Opportunity for BN in Bkt Selambau

By Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (The Nut Graph)

BN through default might make tremendous gains from the confusion caused by some of the Indian Malaysian leaders within the opposition, who have openly defied the opposition leader's choice of the PKR candidate in Bukit Selambau.

THE Hindraf movement captured the imagination of not only the Indian Malaysian community but all communities in Malaysia in their ability to mobilise mass protests against the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led government. This was reflected by a major swing against the BN and the MIC during the 12th general elections.

At the heart of the matter was the movement's claim of the socio-economic neglect of the Tamil/Hindu community in Malaysia.

Some of the data provided by the movement's leaders might be questionable, their methods unorthodox and their analysis offensive to a section of the Malay Malaysian elite within the ruling party. But their core concerns and grievances are real. And this perception of grievances is shared by a majority of Indian Malaysians as reflected in the voting patterns during the 12th general election.

According to critics, discontentment and disillusionment remains at a high level against the BN and the MIC leadership.

Hope in the opposition 

A large section of the Indian Malaysian community feels that alternative leaders from opposition political parties such as the DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) can better represent their interest in an alternative multi-racial coalition.

While the MIC and the BN government has announced many special measures for Tamil school rebuilding, micro credit loans, business and skills training for youths since 8 March 2008, these are still viewed as piece meal: too micro to address the root issues, and hence incapable of recapturing the majority of Indian Malaysian appreciation.

Emerging unhappiness 

However, discontent against opposition leaders at the state and local government levels has also emerged. While political change through representation has come especially in a number of states, it has not been translated fast enough in socio- economic terms. This is because the root grievances of the poorer sections of the Tamil community require social development intervention by the public sector largely controlled by federal agencies.

Banner in Bukit Selambau rejecting all Indian Malaysian candidates from PKR, asides from Hindraf's RS Thanenthiran

While the voters swung toward parties like the DAP and PKR, they have not been institutionalised within these parties as members. Hindraf and Makkal Sakhti supporters want these parties to take their voter base seriously. For example, they wanted PKR to field its candidate of choice in Bukit Selambau, Kedah for the 7 April by-election. This did not materialise. Further, the choice of the PKR candidate has not been well received by some local Indian Malaysian leaders within PKR and the local community.

It is too early to say if the Indian Malaysian voters in Bukit Selambau will truly swing back to the BN as forecast by some people, as the community's core grievances remain unresolved.

An opportunity for BN

Kedah MIC Youth chief SK Suresh (third from left) in front of the BN's operation centre in Bukit Selambau

However, the MIC now has an opportunity in Bukit Selambau to test the waters and humbly win back the confidence of the Indian Malaysian community again.

Read more at: http://www.thenutgraph.com/opportunity-for-bn-in-bukit-selambau