best seen in the data that only 5.0 percent of Indians reach the tertiary level compared to the national average of 7.5 percent.
  • The highest incidence of alcoholism, that cuts across all classes.
  • The highest incidence of drug addiction in proportion to population.
  • The highest number of prisoners in proportion to population.
  • The largest number of gangs is now Indian gang and 60 percent of serious crimes are committed by Indians.

Nothing has changed to alter the depressing negative picture of the Indian community.  MIC claims that it had been the sole representative of the Indians in government since Independence, and if so, then MIC must bear the fullest responsibility for the depressing negative statistics about the Indian community, which must be eliminated before there could be any “new Malaysian Indian”. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman