While the failure of Barisan Nasional to uplift the Indian community is acknowledged by Barisan itself, by way of MIC’s accusation of Dr Mahathir’s neglect of the Indians during his 22 year tenure, this failure is ironically underscored by Mahathir himself who blames, in turn, his the former ally and MIC leader Samy Vellu for this situation. In terms of my ongoing concern the plight of stateless Indians, it is indeed, clear that in the post-independence years, there has been no proactive attempt to embrace and incorporate these most underprivileged constituents of the Malayan legacy into the Malaysian polity. This is undeniably an abysmal failure, in humanitarian terms, of Barisan governance.
Still it must be acknowledged, while the stake of Indians within Barisan is severely weakened since the heady days of Samy Vellu, it is still defined and perceivable. I do not, however, see the equivalent Indian leverage within Harapan. This lack has been viscerally, if casually, revealed in the dismissive remarks of the coalition’s chairman and Prime Ministerial candidate in what I shall call the ‘Keling Gate’ debacle. But, returning once again to the issue at hand, how does Harapan stand on the all-important question of Indian statelessness? On the face of it, they seem to be doing well. They have diligently called the government out their ineffective and/or disingenuous efforts to solve the problem with programmes like MyDaftar. Members of the Harapan opposition have claimed that there are around 300,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia. A shockingly large number indeed.
It must however, be noted that the Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia, a voluntary non-profit and non-political organization, has stated categorically that their research has revealed only 12,392 stateless Indians as of June 2017. Their president Saravanan M Sinapan has further noted that 2,225 of these have already been granted citizenship, leaving just over 10,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia today. If DHRRA is correct Pakatan Harapan’s promises to the Indian community in the GE-14 Manifesto ring hollow and untrue. These promises to Malaysian Indians include, as first on the list, the following, “1. Menyelesaikan masalah komuniti India yang tidak mempunyai status kewarganegaraan (stateless Indians) dalam tempoh 100 hari pentadbiran kami“. Indeed, given their apparent ethno-electoral hyperbole of 300,000 stateless Indians, even if Harapan scoops every stateless Indian up in the 100 days, they will, by the logic of numbers, surely fall short of their own alleged target of 300,000.
So if DHRRA is correct, Pakatan Harapan has failed on a key election promise to the Indian community even before polling day! Even if we forgive them their numbers, and even if they institute some ameliorative policy quickly, this is not a 100 day problem. People who have been living for generations in the shadow of the nation are not going to be easily found and rehabilitated. Given this, and the recent evidence of Harapan’s attitude in ‘Keling Gate’, the coalition had better pull its finger out in terms of winning over the Indian community – if they want the best from the upcoming elections. Or … am I just not getting it …. could the masterful ‘old man’ of Malaysian politics be knowingly spinning his perfectly pitched racial attitude in the direction of the much needed Malay heartland, fully cognizant of the fact that Indians just do not figure in the Harapan calculation for GE-14!
Image: https://twitter.com/encikail/status/709235617498996736 (edited)