Malaysian Indian Congress to work with Barisan Nasional

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Singapore, Mar 23: Malaysia's new Human Resource Minister Dr S Subramaniam has said that his party the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), will work with the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN) despite the debacle at the general elections earlier this month. ''As far as the MIC is concerned we are very clearly with the BN.

Live or die, sink or swim, MIC stands with BN. We have been together for so many years and have the strength to go through this struggle,'' he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Dr Subramaniam, now the highest cabinet minister representing the country's two million ethnic Indian interests in the government, has also assured that he would work towards solving the unemployment problem among the local Indian community.''Through the Ministry, I plan to ensure that Indian youths get the right kind of training so that they will be in high demand in the market place,'' he assured after having been elected to the Malaysian cabinet last week.

He took over from MIC President S. Samy Vellu, who was blamed for having failed to support the ethnic Indian community in gaining from the Malaysian prosperity and lost in the polls after leading the community for over 30 years.

BN is a community-based ruling coalition since independence 51 years ago with majority Moslem Malays represented by the United Malays National Organisation and the second largest Chinese community represented by the Malaysian China Association as well as a dozen other smaller regional parties.

BN managed only 140 seats in the 222-seat parliament in the March 8 general elections while the opposition scored its first ever victory by deniying the ruling coalition a two-third majority, grabbing the remaining 82 and their right to form provincial governments in five states in Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysian political observers note a continuing battle between the BN and re-invigorated opposition with wide spread media reports about ''horse trading'' among political parties to win over or encourage deflection among elected members of parliament and state assemblies.

The opposition is led by Mr Anwar Ibrahim, who was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in the 1990s for corruption and immoral activities by former Prime Minster Mahathir Mohamad. Mr Anwar has rebounded and partly cleared his name from the alleged charges.

His multi-racial political outfit, Parti Keadilan Rakyat along with fundamentalist Parti Islam SeMalaysia and predominantly Chinese-led Democractic Action Party, has changed the Malaysian political landscape by performing beyond their ''own expectations'' in the March 8 elections, according to the observers.

BN is trying to rebuild its standing among the 27 million Malaysians, and Dr Subramaniam's assurance is among the many others being given to assure the voters. MIC candidates only won three parliamentary seats out of the nine with its President Mr Samy Vellu suffering his first defeat.


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