Ethnic Indians’ concerns, focal point of Malaysia elections 

Ethnic Indians constitute eight percent of Malaysia’s population of 28 million. The British brought them into the country mostly to work in rubber plantations.

Analysts say while there is now a handful of rich Indians, a large number of them still remain poor. Indian leaders say both the government and federal Opposition have not done much to improve the living standard of ethnic Indians. 

The Opposition has also been slammed for failing to address the needs of the Indian community in their recent election manifesto. 

But the Democratic Action Party, the biggest party in the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance, has come up with a declaration to tackle the grievances of Indians. 

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the Islamist party PAS have remained silent, raising questions about their commitment to the declaration. 

For the first time in the 2008 general election, Indians voted largely for the Opposition. But analysts say, the failure of the Opposition to capitalise on Indian discontent coupled with measures taken by the government may help reverse that voting pattern. 

Analysts say the ruling Barisan Nasional’s policies, including two rounds of cash handouts to the poor, may have helped win back rural and working class Indian support. 

Prime minister Najib Razak must call for the next general election within the next three weeks, after which time his mandate runs out. 

And Indian votes will surely help determine who forms the next government.