By P Ramasamy
The talk of another integrated blueprint for the socio-economic advancement of the Indian community has been in the air for quite a while.
When Prime Minister Najib Razak visited India recently, he mentioned this blueprint to a largely Tamil audience in Chennai.
Next Sunday, Najib is expected to unravel this blueprint for the socio-economic advancement of the Indian community.
Some of the researchers associated with the genesis of the blueprint have praised it as an “integrated” document that will propel the Indian community to advance in the age of globalisation and global competitiveness.
These researchers who have no standing in the Indian community, and who have little or no understanding of the needs of the Indian community, are full of praise for Najib for trying to address the community’s age-old grouses.
Even Kenneth Eswaran of the Malaysian Associated Indian Chamber of Commerce (MAICC) was full of praise for Najib for initiating this momentous historic document.
The release of the document next week to the public by Najib is no coincidence. It has come at a time when the Barisan Nasional is battling a deficit in electorate support for the next general election, to be held either this year or the next.
Najib believes he can still count on Indian votes especially in some urban and rural areas. But he is also aware that the MIC, which is highly dependent on Malay votes, cannot deliver the crucial Indian votes and hence the reason why he has had to personally initiate this blueprint to secure whatever Indian support he can gather.
Thus, by engaging in grand publicity about the blueprint and the need to resolve the myriad problems faced by the Indian community, Najib thinks that the Indians can turn around to support the BN.
As far as Najib is concerned, the MIC is “finished” with no prospect of political survival. The number of seats that the party wins has declined over the years. Even those who manage to win do so by getting the support of Malay votes. In other words, the MIC is being kept alive in the country by Malay votes rather than Indian votes, and Najib knows this well.
The blueprint for Indians is not so much about addressing and resolving the socio-economic grievances of the community, but more about obtaining their support in the coming general election.
Whether the Indian community will support the BN remains to be seen, as there are indications that the Indians have decided to move away from the BN and MIC for good. Najib will try but whether the blueprint “magic” will work remains doubtful.
The blueprint is based on false or inaccurate data. Surely, it is only common sense that the total Indian population in the country is a lot more than the stated mere 1.7 million.
I am not sure when the last population census was conducted, but this figure grossly underestimates the number of Indians in the country. Since this data is inaccurate or false, how can the authors of the blueprint decide on the exact number of Indian families who fall below the poverty line or who receive certain levels of income. When the data gathered is political in nature, what can we say about the blueprint?
The last blueprint might have been in 1974, about four decades ago, but then when a document itself is politically motivated, the present blueprint like the one earlier, might not accomplish the intended job.
The only “blue” about the last blueprint was the blue printed text but other than this, the contents were all vague.
I do not think much will come of the blueprint Najib is going to make public. It is not a serious document that predicates the socio-economic development of Indians on the basis that they have equal rights without discrimination on the basis of race, religion or creed.
When Indians in the country do not have basic rights as citizens and are racially and religiously polarised, how can they expect the implementation of the blueprint to be smooth sailing? When more than 300,000 locally born Indians are not accorded citizenship, how are they going to benefit from the blueprint?
In the final sense, the blueprint is a political document meant to ensure that the BN will remain relevant for another term in Malaysian politics. It is not about Indians or their grievances but all about Umno remaining in power for a while.
Since the blueprint might be a senseless pursuit for Indians, I suggest that at least the text printed on the cover of the document be “blue” in colour.
In this way, the document can still be technically defined as a “blueprint”.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and Deputy Secretary-General of the DAP. -FMT