10 reasons for Indians to drop BN

Here are 10 reasons why the Indian community should not vote for Barisan Nasional in the next general election, according to Kota Alam Shah state rep M Manoharan. 

By M Manoharan, FMT

Umno’s ‘Malay Supremacy’ agenda

I would be echoing the sentiments of the great majority of Indians in Malaysia when I say they are effectively second class citizens under Umno’s rule. Umno and BN can be used interchangeably because Umno is not only the dominant party but the de facto ruling party as well.

The much entrenched ‘Ketuanan Melayu ’ or Malay Supremacy is the unwritten code of Umno’s rule. The ruling party has perfected this philosophy to the extent of rivalling the notorious racist agenda of apartheid South Africa. Basically, Ketuanan Melayu aims to contain the progress and prosperity of the non-Malays.

The Indians have traditionally looked to the civil service for employment but in the last few decades they have seen their share of public sector jobs severely curtailed. Too many Indians have to eke out a harsh living outside the comfort of the government service and the GLCs. Many resort to low paying jobs which in turn locks them in a vicious cycle of poverty. Also, the high crime rate among Indians is a direct result of the lack of access to good, high- income jobs for Indians.

NEP’s lopsided implementation

The NEP introduced in 1970 and which has set the direction of the nation ever since was designed to:

a) restructure society so that race is no longer identified with occupation, and

b) eradicate poverty irrespective of race/ ethnicity.

However, none of these noble intentions ever reached the Indian community. The implementation of the NEP has bypassed the Indians. In the past, Indians were identified with the civil service, professions and the plantations. Today, they are increasingly associated with low pay jobs and hard, physical labour.

Many flagship projects of the NEP offered little to the Indian community. Felda which transformed the landless and the poor among the Malays to proud land owners had little impact on the Indians. It was the same story with Felcra, Risda and the numerous other schemes designed to uplift the rural poor.

Somehow, the Indian poor, a large proportion of whom were in the plantations were invisible to the formulators and the implementers of the NEP. There were no quotas assigned to the Indian community for jobs in the GLCs or the private sector. If the BN government could do it for the poor Malays, why did it overlook the poor Indians?

Was not the NEP designed for all Malaysians? Why the lop-sided implementation? Today, we have an Indian community that has high endemic poverty, the highest violent crime rate and a decreasing proportion in the top professions.

The pathetic state of the Tamil schools

Any responsible government would look into the education needs of its entire people. But then, BN has never been a responsible government. The BN government has systematically marginalised vernacular education. Fortunately, the economic and philanthropic strength of the Chinese community has mitigated the many challenges facing Chinese schools. There are 523 Tamil schools in the country, but up to 79% or some 379 of these schools are still occupying dilapidated, termite infested, semi-permanent buildings built on private land before Merdeka. The bigger majority of these schools are in a pathetic state – undersized classrooms, leaking roofs and some even without water or electricity.

Almost all face teacher shortage of some kind, some more acute than others. Promises are made from time to time by the government to improve trainee teacher intake, training temporary teachers and offering them permanent positions but the reality is the opposite. Some 40% of all Tamil school teachers are contract or temporary teachers.

This potent combination of poor infrastructure and teacher shortage is a definite recipe for the high failure rate of Tamil school students. Tamil schools are a neglected lot and the BN must be held responsible by all Indian voters.

Limited opportunities in the civil service and GLCs

Prior to the implementation of the NEP in 1970, Indians were well represented in the civil service. The lop-sided implementation of the NEP has decimated the Indian numbers in the civil service.

Indians and other non-Bumiputeras are severely discriminated both in the intake as well as in subsequent promotions.

For instance, there is not a single Indian judge in the Federal Court. The BN government must look into an Equal Opportunity Commission & an Equal Opportunity Act to redress the gross imbalance among the races in the Government service.

Citizens denied citizenship

Almost 300,000 Indians who are eligible for citizenship do not have MyKads. They are children born to citizen parents whose births were not registered for one reason or another. In a nutshell, they have been denied citizenship due to a government bureaucracy that is callous to their plight. Many dreams have been shattered, jobs and careers foregone and households mired in poverty due to citizenship denied.

Almost all are deserving cases because most were born in Malaysia or have lived here all their lives. Of late, the MIC has organised citizenship for about 4,000 cases but this hardly scratches the surface of the problem. It is more of a publicity stunt for the BN to dupe the Indian electorate as many of the cases publicised in the media are senior citizens in their twilight years and well past their prime.

Sadly, it is a case of political gimmicking taking precedence over resolution of people’s grievances.

Highest unemployment rate

Indians have the highest unemployment rate among the major races in the country. The neglect of the Tamil schools means it ill-prepares the students for secondary school and beyond. Many Indian students lack the linguistic and numerical skills needed for today’s job market.

Moreover, Indians do not have access to skills training institutes like GiatMara, polytechnics, Mara Training Institutes, vocational schools and numerous other training institutes’ set-up with public money at the state and national levels. Certainly, there is a lack of concerted action by the BN government to train and equip Indian youths with the necessary job skills.

The typical response by BN leaders is that Indians do not apply for these opportunities. How can Indians apply for these places when it is not made known to them?

As a result, the majority resort to the private sector. With low levels of education and absence of marketable skills, they are forced to work as lorry drivers, road sweepers, dishwashers, free-lance house maids, cleaners, despatch clerks, personal drivers, etc. These jobs are shunned by the other races because of the low pay, long working hours and physical risks involved.

The situation has got so bad that Indians are forced to compete with foreigners for these very jobs.