Abdullah’s Assurance to Look into HINDRAF’s 18-point Memorandum on the Eve of the Permatang Pauh By-Election’s Reeks of Desperation and Disingenuousne

Abdullah’s Assurance to Look into HINDRAF’s 18-point Memorandum on the Eve of the Permatang Pauh By-Election’s Reeks of Desperation and Disingenuousness.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s surprise visit to the Karumariamman temple in Seberang Jaya is clearly a strategy to win over Indian votes at the Permatang Pauh by election.

It is a disingenuous move on the part of the premier whose government is yet to come up with a durable solution to solve the many woes faced by the minority Indian community in the country. The community is discriminated upon in terms of educational, housing, employment and business opportunities, among others.

Abdullah must first release the five HINDRAF leaders who are being held under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial. Without their release, his assurance to look into the 18-point memorandum by the Hindu group would remain a mere curtain raiser to the electoral campaign.

The ruling coalition’s humiliating defeat at the March polls is largely attributed to Abdullah’s and BNs many missteps and shoddy policy decisions. Despite the political setback and widespread anger against the BN and UMNO in particular, Abdullah continues to make pathetic statements.

The prime minister’s appeal to vote for Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah as the Indians need someone to look after them reeks of ignorance. It is the responsibility of the state to look into the welfare of a minority community including the poor of all races in the country.

Malaysians have traditionally voted along racial lines. The Malays voted UMNO, Chinese showed their support for the MCA and the Indians threw their support behind the MIC. This arrangement only worked for as long as the different races believed that only their parties could help look after their interests. But it changed drastically when people including minorities became increasingly disillusioned with their political leaders.

Thus, reversing the ban on the license for metal traders is not enough to woo Indian voters. The government must come up with both short and long term plans with a set of feasible targets and deadline to uplift the socioeconomic condition of the community. Failing this, the Indians will again totally abandon the ruling coalition as they did on March 2008.

Charles Santiago
MP Klang

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