With elections around the corner, the Indian community is being courted by politicians of all stripes like never before. Their votes are expected to play a crucial role in deciding the fate of candidates in many constituencies, and for once they are not being taken for granted.
This election period presents a short but important window of opportunity for Indians to ensure that their demands get heard. This is a ripe moment for Malaysian Indian community leaders to be united and brainstorm on ways to improve the conditions of their community.
Indian politicians have long claimed to represent the interests of the community. But it is worth asking, do they possess the necessary leadership qualities? Have they been assertive enough? Do they really understand the needs of the Indian community and possess the vision and strategy to take the Indian community to a higher level?
It is indeed sad to see our Indian politicians jostling and competing with each other in order to please their political masters. Otherwise how can we explain them competing with each to pull in a bigger crowd for the Deepavali open house or outdoing each other in protesting against the controversial 29-storey condominium project near Batu Caves.
Instead of being used, they should be the ones to set the agenda for the advancement of Indians. How far anyway can subsidies, tokens and support take us? Malaysian Indians need permanent solutions to the problems hindering their progress in order to take their rightful place in the country. We have been here long enough and we deserve it.
Indians are not new to Malaysia. Their presence in this country goes back 2000 years as evidenced in Bujang Valley. Indians in the last century made tremendous contributions and sacrifices in developing the rubber industry and construction works which led to economic development of the country that we are all witnessing and enjoying today.
Keeping these facts in mind, Malaysian Indian politicians should set aside of their narrow interests and work for the advancement of the long suffering Indians. This requires a paradigm shift in their thinking. Not only should they learn to dream big, but as representatives of Malaysian Indians should ensure it is the dream of Indians that is being carried out, not some short term projects for political expediency.
I propose a team (about 100 of them) of politicians from various political parties, successful businessman, thought leaders, educationists, and some real people in the street gather and seize this pre-election opportunity to chalk out the future course of action to improve the lives of Malaysian Indians.
Five issues affecting Indians should be looked into immediately and with great urgency.
- Build a visionary tower which will serve as an icon for Indians. This is something Malaysian Indians will be proud of and will be reflective of their identity and the future that beckons them.
- Urge the government to propose the Bujang Valley, site of the oldest civilization of Southeast Asia, as a Unesco World Heritage site. Why just Batu Caves temple?
- Education issue: There is pressing need to address the low standards of the Tamil schools in particular and the performance of Indian students in general. Indian students are neglected and underperform. Lack of proper skills and qualifications become the starting point of a host of problems plague the community. These range from joblessness, homelessness, ill health, crime and poverty.
- Moral upliftment: It is no secret that crimes committed by Malaysians of Indian origins has reached alarming proportions. Intervention through moral uplifting has to be achieved at early age. Building the character, incorporating noble qualities and striving for high moral values are the foundation of any community aspiring to be successful and upgrade their socio-economical status.
- Address our dwindling population issue. At the time of independence, Malaysian Indians comprised nearly 15 percent of the population. Today it has come down to only 7% and it is expected to further decline tremendously by the year 2020. The implications are wide. With fewer numbers, Malaysian Indians will cease to be force to be reckoned with. They will become less relevant and more marginalized, neglected and forgotten.