ADUN SPEAKS | Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s praise of Indians cannot address years of neglect.
His recent attempts at praising the Indian community continues to baffle me. It sounds too good to be true.
I am not sure whether Najib is genuine or whether he is enticing the community to throw its support behind BN in the coming general election.
Some time back, in one of his speeches at a seminar, he was praised by some Indian leaders, particularly those from the MIC, as the "father of Indian community development".
Najib was certainly delighted to receive such praise, especially in the light of elections around the corner.
Last night, at the Economic Times Asian Business Leaders' Conclave in Kuala Lumpur, Najib was once again full of praise for the Indian Malaysian community.
I think that, to date, no Umno or BN leader outside MIC has lavished such praise on the Indian Malaysian community for their contributions to the country.
Najib said that Indian Malaysians were at the forefront of governance in the civil service, business, entertainment, education and food. Without their contribution, Malaysia would not have reached the present state of development.
He elaborated that Indian Malaysians, with their unique culture, faith and lifestyle, constituted an integral part of the rich and varied tapestry of Malaysian society.
Additionally, he said it was due to the immense contribution of Indian Malaysians that the government found it necessary to introduce the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) to spur their development further.
Due to the special position of the Indian community in the country, Malaysia has found it necessary to maintain good and amicable ties with India.
The various levels of cooperation are testimony to the enduring relationship between Malaysia and India, with even some points in common between the two countries, such as the problems faced in implementing the GST.
Najib is not that naive to simply praise the Indian Malaysian community to the heavens, something no other leader has done in the past.
Even if he has good intentions, his focus on getting the support of all the communities for BN cannot be dismissed.
He knows very well that it would be near impossible to get the support of the Chinese Malaysian community in the coming general election.
In order to win with even a simple majority, the support of Malay and Indian Malaysians, at least in the peninsula, are crucial.
Since Indian Malaysians do make a difference in about 60 electoral constituencies, he thinks that they could be roped in with the provision of some goodies.
The praise he showered on the community, in this light, is a temporary relief for Malaysian Indians, but the effect might not be long-lasting.
What Najib really has to address is why the community has been sidelined for the past 60 years or so.
The MIB might be important to address the symptoms of the problems facing the Indian Malaysian community, but it can hardly address the structural problems that stand in the way of the development of the community.
More than 60 years of deliberate and systematic neglect of the Indian Malaysians cannot merely be undone by showering them with praise, or even by dangling the MIB in front of them.
The root cause of Indian neglect lies in how politics and society are structured along racial and religious lines that favour one community at the expense of others.
Of all the leaders, Najib is one person who should have a better understanding of the reasons behind the neglect of the Indian community.
This is because the party that he heads is the prime cause of what keeps the Indian Malaysian community marginalised.
Najib cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds at the same time.
P RAMASAMY is Penang Deputy Chief Minister II and Perai state assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.