LETTER | Indians have become ‘invisible’

LETTER | Going into the intense six state elections is expected to bring out articles, news and discussions about Malaysian Indians.

Last week, two articles appeared in the national media about ethnic Indians. The first is scholar Bridget Welsh and the second is P Ramasamy, a former college professor who became Penang’s deputy chief minister II.

I agree with both writers but also disagree with one area they touch on.

First, I agree with Welsh and Ramasamy that Indian votes matter. Indeed, the Indian vote has been and will continue to be important in future elections.

However, I disagree with their classification of India’s vote as a swing vote. In fact, Indians were swing voters in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, and to a certain extent, in the 2018 election.

A realignment began in 2008 that ended in the 2022 election. In the coming state elections, an Indian voter is likely to place a cross next to Pakatan Harapan on the ballot paper.

Bridget Welsh

Indians have been loyal Harapan voters, so-called “fixed deposit” votes in Malaysia.

Welsh argued that the current government has ignored the serious concerns of the community and concrete programs have not been implemented for them.

Ramasamy argues for a broader approach, not confined to an economic solution but one that balances national and Indian interests.

Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy of Penang

I applaud them for their concerns and thank them for raising them. However, the holistic approach recommended by Ramasamy is not new.

In the past, non-profit groups, interest groups and political parties have recommended governments to use many themes such as inclusive, comprehensive, comprehensive, fair, equitable, universal; the list goes on.

But we just have to accept the reality that Indians are not a priority, period!

Both scholars said Indians are poised to be a determining factor in the coming polls. When the majority of Malays are predicted to vote Perikatan Nasional and the Chinese become a solid voting bloc for Harapan, the Indian is indeed the kingmaker.

Indians are kingmakers but people assume that this role will be played on election day, and will take place in the voting booth. It is a legend as well as a dream.

As mentioned earlier, it is possible for an Indian voter to place a cross next to Harapan. How do we reconcile the fact that Indians, as loyal voters of Harapan, with the idea that the community is the kingmakers? There definitely seems to be a mismatch.

The puzzle is solved when we understand that this can only happen when Indians withhold their votes. This means that Indians are kingmakers if they sit in the election, and if it is done together and if properly organized.

Why is boycotting elections a good idea?

During the BN era, the community was neglected and neglected. Among the factors that led to this was because the Indian vote at that time was a “fixed deposit” vote for BN.

Additionally, there was a critical shortage of capable, sincere, and visionary leaders. After Harapan took over in 2018, and then lost power in 2020, Indians blamed Dr Mahathir Mohamad because he did not feel the benefits of the 22-month-old government.

Now, eight months have passed for the Anwar Ibrahim administration. While the Welsh were satisfied, this administration also disappointed the Indians.

There is no Mahathir to blame now. There are still four years and we don’t know the future; but from the speeches, policies and actions of this government, as far as India’s rights and benefits are concerned, we see a trend of continuing the ways of previous governments.

Therefore, we can conclude that no matter who is in charge, Indians will be ignored and remain “invisible” by the powers that be.

Given a scenario where Indians do not want to vote for the PN, the boycott strategy seems the most reasonable. Any boycott, however, needs to be done simultaneously and in an organized manner, otherwise it will be a futile effort.

After this, if Indians still come out and vote for the ruling party, my fear is that this blind hope will lead to nothing but disappointment and frustration.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

Boycotting may seem crazy but the community has nothing to lose by adopting it. Additionally, since voters typically do not boycott general elections (vying to become stakeholders in the future governing federal government), the opportunity to boycott is now.

By withholding their votes, at the very least, its impact on the election could act as an eye-opener, potentially yielding recognition and favorable policies.

If voting is a right, then not voting is also a right.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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