Indian leaders tell the opposition alliance why it is losing the community’s support.
GEORGE TOWN: Indian community leaders in and outside Pakatan Rakyat have called on the opposition coalition to do some soul-searching over its loss of Indian support.
They say Pakatan must question the sincerity of its leaders and the competence of its state administrations in addressing Indian concerns.
Hindraf Makkal Sakti adviser N Ganesan warned that Pakatan would not be able to woo back Indian votes if it continued with what he called “shadow-play” politics, occasionally using officials with “Indian-sounding names” to hand out “peanut funds” for Indian NGOs and Hindu temples.
He said Pakatan had failed to capitalise on its control of several state governments, pushing the Indian working class back to BN “because they prefer the familiar devil to a friend they don’t know”.
A DAP leader in Penang said it was time for Pakatan to carry out “pro-active initiatives” that would bring “real benefits” to the Indian community.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said last weekend’s meeting of the Pakatan Indian leadership was a good start but must be followed up with dialogue sessions involving the coalition’s Indian members and NGO representatives.
The meeting was held in Penang and attended by Pakatan leaders from states with high Indian populations. It was chaired by P Ramasamy, one of Penang’s deputy chief ministers.
He said Pakatan should not wait too long to hold the follow-up sessions in light of speculation about the imminence of the next general election. Pakatan states should use the findings as bases for policies benefitting the Indians, he added.
Another DAP man lamented the Pakatan governments’ failure to form state-level caucuses immediately after the last general election to address Indian-related issues.
G Asoghan, chairman of DAP’s Jalan Bagan Luar branch here, said Indians abandoned BN to vote for Pakatan in the last general election because they thought the opposition parties could resolve long-standing issues affecting their community.
“They are now disappointed that Pakatan governments have failed to carry out any noteworthy policy to help the predominantly poor Indian working class, even in Penang, where there is a deputy chief minister of Indian origin.”
He rebuked Pakatan governments for focusing on building support among Malays and Chinese while neglecting the Indians.
“This is not good governance,” he said.
He belittled last weekend’s meeting, saying that the exclusion of some elected representatives showed a lack of seriousness in addressing Indian concerns.
Absent from the meeting were state assemblymen M Manoharan of Kota Shah Alam, S Sivasubramaniam of Buntong and V Sivakumar of Tronoh. Sivakumar was the Speaker of the Perak State Assembly when Pakatan controlled the state.
Asoghan also spoke of rumours about misappropriation of funds collected by DAP in a 2008 campaign to help Sri Lankan Tamils.
According to one of the rumours, part of the money has been deposited into the account of a London-based Sri Lankan who is under suspicion of funding terrorism.
He said he would write to DAP headquarters for clarification. “Party members have the right to know the status of the fund now.”
Ganesan said the governments of Penang, Kedah and Selangor had committed the same wrongdoings that their BN predecessors were guilty of.
He pointed to the demolition of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang, the destruction of a Hindu burial ground in Kuala Ketil, Kedah, and the closing down of a temple in Bukit Gasing, Selangor.