Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu's Indian Dilemma

The MIC president, Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu, is very confused these days.  Despite his strenuous efforts in acquiring wealth for himself, something which in his view redounds on the Indian community's good reputation, many Indians, especially professionals and others, want a wider role for the community than be proud that its leader is a Bolehland Midas with the proclovities of Mr Scrooge.  Dato' Seri Samy Vellu takes such views as this as an insult to his, and the Indian's community's, intelligence that he loses his mind over it.  How else could one explain the verbal fisticuffs he had in Parliament this week with the DAP MP for Teluk Intan, Mr M. Kulasegaram, over the role of the Indian community.  He insists the Indians do well, thank you, better than they could ever have.  This despite the reality of active marginalisation of the community, with the MIC disinterested in their fate.  The Indian community is an underclass more determinedly than any other community. The MIC has deliberately ignored their plight, the party's aim to ensure that the lollies and goodies are shared by the president's men.  Any who challenges this view is ungrateful, a man who should not be called an Indian, he avers.  He would accept only pure unadulterated sycophancy from an Indian. 

     The man's anger therefore is understandable.  Three thousand representatives of Indian groups throughout the country met at the Chinese Assembly Hall last Sunday, 11 July 1999, to discuss their problems.  The MIC was invited, but like UMNO Youth, it does not see why such meetings to be held if it is not MIC that is organising it.  Not one leading MIC leader turned up to contribute to the non-party discussions on how to redress the ails of the Indian community, and how they can be galvanised to ensure fairplay and justice for them and how they can be a vehicle for national development.  The MIC finds such demands and discussions treacherous.  In Johore, the MIC tried, without success, to circumcribe the activities of an NGO, the Johore Indian Business Association (JIBA), who does more good to the Indian community in less than a decade than the MIC could in a century.  Studs farms for the leader in Australia take precedence over low cost housing for Indians.  Take the Putra and Star LRT, and you would see on sections of the route horrific slums -- and within a few kilometres of the Petronas Twin Towers -- of Indians.  Every high profile actions of the MIC failed, and continues to fail. 

     The primary industries minister, Dato' Seri Lim Kheng Yaik, insulted the Indian community, the MIC kept quiet.  Instead, it produced a report, posthaste, about its plans to introduce monthly wages.  Not that much would come out of it.  The MIC leaders are so badly compromised that even the government of which it is a member ignores its
recommendations.  Otherwise would that cabinet colleague of Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu insult the Indian community as he did when he retorted in the Senate that he did not know what Indian rubber tappers did behind rubber trees.  It was in response to a question from an MIC Senator about monthly wages for rubber tappers.  The MIC clearly did not address the issue until Dr Lim's outburst.  Like many of its instant reports, nothing would come out of it.

     Last Sunday's meeting is the result of continual MIC refusal to address the ails of the Indian community.  It came about with the realisation that the community would regress unless individuals took a hand and work to ensure its relevance.  The list of what is wrong with the community is long, and gets longer with MIC's strenous efforts.  The
MIC is angry that these professionals who were systematically rejected by the MIC leadership finds strength to organise and throw their support to the political party that could make a difference.  No party in the National Front provides that support for the Indian community;  The MIC, the PPP, the Gerakan.  A professional who joins any of the three is thrown into the scrapheap unless he is prepared to sing songs of praise of the Great Leader.  Look at Dato' Dominic Puthucheary, who was eased out of Gerakan after a term as MP when he would not;  or Dato' S.
Subramaniam, who would and remains, on paper, the successor to Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu.  But there is more to the Indian community's problems than sycophancy.

     Malaysian democracy streaks out into the sunlight after 44 years under the National Front banyan tree.  The Malay and Indian communities want a role for themselves than as doormats.  The Chinese community, as it has in every country in Southeast Asia, is comfortable being doormats to authority so long as they can survive on contracts obtained by hook or by crook.  But even here, the younger breed of Chinese question whether its traditional role should not be revalued.  The New Economic Policy ensured that the Malay would no longer be identified as syces and
office boys.  The Indians need a new economic policy more urgently than the Chinese.  But both need them.  The meeting of the 3,000 concerned Indian individuals is a step in that direction.  The MIC, the Gerakan and the PPP should not be surprised that the MIC's absence ensures that many of them would migrate to Keadilan instead, with some to the DAP. It is a testament to his leadership that he spends the whole of July in his constituency in Sungei Siput, where at least 16 MIC branches have moved wholesale to Parti Keadilan Negara, as has more than a score in Klang.  The MIC MPs and state assemblymen should expect a more intrusive pressure than they ever could have imagined.  If they find the heat too hot, they should get out of the political kitchen.  Dato' S. Samy Vellu included.

M.G.G. Pillai