From the time Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over as Prime Minister he had indulged in many activities to entice the Indians back to the BN fold. He visited Batu Caves during Thaipusam,visited India and took pains to paid a courtesy call on the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, personally launched the Makkal Sakti party after the big loss of the MIC at the last elections, managed to force Samy Velu to step down as MIC president and recently appeared to have heeded the call by MIC to release of the 6 PSM leaders detained under the Emergency Ordinance. He even agreed to alter the university semester to cater for the Deepavali festival and provide buses to transport Hindu students in campuses to temples on Fridays.
He readily appointed Datuk G.Palanivel,the current President of MIC to a full minister in his cabinet, something which the MIC had been fighting for a very long time without success. However this came so abruptly which caught everyone by surprise as it was granted without any pressure now.
Why has Najib to go out of the way to court the Indians, who just comprise less than 8% of the population and who have hardly any political or economic power in the country? If at all they have any power it is their perceived “divine” power. The reason is not very difficult to decipher. His support from the Chinese can be written off and that from the Malays is eroding fast. With this situation and with the elections looming what choice does he have other than to entice the Indians back?
The moves by Najib may be signs of his goodwill to the Indian community but will they be enough to convince the Indians? It would have in the past but not anymore. In fact many see his moves as being too little too late and others question the sincerity of his motives. His latest move to appoint Palanivel is seen as a desperate move to please the Indians which is not being well received by the community, as most Indians feel an additional cabinet post is the least the Indians need now.
By his appointment Palanivel and the MIC may have got what they wanted, but is it want the Indians themselves wanted? What they want is to be accorded their social, economic and political rights and dues as legitimate citizens of the country. They want to be treated with respect as rightful citizens who want to coexist harmoniously with the other races in peace and unity.
The pathetic state of the Indians in Malaysia cannot be overcome by mere gestures of goodwill by the government especially at times of elections. It has to be addressed as a Malaysian problem and not as an isolated Indian one. The problem is a complex socio-economic one that need careful planning and bold execution to overcome it.
The Indians alone cannot solve their problems in isolation. They need the concerted actions of all and a government that adopts a more concerned multiracial attitude to solve their problems not as Indians but as citizens belonging to an impoverished group of Malaysians. It is sad that Najib and his Umno-BN is not willing to that now anytime now.
At the same time the Indians must adopt a new mindset to consider themselves as Malaysians first and fight for their rights together with the other communities as Malaysians not as Indians fighting for Indian rights. We have to accept the fact that we are all Malaysians and no one community can live happily with another in dire poverty and distress. Rise or fall we will together no matter how strong or rich one may be.