MIC president is unable to lift Malaysian Indians to face the new reality
The MIC president’s recent call to poor urban settlers to go back to estate indicates that the MIC has lost touch with ground reality of the Indian community. Malaysian Indians have long ago left estates at the constant persuasion of MIC leaders. This urban exodus started in early seventies. In 1974 the then MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Velu made the assurance that all workers leaving estates will be given new skills training to find suitable jobs in towns. That was the last time we ever heard of skill training from Samy Velu and MIC. Now, after 37 years, the next president replacing Samy Velu advices those who came to town but still couldn’t get a footing in the urban settlement to go back to estates! An advice that is sure to fall on deaf years.
The country has moved from agricultural to industrial and service economy since the seventies. Malaysia attracted FDIs and factories grew all over and estates were converted into housing schemes. The economy grew by leaps and bounds. The Malaysian government was busy and focused on implementing NEP in every sector possible including civil service. Government departments treated Malaysian Indians as third class citizens. Plantation workers could not get anywhere with their problems be it red IC, birth certificate, employment, small business opportunities, scholarships and educational opportunities. Only after 2008 elections, the BN government did initiate programs to win back Indian votes like MYDAFTAR and TEKUN.
Malaysian Indians were completely neglected in the nation building and mainstream economic and political activities. The BN government shut out Malaysian Indians from all its plans and left them with MIC to manage. Plantation worker’s children need more job opportunities and skill training especially the small Indian businesses. Plantation children need more access to higher education and financial support. The federal government must treat Malaysian Indians as citizens who can contribute to the economic and social welfare and not third class citizen of this country. Institutionalized racism and corruption within the bureaucracy drove them away into poverty and crime. Discrimination in sports and studies in national schools marginalized Malaysian Indians further into predicament which MIC could do nothing but give excuse for UMNO.
The remaining Indians in estates are workers doing gardening and other housekeeping work and no more harvesting palm oil and tapping rubber. These works are undertaken by foreign workers. The foreign workers can go to the plantation early morning at 3 am and work till evening. Malaysian Indians who have family will not do better than foreign workers and estate owners are also no more interested in Malaysian Indian workers. The Indians left in estates are on the way out. Felda Negeri Sembilan in Jempol still has empty lots to be taken up. MIC president should urge the prime minister for those vacant lots for Indian community currently worked by foreign workers from Thailand. The MIC president should reach out to FELDA management and help out those Indians keen to settle down in FELDA instead of asking Indians to go back to plantation work.
MIC and its president are totally out of sync with the needs and wants of the Malaysian Indian community. MIC must show the way forward and not regress backward. MIC by bending backward to please UMNO, is mortgaging the plantation workers plight and their children’s future.
Senator Dr. S. Ramakrishnan