With 10 Indian members, Malaysian parliament displays diversity

April 28th, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 28(IANS) With 10 ethnic Indians elected for the first time, Malaysia’s 12th parliament opened here Monday displaying political diversity and maturity. Indians form eight percent of Malaysia’s 28-million population. According to a post-poll study, 24 percent Malays, the indigenous people who form the majority population, 40 percent ethnic Chinese and a whopping 69 percent ethnic Indians changed their political preferences in last month’s elections.

Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that has traditionally represented the ethnic Indians lost badly in last month’s election. Its long-time chief and federal minister S. Samy Vellu failed to return to parliament on his ninth bid.

While the ethnic Indian vote was divided among many parties, the elections last month saw the emergence of the family of a long-time opposition lawmaker, Karpal Singh.

His son Gobind Singh Deo, a lawyer, would sit besides him in parliament, while another son is a state assemblyman.

Besides Gobind Singh Deo, there is another ethnic Indian first-timer R. Sivarasa, a Tamil.

Tamil Hindus form the bulk of the estimated 2.6-million Indian population.

The parliament opened a 16-day session Monday amid speculation about possible defections among its new lawmakers, the New Straits Times said.

The parliament began with many firsts - the biggest being that ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) does not enjoy a two-thirds majority in the house any more.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of former prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is the first woman Leader of the Opposition. Their daughter Noor Azizi is a first-timer who defeated a high-profile minister.

There will be a daily 30-minute live telecast of the question hour. Information Minister Shabery Cheek has promised more coverage if response remained good.

Last month’s election saw 130 women candidates across Malaysia, of which 50 won - a half of them to state legislatures. There are a record 24 women MPs, with 10 from the opposition in the house.

There is a record 99 first-time MPs.

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