By Dr Chris Anthony
Indians tired of talk, want action
It was amusing to watch the national level Unity Ponggal organised by the MIC on Feb 2 at Dataran Merdeka reportedly attended by over 100,000 Indians.
It was officially opened by none other than our Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak, himself.
Although called Otrumai Ponggal (Unity Ponggal), there was nothing about unity as the attendees were mainly Indians.
It was more of a political ceramah to woo the Indians to BN in the coming GE13.
In his speech, it was encouraging that Najib, dressed in Indian traditional attire, recalled the many contributions of the Indians to nation building which he mentioned one by one.
However he failed to explain why after 55 years of BN rule they are still far behind the other races socio-economically.
He also failed to outline his long-term plans to lift the Indians out of their ailments.
Of late the prime minister has taken great pains to show his goodwill and concern for the plight of Indians in the country.
He had spent and is continuing to spend huge amounts of money and time to woo them back into the BN fold.
Their support at the coming GE13 is pivotal to BN's victory at the most crucial polls ever.
Najib may be made to believe that his goodwill alone may be enough to win over the Indians who are plagued with insurmountable problems that they cannot overcome without the assistance of the government.
Despite these goodwill gestures by the PM, the Indians continue to be treated poorly.
Cruelty and death in police custody continues without any action against the culprits.
Demolitions of temples and shrines continue indiscriminately.
Many who are born and bred here are denied citizenship and remain stateless, thereby forcing them into criminal activities and other vices.
Their children are subjected to discrimination in schools, denied education at public colleges and universities, and the youths are unable to get decent jobs in public and even private institutions.
Under such circumstances, the goodwill of one man alone, Najib alone, is not going to help the Indians out of their pitiful state.
Participating in grand celebrations of the various festivals, cash handouts and donations to Indian-run institutions are not going to bring significant long-term benefits to the Indians.
Much more sincere and affirmative actions are needed by the government to overcome the woes of the Indians.
Firstly, it must respect them as legitimate citizens.
Secondly, it must treat them with dignity, as they are here to stay.
Thirdly, grant them their constitutional rights without undue harassment - education, jobs and due recognition for their talents, contributions and sacrifices which are numerous.
The goodwill of the PM alone is not enough but his goodwill must disseminate into the lower rungs of his party and the government institutions under his control and be transformed into sincere actions to improve the well-being of the Indians.
Their plight must be seen as a plight of Malaysians and not just as Indians.
The Indian community is not in need of entertainment, of which they have enough.
The millions of ringgit, the large amount of energy and the time spent on organising such huge cultural festivals like Otrumai Ponggal could be put into more beneficial activities for the community, to eradicate hardcore poverty, crime and many other ills that plague them.
The majority of Indians today are mature and wise enough to evaluate the promises of both BN and Pakatan.
The former, with 55 years in power, has failed to truly uplift the socio-economic status of the Indians to the expected level and many are doubtful whether giving them another five years is going to make any difference.
On the other hand, Pakatan may be untested but had made many promises that are heart-warming.
Whether it will and can fulfill these promises cannot be known unless given a chance to do so.