Singapore, Dec 20: The Malaysian government has suffered some loss of loyalty from the country's two million ethnic Indians, according to the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S Samy Vellu.
He based his assessment on recent feedback following a protest march held by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on November 25 in Kuala Lumpur, highlighting the plight of the ethinic Indians left out of Malaysian prosperity. However, he was quick to assure that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has agreed to give more consideration to the ethnic Indians, a minority of whom still worked in plantations.
Speaking on a '60 Minutes with the Minister' programme on Radion Television Malaysia 1 (RTM1) in Kuala Lumpur last night, he also noted that most of those involved in the street demonstrations regretted their actions.
Mr Vellu, who is also the Works Minister, said he explained to the protestors that the issues they raised during the protest rally had been discussed by the Cabinet. He also assured that the government was taking steps to improve the lot of the Indians in the country.
He called the protestors as ''sightless'' for not having seen the progress made by Malaysia. He pointed out that in the olden days, 80 per cent of the ethnic Indians worked in the plantation estates, but 50 years later, many of them have become professionals and businessmen.
Mr Vellu also dismissed a Hindraf leaders' four trillion dollar compensation claim filed against the British government, as the former colonial masters brought forefathers of ethnic Indians to Malaysia as indentured labour in the 1800s but did nothing for their well being.
He said a check with lawyers showed that the British government would not be able to entertain such claims as it would set a precedent for other colonised countries to make similar cases.
Mr Vellu conceded that he was ready to step down as MIC president after leading the party for 30 years. Some people have called on him to step down for a fresh leadership that could improve ties with the ethnic Indians. Meanwhile, MIC youth leaders started a week-long nationwide tour, explaining to the ethnic Indians the political situation in Malaysia and the recently raised issues affecting the community.
''Although we know that Indians have supported the ruling coalition government, Barisan Nasional, since independence, we are not taking things for granted, especially the recent move by the opposition to use certain groups to create instability in the country,'' said MIC Youth chief SA Vigneswaran.
He said the MIC would not want the ethnic Indians to cast protest votes in the coming general election, expected next year. The November 25 protest march saw 20,000 ethnic Indians highilighting the plight of being left out of the progress Malaysia has made in the last 50 years.