The DAP has unveiled a 14-point plan, billed the ‘Gelang Patah Declaration', that is aimed at alleviating the socio-economic status of Indian Malaysians, a demographic whose vote is considered critical to the ruling BN's desire to retain power in the face of a determined attempt by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat to eject them.
The plan was announced in Johor Bahru yesterday on the heels of an often acrimonious debate between the more assertive activists of the minority community and opposition parties accused of slighting the dire needs of the Indian poor by subsuming them under the rubric of a general alleviation of the Malaysian poor.
The DAP's 14-point plan is integral to the Pakatan plan to ease the Indian plight, such as resolution of the problem of stateless within 100 days of a Pakatan takeover, but in some aspects it accentuates some features while adding newfangled ones for good measure:
1. To resolve the problem of the stateless Indians within 100 days of a Pakatan administration;
2. To establish a National Housing Board which will build decent and affordable housing for marginalised groups, especially for displaced Indian plantation workers;
3. To ensure that all national-type Tamil schools become fully-funded and the infrastructure of every single school is up to par with ‘sekolah kebangsaan' (national schools);
4. To invest in technical and vocational training coupled with apprenticeship programmes to provide an alternative education and career path for school dropouts from low-income Indian families;
5. To provide jobs and raise the wages of low-income Indians by implementing a-RM1,100 minimum wage scheme;
6. To increase the number of Indians in GLCs (government-linked companies), local councils, and public services;
7. To alienate land for existing Hindu temples and burial grounds and find replacement land for temples and burial grounds which have to be relocated;
8. To provide microcredit and other financial assistance schemes to Indian small businesses, with a special focus on women, youths and home-based business;
9. To put in place the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and to eliminate deaths in police custody and custodial deaths;
10. To establish a special fund to promote Indian equity ownership in the country;
11. To establish a commission to address urban poverty and social problems faced by the Indian community;
12. To establish policies that could economically enable single mothers, including house ownership scheme;
13. To establish or enroll in existing residential schools outstanding Indian students from plantation and urban poor families;
14. To abolish all anti-rakyat legislation and to get rid of discrimination.
The 14-point plan was announced to a DAP gathering at a hotel in Gelang Patah that was attended by party adviser Lim Kit Siang and senior Indian leaders led by M Kulasegaran, the Ipoh Barat MP.
Others who attended were DAP MPs Charles Santiago, Gobind Singh Deo, M Manogaran and state assemblyperson S Sivanesan.
Kulasegaran said the 14-point plan represents the commitment of the opposition to find a permanent solution to the problems faced by the Indian community.
"What the BN has done in the last four years under Prime Minister Najib Razak was to woo Indian voters with action that is ad hoc and not aimed at the deeper ailments of the community," asserted the DAP national vice-chairperson.
"Indian problems need fixes that are deeper and permanent than band-aids," remarked Kulasegaran.
"Our 14-point plan, if implemented, would root out Indian poverty root and branch," he opined.