Kuala Lumpur, Mar 1 : Malaysian Indians are set to play a crucial role in this year's general elections in the country, as in around 62 parliamentary and 130 state seats they comprise 10 per cent or more voters, enough to tilt results in one's favour.
Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said that Indians form a significant size of voters and the MIC's role is to bring in these voters for the BN (Barison National). "This is our commitment and duty", the New Straits Times Online quoted him as saying in an interview.
He said that the MIC has generated emotional energy in every leader to reach peak performance to win the elections with great success. "It will require discipline to keep our energy, commitment and responsibility to deliver the votes to BN. Our approaches are simple yet dynamic. The MIC has 610,000 members, of whom 85 per cent are registered voters," he added.
Asked as to how was the MIC convincing the electorate, especially Indians, to vote for BN, he said, "We tell them of our track record. Our past victories and support was possible because ordinary people acknowledged that the BN-run government served the interests of the community and brought socio-economic development for all communities. We tell Malaysian Indians that there is no alternative to the MIC and any replacement by opposition parties will not in any way protect the interests or legitimate rights of Malaysian Indians."
He said the pressing issues facing the Indian community were lack of technical skills, lack of housing facilities leading to sprouting of illegal urban squatters with poor housing and living standards, lack of educational opportunities and low level of literacy, high dependency on wage employment, employment in low wage occupations, rise in social issues such as large numbers of single mothers and dysfunctional families, alcoholism, high rate of school drop-outs, high crime rate, gangsterism and social unrest.
These are the factors that have impeded upward mobility and prevented advancement of the "underclass sections" in the Indian community from participating in the development process of the country, he said and added that various barriers have denied access and limited Indian participation in the national development process. There is also a failure at the implementation level which has resulted in the ineffectiveness of current delivery mechanisms, added Samy Vellu.
On being asked as to what the MIC had done to address these issues, he said: "We laid out several programmes for the promotion of Indians and for the socio-economic ramifications of the country. The MIC took the burden on itself and we have created a new outlook to establish an educated Indian community. When it comes to Tamil schools, in the last 20 years, MIC has rebuilt almost 100 schools with RM30 million in grants from the government and an additional RM7 million raised by the MIC."