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Can Malaysian Indian voters create a political and electoral tsunami in next general election in 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats where they comprise more than 10 per cent of the voters or at least in 21 parliamentary and 73 state assembly seats where they are more than 15%?

Speech at DAP Forum "ISA arrests of Hindraf 5 – Ops Lalang2 coming?"          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): There is a political awakening akin to a political “uprising” among the Malaysian Indian community, seeking to shake off their long-standing political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization by asserting their political rights as Malaysian citizens. 

Can Malaysian Indian voters create a political and electoral tsunami in the next general election expected next March in 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats where they comprise more than 10 per cent of the electorate, or in 21 parliamentary and 73 state assembly seats where they constitute more than 15% of the electorate? 

I had said in Ipoh yesterday that there are 62 parliamentary seats and 138 state assembly seats where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and that there are 28 parliamentary and 78 state assembly seats where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the voters where they can play the role of “kingmaker” in the electoral outcome. 

These figures are wrong as they  were based on the 2004 general election electoral roll. The latest electoral data gives a different picture as there is a reduction of these constituencies –  i.e. 50 parliamentary and 133 state assembly constituencies where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate and 21 parliamentary and 133 state assembly seats in Peninsular Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute more than 15% of the electorate. 

On Thursday night, the MIC President and sole Indian Cabinet Minister for over 28 years, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu  did the greatest disservice to the Indian community and Malaysian nation when he appeared on RTM1 programme 60 Minit Bersama Menteri as he continued to mislead the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the country in denying deep-seated, widespread and most legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians at their long-standing marginalization as to become the new underclass in the country. 

Let us recognize from the outset that the marginalization and the discontent of the Malaysian Indians is not solely an Indian problem but a Malaysian problem for it represents a Malaysian crisis of identity. 

In denying the marginalization of the Indian community, Samy Vellu had again tried to smother the “cry of desperation” of the 30,000 Indians from all over the country who had gathered peacefully in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 25 in support of the Hindraf demonstration and undo the two-hour special meeting between the Prime Minister and Indian NGOs last Friday.  

Representatives from Malaysian Hindu Sangam, Malaysian Indian Business Association and Malaysian Indian Youth Council have spoken up loud and clear about the long-standing neglect and discrimination suffered by the Malaysian Indians resulting in their marginalization as the new underclass in Malaysia. 

Samy Vellu was present at the dialogue between the Prime Minister and the Indian NGOs although as a silent observer and note-taker.  He must make a very bad note-taker for he is singing a completely different tune from what the Indian NGOs have told the Prime Minister in the dialogue. 

If Samy Vellu still needs convincing about the legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians about their long-standing marginalization, let me just quote from an independent report, which said: 

“Malaysian Indians are increasingly being marginalized, economically as well as socially. More than 30% of Indians do not own a house; over 300,000 Indian poor have been evicted from their plantation livelihoods and residences; and there were 21.1 suicides per 100,000 Indians a year 2005, the highest rate amongst all communities. Indians also have the lowest life expectancy at birth amongst the major races.”

This report came out 18 months ago and was by the Centre for Public Policy Studies of the Asian Leadership and Strategy Institute (ASLI). 

Why is Samy Vellu denying the undeniable when he should be in the vanguard to demand and ensure the end of such unjust and unfair marginalization of Malaysian Indians, who are entitled to a rightful and equal place under the Malaysian sun? 

Samy Vellu should apologise to the Malaysian Indian community and the Malaysian nation for his hour-long RTM1 interview for giving a completely false picture about the long-standing marginalization of the Malaysian Indians. 

The Malaysian Indian community must continue to exert legitimate political pressure on all leaders in the MIC and other Barisan Nasional component parties to end their denial syndrome and own up to the injustices suffered by the Malaysian Indians because of the long-standing marginalization in the Malaysian scheme of things. 

Today, Gerakan Youth vice chief S. Paranjothy has stepped forward to speak the truth.   

Paranjothy criticized Umno leaders for “inciting racial sentiments among their community in a petty attempt to further their political career”, referring specifically to the keris-wielding by Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the chauvinistic approach of the Umno Youth deputy leader Khairy Jamaluddin when he castigated Indian news vendors for going on a holiday during Deepavali, causing the speech of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Umno President to be blacked out during the press holiday. 

In fact, it is Abdullah and UMNO who should be apologizing for holding the Umno general assembly on Deepavali instead of Khairy berating the Indian news vendors for taking their Hindu “Festival of Light” seriously. 

Malaysiakini reported Paranjothy as saying that the 30,000 Indians took part in the Hindraf demonstration to express their “frustration and anger” because the community had been “marginalized, oppressed and ignored”. 

It has taken Paranjothy one month from the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration on Nov. 25 to find his conscience and voice, but it is better late than never. 

When will Samy Vellu and the MIC leaders wake up to the truth and find their conscience and voice? 

As Malaysian citizens, Malaysian Indians have the unquestioned democratic and constitutional right to unite and mobilize support for change and justice to end their long-standing marginalization, in particular in a three-point demand: 

  • Immediate and unconditional release of the Hindraf Five under the Internal Security Act who they should be charged and tried in open court if are guilty of any offences and not put away in detention without trial indefinitely;

  • A Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Kampong Medan riot and the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration, particularly over the police mishandling of the gathering; and

  • A New Deal which should be adopted by the government to end the marginalization of Malaysian Indians and all other marginalized groups in the country, whether Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) in Sabah, the Ibans, Penans and other minorities in Sarawak, the Orang Asli as well as the marginalized Malays and Chinese.



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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