Clear message but BN washing its hands off non-Malays

Sonia Ramachandran, The Ant Daily

Most of the non-Malays turned away from the ruling Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election, with both MIC and MCA getting a drubbing.

This swing towards the opposition Pakatan Rakyat carried a clear, unmistakable message: the government of the day has not been doing enough for the Indian and Chinese communities.

It should have prompted the BN government to rectify the situation; instead the government appeared to have washed its hands off the Indian community.

This seemed to be the attitude taken by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who said the “Indians at the top should help their own kind who are ‘at the bottom’ instead of blaming the government over problems faced by the community”.

It was a puzzling remark to political analyst Prof James Chin who asked: “Why doesn’t he [Shahidan] say that the top Malays should help the poor Malays? Why does the government help the Malays only?

“This is typical of Umno ministers who think that the entire government and entire country belong to the Malays only. Is it any wonder that the non-Malays in the country voted against Umno in the last general election?”

Shahidan made the remarks on Nov 22 in Parliament in response to a question by M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat).

He reportedly said that Indians were successful with a high ratio for academic excellence and that Indian lawyers outnumbered both Chinese and Malay lawyers.

Shahidan added that 30 per cent of the country’s doctors came from the Indian community, but that there was “a big gap between those who are top achievers and the dropouts”.

He also reportedly said that the two MIC cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers in the federal government proved that the administration gave utmost consideration to the community.

Kulasegaran, however, disagreed, saying that the government had failed the Indians with ineffective policies and that in the absence of government support, the community had to work very hard to achieve any form of success.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng (picture) feels Shahidan’s statement is a reflection of the dichotomy within Umno.

“On the one side, the liberals and progressives would like to represent the interests of all Malaysians and I think Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak falls within this category. That’s why when he took over from [Tun Abdullah Ahmad] Badawi, a lot of liberal programmes under the 1Malaysia umbrella were implemented.

“On the other hand, people like Shahidan are conservative right-wing leaders who believe that Umno has already given a lot to the other communities by allowing them to stay here,” he said.

The way forward for the country, said Khoo, would lie with Najib.

“At the end of the day, Najib would have to decide whether to rule using the conservative platform or continue to serve on BN platform where Umno serves all communities, including the Indians.

“At the moment, the BN platform needs a lot of tweaking and rejuvenation to ensure it continues working as it has over the last 50 over years,” he said.