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ADUN SPEAKS | Maika, Mitra probes won't fully address Indian woes

ADUN SPEAKS | It is great that Pakatan Harapan chairperson and prime minister-designate, Anwar Ibrahim, has assured that if the opposition comes to power, it will order a forensic audit of three Indian-related establishments.

These are Maika Holdings, the Malaysian Transformation Unit (Mitra), and the MIC’s Maju Institute for Educational Development (MIED).

Maika Holdings, formed in the 1980s with great fanfare, succumbed to financial misappropriation in a matter of years.

Mitra was subject to MACC investigations and arrests of those involved in the embezzlement of funds allocated by the government.

MIC’s educational arm MIED saw the misappropriation of funds meant for the educational needs of the poor Indians.

These MIC-related or Indian bodies should have been investigated immaterial of the government in power.

They should have been investigated when both BN and Harapan were in power.

However, such investigations never took place with the exception of the MACC investigation of Mitra last year for the misappropriation of funds.

I understand a number of persons involved in the misappropriation of Mitra funds were charged in court. However, whether the real culprits will be charged remains to be seen.

The involvement of politicians in fraud cannot be dismissed. In this sense, the need for a forensic inquiry could not have come at a better time.

Investigations failed to lift off

The investigation into the Maika Holdings scandal under then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad never took off in the first place.

The allocations of Telekom shares meant for Maika Holdings were diverted to some other companies that had little or nothing to do with the welfare and well-being of the Indian community.

Similarly, a proper and fair investigation into not just the above-mentioned bodies but many other MIC-related organisations such as cooperatives and others was sacrificed to the needs of political expediency.

So much so that the Indian community has lost complete trust in organisations that were ostensibly set up to assist them.

While I am supportive of Anwar on the need for a thorough forensic investigation, I am not sure whether such an investigation by itself will restore the confidence of the Indian community in the government.

Harapan might be more well-meaning than BN or Perikatan Nasional (PN), but government funds to assist the Indian community in the past had been a pittance in comparison to the billions that were channelled to assist the Malays.

However, despite the billions given, the real beneficiaries have not been the poor Malays, but the political and bureaucratic elite under the New Economic Policy or infamously called the “Never Ending Policy”.

Yes, by all means, call for an investigation because those who siphoned public money meant for the Indian community are still around.

They can still be charged and convicted if there is evidence of their misdeeds.

If former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak could be convicted and jailed, why should those responsible for the embezzlement of funds meant for the Indian poor be left alone?

Those responsible might not have stolen billions, but stealing or misappropriating a few thousand or a few million of public funds is a crime nonetheless.

Poverty will remain

However, investigations and actions against the individuals or groups responsible for misappropriating public funds meant for the Indian community might not dramatically lift the group from grinding poverty or socio-drudgery.

It might only restore some degree of confidence in the government of the day.

However, the real and fundamental cause of Indian underdevelopment would be left untouched.

As long as the government is based on ethnicity and religion in favour of the majoritarian community, the Malays, investigation or not of Indian organisations will not have a major impact on the progress of the community.

A community that has contributed so much in blood and tears doesn’t even get respect and appreciation from a government that is more interested in ethnically and religiously divisive policies.

Harapan should come to power, not for the sake of power, but to address and solve the myriad problems faced by Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

How Harapan will be able to get out of this conditioned entrapment remains to be seen.

Surely, numerically smaller and marginalised communities like Indians and others expect much more from the future Harapan government.

Forensic investigations of the MIC-related bodies might be a good start, but there remains much power that the future Harapan government could exercise especially in moving beyond the confines of ethnicity and religion.

P RAMASAMY is the Perai assemblyperson and Penang deputy chief minister II.

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

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