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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do MIC top two deserve cabinet posts?

G Palanivel and Dr S Subramaniam have yet to prove their contributions to the community seven months after being appointed as Ministers.
COMMENT
COMMENT: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is likely tinker his barely a-year old cabinet following the conclusion of all Barisan Nasional component party elections.
Even if he does not make major changes, he will try to twick his cabinet list to accommodate those who had won positions in their respective party polls.
However, the burning question is what would be the fate of non-performing Ministers, who hold important posts in their parties.
While Ministers from Sabah and Sarawak deserve their positions in Najib’s latest cabinet, questions are being asked on the appointment of two cabinet Ministers from the MIC.
MIC is the nation’s largest Indian-based political party, representing the nearly 2 million Malaysian Indian community in the ruling Barisan Nasional, which had ruled this country for the last 56 years.
The party for years had only one Minister but that changed under Najib’s administration. He wanted to give the Indians and bigger voice and extended an extra cabinet position for the party.
He appointed MIC chief G Palanivel and party deputy president Dr S Subramaniam as Natural Resources and Environmental Minister and Health Minister, respectively.
The reason to give the Indian community two cabinet positions was to allow the minority community more voice in the country’s decision making process.
But, after seven months, since the 13th general election, questions are now being asked if the two Indian ministers were effective in bringing the woes of the community to the cabinet. Their performance in their respective Ministries are also being queried.
Are they really doing their job? Have both these leaders contributed anything for the betterment of the community?
These are just two questions that they need to answer.
The plight of Tamil schools is always a major issue among the Indian community. Despite, Malaysia’s independence some 56-years ago Tamil schools are still in deplorable condition.
To make matters worse, the government’s latest education blueprint is devoid of policies and measures to safeguard the continuity and development of vernacular schools.
Chinese educationist say the gist of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 is to ensure a single language (monolingual educational) policies.
While MCA and Chinese educationist have come out against this, there isn’t a single statement by these two MIC ministers on the matter.
Some feel, they would not be surprised if Palanivel and Dr Subramaniam did not even know the actual content of the blueprint.
The two leaders have also failed to ensure adequate matriculation seats were awarded to deserving Indian students.
The confusion over how many matriculation seats were awarded to Indian students still reigns.
The Prime Minister in 2011 announced that the government would allocate 1,500 matriculation seats for Indians.
In 2013, an astounding 6,185 Indian students applied for the 1,500 seats but only 892 students were given seats by the Matriculation Department.
The disclosure saw affected students, parents and NGOs protesting against the injustice. But, the two MIC Ministers were silent as though nothing was wrong.
They were also silent when a small part of the Bujang Valley, an ancient temple locality in Kedah, was demolished by a private developer. They were equally silent when the Malacca state government proposed a housing project in the 599-year old Kampung Chetty.
While they have been ineffective in fighting for the community so far, they have also been sluggish in their ministerial portfolios.
Being the Natural Resource and Environmental Minister, Palanivel was ‘missing in action’ during the recent floods in the east coast states which forced evacuation of over 40,000 people.
He has also skipped the Umno, MCA and Gerakan annual general assemblies. FMT learnt that he was the only Minister who attended only one cabinet meeting in December.
Dr Subramaniam on the other hand, is pretending to be in the dark over the re-recognition of the Crimea State Medical University(CSMU), an Ukrainian based medical school, which was derecognised by the government some 15-years ago.
Although the community, including MIC leaders, want Dr Subramaniam to push for government recognition of CSMU, he is still silent on the matter even after the medical school went on record to say that it was willing to comply by all conditions set forth by the government for the recognition.
The Health Ministry’s failure to give proper answers and initiate action against the contractor of the Serdang Hospital, which had its ceiling collapse for the seventh time, has also irked many.
Dr Subramaniam is  also unable to find a permanent solution for lack of housemanship places for newly graduated medical doctors and this has also questioned his performance as Health Minister.
This brings us to another important question: Does the Indian community need these two leaders to represent them in the cabinet?
What is obvious is that Indians are now bypassing these two ministers and seeking direct solutions to their problems to their woes.
Najib has set a new trend by having direct connection with the community through various programmes and initiatives. There may come a time when Najib will realise that he does not need “middlemen minister” like Palanivel and Dr Subramaniam.
When he can run a government without proper Chinese representation, he can do the same to the Indians.
All that is needed to be done is to have more Indian civil servants in high positions so that the plight of the community can be highlight in government policies and initiatives.
This will effectively reduce Najib’s dependence on Ministers like Palanivel and Dr Subramaniam.

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