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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Do not bask in glory, MIC

Giving MIC another minister's post may not necessarily mean the 1.8 million Malaysian Indian community is going to return to the BN fold, say analysts.

ANALYSIS

PUTRA JAYA: While the MIC, touted to be the largest Indian-based political party in the country, is busy blowing its trumpet following its second ministership appointment, political pundits argue that the party should instead concentrate on winning back the support of the 1.8 million Malaysian Indian community.

Yesterday, Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional (BN) chief Najib Tun Razak announced that party president G Palanivel, who has served as deputy minister, would be made Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department ending MIC’s 35-year wait.

The party initially had two full ministers but gave it up for two deputy ministers’ post some 35 years ago.

While the appointment augers well for the party, the timing of the appointment is being questioned.

Is this a sweetener to win back the support of the Malaysian Indian community, which seems to be trickling back to the ruling coalition after the 2008 general election?

With the next general election expected to be held in the next 18 months, there is a general sentiment in the community that the appointment is just to pacify and win the total support of the
Indians through MIC.

Critics now say that while the BN could not give Palanivel a ticket to contest at the Hulu Selangor by-election last year, it had conveniently given him a minister’s post solely to win the hearts and
minds of the community.

“If he was not a winnable candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election, why appoint him a full minister? This puzzles a lot of people… but I feel the answer is simple. MIC needs to be strengthened. The BN needs to show that it has the Indian community’s interest at heart,” said a party insider who declined to be named.

“The MIC had been asking the second minister’s post for a while now. So to make it a win-win situation for all, Najib has decided to appoint Palanivel as minister,” he added.

Winnable candidates

Palanivel had held the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat from 1990 to 2004. He lost the seat at the 2008 general election. The seat fell vacant again after the death of the incumbent and in that by-election, the BN leadership decided to field P Kamalanathan, who is also from the MIC.

The reason given by the BN for not picking Palanivel was that it wanted winnable candidates.

Soon after the by-election, Palanivel was made a senator and given a deputy minister’s post.

Party insiders say even his appointment as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department was an eye-wash as the ministry’s was powerless in implementing plans.

“How is Palanivel’s appointment as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department going to help the Indian community? The MIC president needs a strong ministry but this was not the case. It looked like Najib was throwing bones to keep MIC and the Indians happy,” said a division leader who declined to be named.

Another MIC member, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Palanivel would have slightly less than 18 months to prove his worth and this was too short a time for him to do anything.

“He will have only 18 months to address the grouses of the community. Do you seriously expect him to address all the issues confronting the Malaysian Indian community in this span of time when the party has been trying to solve these woes for the last two decades?” he asked.

A ‘smokescreen’

He added that the second Cabinet minister’s post was nothing but a “smokescreen” in an attempt to “sweep away” all the other problems in the community.

He said the cruncher would be when the list of MIC candidates are named for the next general
election.

“Which seat are they going to give him? What happens if Palanivel loses in the next general election? Will they (Umno) take back the second minister’s post? This appointment raises more questions than answers.”

Another MIC leader pointed out that Palanivel is perceived as an “Umno-appointed MIC president and minister”.

“Because of this, Palanivel is seen as an Umno puppet. He was appointed to all these posts – senator, deputy minister and now minister,” he said.

“He did not win any posts by merit and this is is the setback not only for him but also the MIC. It will be indebted to Umno until Palanivel is replaced,” he added.

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