Despite the use of the whole government machinery to instill fear about dire consequences, the fact that thousands of Indian Malaysians participated in the Hindraf rally on Nov 25 should be enough to awaken the national leadership from its slumber. But judging from the various statements from the prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers, chief ministers and the MIC leaders who proclaim to represent the Indian Malaysians in toto, none of them seem to have awaken to reality.
The working-class Indians, who were brought into this country by the British in the 19th and 20th centuries, were indeed the obedient and subservient type. Their history is full of untold miseries due to blatant exploitation. They could be ordered about as they were completely dependent on the masters.
Independence was supposed to give them freedom but the political parties that took control of independent Malaya/Malaysia continued to exploit the Indian Malaysian working class by treating them just as before independence. They were supposed to be thankful for everything that they "have been" and "are" given and continue to be obedient.
The slow evolution within this sector of the population is due to the many obstacles it faced including its displacement from the docile estates and its struggle to succeed as the "others" in this country. Today it has culminated in this agitation. This generation has had enough and is willing to express itself against all odds.
It is disturbing that the present government has not been sensitive to the needs of various neglected sectors of the Malaysian community due to its high reliance on cronyism that has ensured election success until now. The government's view that since it has the majority's support, it need not bother about the needs of minorities, as repeatedly mentioned by the various ministers recently. It is not only undemocratic but arrogance at its worst.
If the prime minister had called the Hindraf representatives for a dialogue when they submitted their memorandum, citing him as their leader in this country as they claim to have lost confidence in the MIC as the Indian's representative, he could have diffused the situation effectively.
Why was he not proactive? Is it due to the arrogance of the ruling elite that views non-cronies as unworthy of consideration and as "motivated by the opposition?" Or is it due to the erroneous belief that all the problems of Indian Malaysians are under the purview of the MIC and that the prime minister has nothing to do with them?
Further, MIC itself could have organised forums to discuss the problems that have been brought up time and again by many Indian Malaysian groups instead of branding them as "opponents." The MIC leader claims that he brings up Indian Malaysian problems to the cabinet but cannot speak about the issues discussed as they are "secrets"!
Are the issues and problems faced by the community a secret? Can't they be discussed for amicable solutions in the mass media, including Tamil Nesan the party's unofficial organ? Why is MIC afraid? How can you represent Indian Malaysians if you are afraid to even discuss them?
Does the MIC chief not want to hear dissenting voices from anyone in the community because as he feels that he is the sole voice of the community? And the prime minister, who has all the intelligence reports about the actual support MIC has from the Indian Malaysian community, couldn't be bothered because it is a "small" community not worthy of his time.
Cronyism in the MIC has made it irrelevant to the Indian Malaysian community. The government leaders must acknowledge it. Encouraging the formation of other Indian-based parties within BN to further "divide-and-rule" might not solve the community's problems. Rather than trying to "fix" the Hindraf leaders who had the guts to "bell the cat" against all odds, it will be prudent and wise for national leaders to do some soul searching and re-strategise to serve the various communities in this country.
While the recent agitations have brought the world's attention to the plight of the Indian Malaysian community and to discrepancies in the election process that hugely favours the incumbents, the average Malaysian citizen wants the present national leaders to show their maturity and wisdom in finding solutions rather than engage in some form of "crackdown" on opinion leaders to instill fear among the citizens.
The whole world is watching Malaysia's leadership!