ADUN SPEAKS | MIC president Dr S Subramaniam, the supposed leader of the Malaysian Indian community, cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time.
When he was asked by the press about Dr Mahathir Mohamad's pledge to assist the Indian community if he became the prime minister again, Subramaniam brushed it aside. He replied that it was too late for Mahathir to make any promises because the former prime minister had his chance once but he blew it.
I might tend to agree with Subramaniam about Mahathir, provided that he factors in the role of his mentor and former MIC president S Samy Vellu.
Yes, Mahathir, as the former prime minister has to shoulder the blame, not just for ignoring the Indian community but also for weakening democratic institutions in the country.
Despite the initial euphoria, the Indian community was worst hit because Mahathir prioritised the bumiputera agenda to the exclusion of other communities, like the Indians.
During Mahathir’s tenure in office, the leader of the Indian community was none other than Samy Vellu (photo), who is now the country's special envoy to South Asian countries.
Perhaps Subramaniam should not be selective in his statements. He should also have commented about Samy Vellu, as to why he was unable to bring progress to the Indian community, which is a marginalised sub-segment of the Malaysian population.
I still remember when Mahathir was in office; it was none other that Samy Vellu who heaped praises on him as the best prime minister and best leader for all the communities in Malaysia.
In one of my meetings with Samy Vellu many years ago, he mentioned to me that Indians were lucky in that they had Mahathir as the prime minister of the country. He said whenever he made requests to Mahathir on behalf of the Indian community, such requests would be favourably considered.
In other words, is Subramaniam - by denying the role of Mahathir - at the same time denying what Samy Vellu had said about Mahathir? Even a few days ago, Samy Vellu said that Mahathir was a good man and a good leader.
Will he call Samy Vellu a liar?
So, is Subramaniam prepared to call Samy Vellu a "liar" for saying wrong things about Mahathir? If Subramaniam is really the protégé of Samy Vellu, then there is something truly amiss in MIC politics.
By openly criticising Mahathir, is he actually also taking Samy Vellu to task for misleading the Indian community when he was helming MIC? Or is Subramaniam distancing himself from Samy Vellu for having condoned the policies of Mahathir?
Samy Vellu might have been extremely loyal to Mahathir, but at the same time, he reduced MIC to a one-man show. Due to his dictatorial ways, he was unable to bring real and much-needed change to the Indian community.
It is not that the government did not do things for Indians, but they were handed over to the Indian community via the vehicle of MIC. If MIC squandered the golden opportunities, should Mahathir be blamed? In fact, Mahathir should be blamed for trusting MIC too much!
Even if we blame Mahathir for not doing enough for the Indians, I would like to know what happened to the lands, shares and others that were distributed to the Indian community via the MIC?
Surely, to this day, Samy Vellu has not given any explanation as what happened to the Telekom shares allocated by the government. Who hijacked the shares - Mahathir or Samy Vellu? Are the lands allocated for putting up educational institutions for Indian children still in the hands of the Indian community or have they been sold to private interests?
Yes, you can blame Mahathir for the citizenship woes of the Indian community, but the problem is yet to be resolved by the administration of Najib. In other words, is Subramaniam is admitting that there is no difference between Samy Vellu and him in not tackling the persistent problem of nearly 300,000 Indians who have been denied citizenship?
I would like to advise Subramaniam to look at himself and other MIC leaders who have miserably failed the Indian community. Don't point fingers at others, because MIC under your mentor Samy Vellu, and now under you, has to shoulder a big share of the blame!
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and the state assemblyperson for Perai.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.