Friday, March 7, 2008

Malaysian Indians to desert govt in polls

Malaysian Indians to desert govt in polls§ion=theworld

(AFP), 7 March 2008

BATANG BERJUNTAI, Malaysia - Malaysia's ethnic Indians are expected to end 50 years of allegiance to the ruling coalition in Saturday polls as allegations of neglect and discrimination reach a crescendo.

Herding his cows along the roads of this rural outpost, 73-year-old R. Ceniyah seems an unlikely candidate for a political awakening, but he is one of many in the disadvantaged community who say they have had enough.

"I am angry with this government. This year I will vote for the opposition for the first time," he told AFP, still wearing the T-shirt emblazoned with the emblem of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition he was given years ago.

"My village floods when it rains heavily. Nothing is done to address it," he said in this sleepy district southwest of the capital Kuala Lumpur, where many Indians work in the palm oil plantations and in nearby factories.

"Promises are not carried out. I applied for a land grant for the past three decades without any results. But the ethnic Malays apply and they get it within five years."

Barisan Nasional, dominated by the Muslim Malays who make up some 60 percent of the multicultural nation's population, is assured of another victory in Saturday's elections but its majority is expected to be clipped.

In 2004 it won 90 percent of parliamentary seats, but this year voters are angry over inflation, rising crime and racial tensions that are seething among its minority Indian and Chinese citizens.

Ethnic Indian activists last year mounted unprecedented public protests claiming discrimination against the community, saying it is denied opportunities in education and employment.

Anger has been targeted at the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a coalition member which has been criticised for failing to advance the cause of its constituents.

Batang Berjuntai was once an MIC stronghold, but many here say they will now vote for opposition parties including former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan or even the Islamic party PAS.

They are particularly incensed over the demolition of hundreds of Hindu temples in Malaysia in recent years, steamrollered to make way for development projects.

Analysts said Saturday's ballot will see a shift among Indian voters who have never before been a factor in elections.

"I feel there will be some erosion of support in favour of the opposition," said political observer Chandra Muzaffar from University Sains Malaysia.

"It is quite possible some candidates of the Malaysian Indian Congress may lose. The party president S. Samy Vellu's own position may be vulnerable," he said.

Samy Vellu, Malaysia's only ethnic Indian minister, has led the MIC for some three decades, but in recent months has been heckled and abused at public events and faced mounting calls to quit.

While Indians make up only about eight percent of Malaysia's 10.9 million voters, political observers say they could affect the outcome in dozens of tightly fought parliamentary constituencies.

Malaysia's ethnic Indians are the descendents of labourers brought by the former British colonial rulers from southern India in the 19th century, mainly to work in the rubber estates.

K. Arumugam from rights group Voice of the Malaysian People said that even now, 40 percent remain labourers lacking skills, capital and education, typically earning less than 600 ringgit (186 dollars) a month.

In Batang Berjuntai, oil palm factory worker T. Vijayan, 44, said he joined the MIC four years ago thinking it would solve his problems. But the majority of the 100 workers on his estate now want to shift to the opposition.

"We were promised clean water by the MIC if it won, but months have passed. Look, the water still stinks," he said.

Chandra said that while the Indian community is unhappy, it is difficult to predict whether it will translate into votes or seats for the opposition.

"The Indians are dependent on the state, unlike the Chinese. Even if they are unhappy it is questionable whether they will want to abdicate their own wellbeing by being not represented in the government," he said.

1 comment:

DIASPORA said...

"There is a tide in the affairs of men
When taken at the flood ....."

So said Shakespeare.

The flood of the BR is only too evident through whatever news that we can manage to garner through sources available to the common folk.

The Newspapers; the TV and other Advertisements go to such gory extent to extoll the virtues of BN and its candidates ( all bull shit of course ) that it has become nauseating to read the papers because of the vulgarity in praises and spin writing that the wordings border on.

The Editors remind one of those who practise the oldest profession in the world.

The Editors and TV Masters seem to assume that the Malaysian public are naive and are a set of fools who can be twisted and turned to allow the Elite to contine ripping and looting the country and its wealth for ever more.

Cronies of all shape and sizes are well looked after and so they sing such high praises of BN and all the good that it has done and is 'going' to do that even the bards of the old World would lose to them for the manner in which they conjour up their stories.

Now we have the sons; daughters, nephews; uncles, aunts; maybe even grandfathers and grandmothers of the old erstwhile MPs standing for election as if though it is their feeling that none but only they are here to save Malaysia and its people and that there is no one else to care for us or that we are unable to look after ourselves.

It is heartening to read or hear about the ceramahs that are drawing thousands for the BR group.

All Malaysians must be hoping that the same spirit will prevail on the day of reckoning for both BN and BR.

The abuse and misuse of Government planes, vehicles, TV, Newspapers; facilities, etc by the BN is such a lowdown act that it tends to make one wonder how much extra they have looted without our knowledge in their pursuit of ill gotten wealth and assumed illusive power.

GOD in all his mercy had at least given us the SMS and the Video phones and the Internet to let us know how both BN and BR are faring in the ceramahs. The Police in their slimy way of course grant permits for the BN but make it such a difficult task for BR to get permits for their ceramahs. The people are fully aware of it. All that the people can say is that in addition to a corrupted force we have a force that licks the ... of the BN looters.