Malaysia’s early poll talks overshadow Diwali celebrations

October 25th, 2010 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 25 (IANS) Speculations about early parliamentary polls in Malaysia have overshadowed Diwali celebrations in the country, and leaders of the Indian diaspora have been urged to hit the campaign trail.

The talks have prompted calls for unity among the country’s 2.1 million ethnic Indians, whose vote is sought by a plethora of parties, often at loggerheads.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim Monday said Diwali celebrations will be held Nov 13 in Sungai Petani in Kedah state as part of “the strategy to bring leaders closer to the people”.

The announcement followed last week’s indication by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that he might advance the parliamentary poll scheduled March 2013. Now, the speculation is that it could be held next July.

“If possible, we want leaders to visit the homes of the local residents, have tea and talk to them,” the official Bernama news agency quoted Yatim as saying.

Various cultural programmes will be organised at the Diwali celebrations, he told reporters at a Diwali carnival organised by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the country’s largest and oldest party of ethnic Indians.

MIC is part of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance.

BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor urged the political parties of ethnic Indians to work together to ensure the survival of the community in the country.

He said unity among all parties, whether individuals or groups, was essential, The Star newspaper reported Monday.

“I feel disheartened to see Indians living in palm oil estates.

“Leaders from these parties should find the root cause of problems affecting the community and not stir up trouble.

“They should sit down and discuss what needs to be done and not gear themselves up for rhetorical charm offensives,” he said at the launch of the Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party’s (MMSP) second annual general meeting Sunday.

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