Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will Indians vote for change in Malaysia?

Will Indians vote for change?

Thursday February 14, 2008


Malaysians are not the only ones interested in our general election.

The next one – our 12th to date since Merdeka in 1957 – is likely to occur very soon.
Last week, Radio Australia (RA) predicted that there would be a very poor show of support at the polls for Barisan Nasional (BN) this time around from the Indian community, which, the international broadcaster pointed out, has stood by the ruling party for half a century.

The Melbourne-based radio station based this assertion on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s recent remarks to The Star. He had admitted that the BN can expect to have less support from ethnic Indian voters in the next election.

RA’s Asia-Pacific programme presenter Nasya Bahfen interviewed Manogar Marimuthu, president of the Malaysian Tamil Education Research & Development Foundation, on the issue.

Manogar told RA that the Indian community had long complained about a lack of jobs and educational opportunities. “The protest rallies by Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) only drew more attention to the situation,” he added.

Manogar said that the sizes of the rallies, which took the Government by surprise, were prompted by the destruction of Hindu temples.

Sheer devotion: A group of devotees carrying paal kudam (milk filled container) during the Thaipusam celebrations.
He went on to say that whilst he sympathised with the MIC because it was only a “small minority” within the ruling coalition, he thought that the party would “suffer serious setbacks” in the coming polls.

RA, on its part, told its worldwide audiences that Abdullah has promised to address the destruction of Hindu temples and other grievances ahead of the election.

“The general election is expected to be called as early as next month, although it doesn’t need to be held until 2009,” the broadcaster concluded.

Meanwhile, Thaipusam on Jan 23 saw some tasty on-air treats on local radio.

RTM’s Tamil-language broadcaster MinnalFM provided interesting coverage on how the event was being observed in various states in the country. One of the crossovers I heard was to Malacca. It was done clearly and glitch-free.

TraxxFM’s Wake Up show talked about the incredible feats performed by kavadi bearers at Batu Caves. The deejays gave out information about the special diet and strict discipline the faithful have to endure to fulfil their vows.

Finally, Bernama News Agency’s Radio24 once again performed with flying colours. Besides its regular updates on how Thaipusam was being observed in the country, a note of appreciation should go out to the broadcaster for its special festive greeting promo by its staff for the occasion.

It seemed to have been done rather spontaneously, with everyone (in the studio) wishing everyone (on the air) a joyous Thaipusam. One could even hear an Indian classical music instrument being played in the background in the audio clip.

A simple act like that – and the trouble taken to do it – was enough to immerse us all in the festive mood immediately.

Despite living in the cyber age, the writer insists that radio still provides a unique window on the world. When he isn't scanning bandwidths, he helps to raise awareness of positive living with pets through his organisation, Petpositive (Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association).

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