Kuala Lumpur – As the GE-14 is fast approaching, the Pakatan Harapan coalition seems to be still in a struggle to identify the right political partnership when comes to the Indian voters. There seems to be a disconnect between Pakatan Harapan and Indian voters and at the end of the day, Pakatan leadership may decide to stick on with DAP and PKR to fill the Indian void.
DAP and PKR as multi-racial parties have strong Indian representation in Parliament. In fact, the number of opposition Indian MPs outnumber that of Barisan Nasional (BN) parties including MIC. Indian representation in opposition coalition was not an issue when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was leading the opposition in 2013 general election.
Anwar was clear in his political stand that there shall be no parties within Pakatan Rakyat (as the opposition coalition was known then) along racial lines.
Now, with Mahathir leading the opposition the political scenario has drastically changed. With a strong presence of Malay parties such as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and Parti Amanah and Chinese dominated DAP, naturally, questions have been raised as to “where is the Indian representation”.
Even lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan, a staunch supporter of the opposition, voiced her concerns recently on the lack of Indian leadership representation in Pakatan.
Such concerns led to the appointment of DAP MP M.Kulasegaran as the Vice President of Pakatan Harapan. But calls for a strong Indian representation through an Indian based political party are still echoed.
On the 17th of August this year, Hindraf leader P.Waythamurthy met Pakatan head Tun Mahathir to discuss the possibility of Hindraf joining the Pakatan Harapan coalition. Mahathir later announced that he is yet to receive an official application from Hindraf to join Pakatan.
At the same time, Pakatan leaders are said to be reluctant to admit Hindraf into Pakatan as they fear a backlash from Malay voters due Hindraf’s religious centric activities.
Indian votes might be important but GE-14 is all about “who gets the highest percentage of votes from the Malays”. Therefore Pakatan may not take the risk of admitting Hindraf as an official coalition but may instead offer Hindraf leader Waythamurthy an opportunity to contest under a Pakatan ticket in GE-14.
The Indian leaders in DAP and PKR are also said to be unhappy about Hindraf joining Pakatan as such a move may take the glitter away from them. On several occasions, DAP leaders such Charles Santiago , Penang’s Deputy CM have publicly criticised and condemned Waythamurthy and Hindraf.
On the 9th of November 2017, Indian based New Gen party under the leadership of A.Rajaretinam met Tun Mahathir, expressing their interest to join as the 5th coalition party of Pakatan.
Although Rajaretinam is a noted Indian NGO activist, whether he and his party would be able to garner sufficient Indian votes politically to help Pakatan in GE-14 is doubtful.
As of now, there is no Indian based political party that has the political structure and support from the Indian community to fill the “Indian void” in Pakatan and that may result in loss of crucial Indian votes for Pakatan in some parliament seats in GE-14.