MIC’s Decline: Confusing Symptoms With Causes

By G. Krishnan

Some days back R. Mutharasan offered some thought-provoking comments about the reasons for the demise of the MIC.

The essence of Mutharasan’s argument, and I quote, is as follows:

If we look at the past, there were three key policies of Umno and BN followed so religiously that they resulted in MIC's sorry state of affairs today.
Although Samy Vellu cannot be exonerated from his failed leadership and wrongdoings, it is these policies of Umno and BN that gave him a freehand to deal with party matters the way he wanted without any regard for democracy.

Specifically, the article goes on to single out Umno’s policy of non-interference in the affairs of component parties, an over-reliance on the singular voice of a component party president, and locking out other Indian-based parties from the BN.

Very simply, I concur with the sentiment of the author that the MIC has become largely irrelevant as a party for the Indians. However, while I find that Mutharasan has raised some noteworthy points, the analysis offered actually merely reflects what are the symptoms of the demise of the MIC – and not its causes.

The problem with Mutharasan’s argument is that the same relationship between Umno and the component parties (in this case the MIC) existed during the height of MIC’s popularity among the Indians. If Mutharasan’s argument is that the nature of Umno’s relationship with MIC has been the reason for the latter’s demise, the problem with this reasoning is that the same Umno-MIC relationship also existed when the MIC was dominant among Indian voters or non-Indian BN voters.

Hence, Mutharasan’s reasoning would lead us to the obvious question: So what has changed to cause the demise of the MIC? Unfortunately, Mutharasan’s explanation leaves much to be desired. Indeed, that explanation offered merely confuses what are symptoms of the situation rather than the causes of the MIC’s rapid decline.

One of the central causes of the decline of the MIC is also related to the crumbling of the other race-based parties: a growing discontent with the race-based political formula practiced by Umno and its component parties. This is directly related to, and has firmly impacted, the decline of the MIC.

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