SPECULATION and analysis about the upcoming MIC elections in 2009 remained the focus of the Tamil press from 22 to 28 Nov 2008.
On 23 Nov, Malaysia Nanban editor MS Malaiyandi analysed the party election by answering questions from readers.
On former MIC vice-president Datuk M Muthupalaniappan’s bid to contest the MIC presidency, Malaiyandi said declaring to contest against the indomitable Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu was already a brave move. Malaiyandi predicted that Muthupalaniappan would face a tough fight.
On the MIC deputy president’s post, Malaiyandi reckoned that former MIC deputy president Datuk S Subramaniam might contest for the post. He said, in previous elections, the party leadership openly supported Datuk G Palanivel who became the deputy president. But now, Malaiyandi said, it looked like Subramaniam may get Samy Vellu’s support if he contests for the deputy’s post.
Malaiyandi also said that so far only Bukit Bintang MIC chief Datuk VKK Teagarajan had announced he would contest for the deputy presidency. Other potential candidates, including Palanivel, remained a question mark although Tamil Nesan on 25 Nov quoted MIC information chief, Datuk M Saravanan, as saying: “I will stand for deputy president if the delegates agree.” He also said he was willing to contest any top post if enough delegates supported him.
“Will Subra challenge Samy Vellu?” was one of the front-page headlines in Malaysia Nanban on 28 Nov. According to the report, Subramaniam’s supporters are pressuring him to stand against Samy Vellu in the party elections.
It was also reported that negotiations were taking place between Samy Vellu and Subramaniam. But these were inconclusive, according to the news, because Subramaniam was not offered any post and the branches which support him are still temporarily suspended. The analysis is, if Subramaniam strikes a deal and doesn’t stand against Samy Vellu, even his hardcore supporters would desert him.
The civil service
Tamil Nesan‘s 25 Nov editorial was about the need for more opportunities in the civil service for Indian Malaysians. It said, currently the civil service only comprised 3.5% Indian Malaysians. The paper said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s reminder to increase this to 7% was a timely reminder.
The editorial noted that it was disappointing that not many Indian Malaysians held top posts in government departments and in the police force. It said that after the Indian Malaysian directors and deputy directors from the past retired, not many others were given the opportunity to replace them.
Additionally, the paper said there were many outstanding Indian Malaysians who have worked many years in the civil service, but they were not promoted.
“Stateless people should not be left out,” Makkal Osai said in its 27 Nov editorial.
The paper said those who did not have birth certificates or identity cards should go to the National Registration Department offices in all major cities which will be opened seven days a week from mid-December. The editorial reminded those without official documentation to do their homework about their background so that they could justify their situation to the department.
It suggested that the department could also prepare a questionnaire to assist applicants in providing the necessary information.
On 28 Nov, Tamil Nesan quoted Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar as saying his ministry was willing to help Indian Malaysians who have problems applying for birth certificates and identity cards. However, he said, this help would only be extended to those born in Malaysia.
Assistance for Tamil schools
Makkal Osai reported on 26 Nov an announcement by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim that Tamil schools would be given six acres of land each.
Khalid was quoted as saying the state government was looking for possible land, and any new housing development in the state would be required to allocate land for Tamil schools.
According to Malaysia Nanban, there are 97 Tamil schools in Selangor with around 30,000 students, 80% of whom are from families earning less than RM1,500 a month. The paper said there were previously many Tamil schools in plantation estates, but many were abandoned or demolished after the plantations were developed for housing and other projects. The existing schools, the editorial added, were in bad shape and needed financial aid.
On 27 Nov, the paper quoted Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Prof P Ramasamy as saying: “Tamil school heads in Penang are not coming forward to receive state government financial aid.” Ramasamy said the Penang government has allocated RM15,000,000 for the development of 28 Tamil schools in the state but to date, none of the schools have applied for the aid.
Brave researchers needed
On another matter, Ramasamy lambasted Universiti Malaya’s research on Indian Malaysian issues. He said the researchers should stop wasting tax payers’ money, and instead come out with research that would develop the Indian Malaysian community.
He added that UM’s Indian Studies Department failed to understand the needs and sentiments of the community, and instead acted like “coolies”. Condemning the researchers from the department, he said they failed to do much needed research on the community’s current situation, and their continued struggle for survival.
Comparing the Indian Malaysian researchers to Chinese Malaysian researchers whom he said were bolder about demanding their rights from the government, Ramasamy said: “Be brave enough to demand your rights.” His statements were reported in Makkal Osai on 24 Nov.