Palanivel’s ministership no guarantee of votes, say analysts

By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel’s appointment as full minister gives the party more power to help the Indian community but would not translate automatically into more votes, analysts said.

Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian said Palanivel’s elevation to a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department would add to the promise of MIC but stressed that much depended on how the first-term party president used his new position.

“It doesn’t take anything away but I think it all really depends how well the issues of the Indian community . . . can be addressed by Palanivel,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“It’s a double-edged sword. If he’s given a post that takes time for him to deliver, it may end up backfiring,” he added.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced Palanivel’s appointment over the weekend, bringing the Cabinet to 30 ministers despite an earlier promise to cut the bloat in the Abdullah administration, which had 32 ministers.

MIC will now have two full ministers, including MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam, who is Human Resources Minister.

The prime minister has gone on a charm offensive to win over Indians after the usually staunch BN supporters forsook the ruling coalition in Election 2008 following a government crackdown on the November 2007 Hindraf rally, where some 30,000 Indians marched for better opportunities.

Political scientist Dr James Chin also said the appointment would not secure Indian votes as Palanivel would likely be unable to resolve the community’s long-standing grievances.

While the “patronage” that comes with the full ministership would prove useful in helping Indians apply for ICs and get more places in training schemes, it would do little for the hardcore urban poverty, housing shortages and low employment faced by the community, Chin said.

“I personally don’t think it’ll make a difference,” he said. “But at least in terms of (public relations) it’ll look like he’s (Najib) doing something for the community.”

Chin added that Najib’s move would likely go down well with older Indians but would not make much difference to the younger Indians.