Malaysian Indians moving away from opposition alliance: Report

April 6th, 2011 - 12:58 pm ICT by IANS  

S. Samy Vellu Kuala Lumpur, April 6 (IANS) Ethnic Indians in Malaysia are “drifting away” from opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and are veering back to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), a media report said.

Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethic Indians, who are eight percent of the multi-racial 28 million population.

The support of ethnic Indians was instrumental in the emergence of a strong PR in parliament and in the states in the March 2008 elections.

According to a post-poll survey, nearly 68 percent of ethnic Indians had shifted loyalties, due to grievances about jobs and education opportunities and because the government had demolished a Hindu shrine on the eve of Diwali.

The PR is headed by controversial former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and its key constituent Democratic Action Party (DAP) is led by ethnic Indian lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh.

A “fractured” leadership of Indians in PR “is trying to woo back the Indian voters, but it is too little too late”, The Star said Tuesday.

Some senior PR leaders were last week kept out of a meeting of leaders from five states with a large Indian population to discuss how the “drift” towards the BN could be arrested.

The discussion was about why Indian voters who had rallied under the PR banner in 2008 and helped Pakatan to win Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah states were drifting back to the Barisan.

Indian voters now have a choice between the “indecisive and fractured Indian leadership” in Pakatan and a “resurgent” Barisan under a reform-minded Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, aided by a Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) without former president S. Samy Vellu at the helm, the newspaper said in a commentary.

Vellu quit after 31 years as MIC chief and is now Malaysia’s special envoy to India and South Asia for promoting infrastructure projects.

Among those kept out of the meeting was M. Manoharan, leader of the Hidu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). He was jailed for organizing an anti-government rally in 2007.

Manoharan said: “I could have made many useful suggestions. I went to jail for the Indian community.”

Indian support, although a minority, had been decisive in helping Pakatan win in Perak, Kedah, and Selangor, and even in Penang, political experts said.

“Indian voter disillusionment runs deep, not just over the indecisive and fractured Pakatan Indian leadership, but also at the half-hearted measures, thus far, to resolve longstanding Indian woes,” the newspaper said.

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