Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A New Political Arrangement Is Needed To Bring Indians Into The Mainstream Of National Development.

The voters in the 4 estates in Bagan Pinang (Ladang Atherton, Siliau, Ladang Bradwall and Sua Betong) cast their votes overwhelmingly for the UMNO candidate. This was one of the reasons for the increased majority from 2333 to 5435. A swing of 1500 votes to BN of which at least 400 of these came from these 4 estates. Well, today the day after, normalcy will return to these estates and life will go on for all the people there with very little changing after this. The UMNO candidate goes away to continue with his usurpation of the National resources while the poor Indians go away to their miserable lives.

This is exactly how it has been going on for the last 52 years. Election after election empty promises and continuing illusions. Life never has changed for these Indian working people. Till today they live a life of very limited real opportunities. They live a life of indignity. They live on the edge of our society - forgotten till election time like this. They live a life that delivers so little to them and to their children.

The pundits of the country will have us believe it is because of their attitudes, their lack of desire, that they find themselves in this state. This is rubbish. This theory takes the focus away from the real reasons for this state of affairs. The mandores perpetuate this theory further – just listen to them. This is no accident of history either. This is occurring by design. It is a devious design. It is an UMNO charted design. It is a design of systematic neglect. A whole ecosystem has been developed to institutionalize this neglect. This system of neglect can be best understood when seen against a contrasting situation..


This contrasting situation is taken out of today’s(12th Oct 2009) NST supplement on FELDA ‘s NEW GENERATION.

What started as a modest program in 1956 today has become a giant organization. The schemes it manages covers an area of 2 million acres and more than 530,000 people. FELDA's main role is to open up new land areas for agriculture and relocation of low income and landless rural inhabitants. It doesn’t say Malay only but the fact is that the Felda program is almost entirely for the Malay poor and landless. We have no problems with that. What we have a problem with is the systematic and wholesale exclusion of Indians from this program. Nowhere in the Federal Constitution does it say that programs like this must exclude Indians. This is the contrasting situation that I want to portray, to show the systematic neglect of the Indian poor.

This is very clearly basic UMNO policy. It helps it take care of its core constituency, the rural Malays. It becomes a platform for patronage that has been developed and honed and fine tuned over the last 50plus years, and provides the necessary opportunities for accumulation of wealth for the growing appetites of the UMNOputras.. The 2005 results of FELDA show a total turnover of RM 12 Billion. The profits alone are over 700 million. See the scale of things – enormous.

The NST supplement very clearly shows the many and varied human development programs initiated and supported by Felda. Just in the last few years the programs and initiatives launched by Felda - a RM 120 million Maktab Rendah Sains Mara in Trolak, Perak. Just for one school RM120 million. Compare this with the recent promise of an allocation of RM100 million by the PM for 523 Tamil schools in the country, which anyway has not been disbursed yet inspite of it being so many months since the announcement..

Felda supports the education of the youth from Felda with Aircraft Maintenance Engineer training program with MAS, Designer training programs in the Limkokwing University, Nurse training programs in Nilai College, scholarships to overseaes universities in the UK, Australia and the United States in the fields of Biotechnology, Actuarial Sciences, and various Engineering programs.

Felda has launched a new generation skills training program and has put out over 24,000 graduates since 2005.They have a budget of RM50 million annually for this program. Contrast this with all that has not been done for the Indian youth in this category. We can go on and on . the story is long and sad.

Just imagine the scope of opportunities that have been opened up to its beneficiaries. In contrast nothing has been provided for Indians in this program – zero. No opportunities for Indians in the Felda scheme which is materially significant.

If the estate residents like those in the four estates of Bagan Pinang, had been part of such programs, today the situation with the Indian community would be very different. Mind you again, this is only one of the hundreds of such programs that are going on in the country and zero for Indians in all of these programs.

This is really the situation that we must change. The electoral system must be used to bring about changes to the political arrangement in the country so Indians can be systematically brought into the mainstream of national development.. Every program of the government must include Indians fairly and there must be a designed effort to bring Indians into this mainstream of national development.

We have to stop the politicians create illusions and make empty promises and cart all these opportunities away from people who truly need them. Because Indian youth today are blocked from such legitimate opportunities, they tend to choose the path of crime for upward mobility. They are caught sometimes, many times shot dead, often after being caught, beaten to death. Their parents continue to languish in their never changing life , earning measly amounts and hanging on to their meager lives. And the scale of this problem has been growing. Indian lives do not seem to matter in this country.

So, UMNO, the culprit has to go, no doubt at all about that, if this state of affairs is ever to change. They cannot reform themselves to do the things we talk about here. And they will try very hard to hang on, as we can see from all the jostling they have been doing recently. They just have to go.

Even though the Indian votes went to the UMNO candidate in the Bagan Pinang Elections, it doesn’t change anything. This is only a by election. The ADUN who passed away was from BN anyway. Status quo has been maintained.

The point about the vote swing is very clear. If PR does not come out openly and significantly and start to address the Indian issues in areas where they do have authority, they are not going to get the Indian votes as completely as they did in the last GE. I think that much should be clear with the outcome of the Bagan Pinang elections. In fact we warned PR so. PR thought the Indians have no choice – well you saw, they do, but not necessarily because they want it, but because they had to deliver a message.

The same for the next General Elections. As the VP for PAS very succinctly put it and let me quote “In the last (general) election we got strong support from the Indian community... they had no choice, there was no alternative and they had high expectations of Pakatan.” "Now, they are not all for the BN government but I would say that their support is not as solid as it was in the last election (for Pakatan)," he added. Salahuddin said Pakatan need to be more serious in addressing the woes faced by the Indian community. "Pakatan is not doing enough," he added.

This ‘enough’ that he talks about is not anything unreasonable. We just want the Indians to be brought into the mainstream of National Development. As much attention as goes into the development of the Bumiputra programs by the government must go into the development of the Indian programs in the country. And base everything truly on needs. Who needs it most must get it. This is what we seek. Today in the UMNO based system, this is totally absent. And UMNO just cannot do it. They have to go and PR has to show they will make a difference.