The 3-day “retreat” for MIC leaders which concluded yesterday (1st May 2017) in AIMST University was timely and long overdue.
For the past few years the party has been embroiled in a leadership tussle, which resulted in animosity between divisional and branch leaders. So, such a retreat would have been unimaginable a couple of months back. As of last year MIC President Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam successfully managed to negotiate and convince key leaders of warring factions to return to the party and now it is time to unite and bring them together under one roof.
There were also several other convincing reasons to bring the division leaders together for mutual discussions and stock-taking and topping the list were Malaysian Indian Blue Print (MIB) and the forthcoming GE-14.
Opposition missed the opportunity to tackle Indian voters
It must be admitted that the MIC and Barisan Nasional are in great form to tackle the Indian voters in GE-14. The opposition leaders in their rhetoric on 1MDB and other national issues seems to have overlooked the need to mobilise the Indian voters.
Despite having 2 states, (Penang and Selangor) under their rule, which have substantial Indian voters, the opposition bloc Pakatan Rakyat missed the opportunity to engage with the Indian community in these 2 states and elsewhere to convince them why they should vote for Pakatan Rakyat bloc in GE-14.
For example in Penang, Deputy Chief Minister Prof Ramasamy’s divisive approach and the manner he criticised one part of the Tamil Community in tackling the “golden chariot” issue clearly found the wrath of Indian-Hindu community in Penang and elsewhere. A whopping 3 million ringgit spent on the golden chariot alone did not impress the Indian community either, which was facing more pressing social issues.
BN & MIC : how they wooed the Indian voters
At the MIC Retreat, former President S.Samy Vellu was honoured for his contributions in establishing AIMST University
In contrast, the Prime Minister continued to address the real pressing issues faced by the Indian community and took a personal interest in finding solutions for their problems. Indian NGOs were directly approached by the PM’s department instead of using MIC and other Indian political parties as conduits. SEDIC, the special unit set up directly under the PM’s department disbursed millions of ringgit to the Indian NGOs, helping them to spearhead various community projects.
Another special unit on Tamil Schools set up in PM’s department also addressed the needs of Tamil Schools and identified new locations for potential Tamil Schools and relocation of Tamil Schools with poor student intake. Just a few years ago the Indian community was concerned about the dwindling numbers of Tamil Schools and students and there were cries to uphold the Tamil School education, but today the Indian community is dumbfounded when they actually see the number of Tamil Schools going up by six to 530, a significant number, when you look at the past history of Tamil Schools in the country.
The economic needs of the Indian community were addressed through SEED, another unit formed under the PM’s department for small and medium Indian entrepreneurs, which concentrated on disbursing loans through TEKUN and other schemes.
Above all, there was the Cabinet Committee on Indian affairs chaired by the Prime Minister himself which had “Special Implementation Task Force” (SITF) headed by MIC President Dr Subra. SITF over the years went around the country solving problems faced by thousands of Indians on documentations relating to IC, Citizenship and Birth Certificate applications.
Such moves made Prime Minister Najib proudly declare when presenting MIB on 23rd April that “I am the only Prime Minister since independence to have chaired a Cabinet Committee on Indian affairs”.
Malaysian Indian Blue Print – unlike previous documents…
The Final onslaught by BN and MIC to pull the Indian voters on their side came in the form of Malaysian Indian Blue Print (MIB) which was presented on the 23rd of April 2017.
The Opposition as usual criticized MIB as “mere election gimmick” and “just a piece of paper” and that it is one of the “run-of-the-mill promises”.
They were clearly wrong! There were stark contrasts between MIC’s proposals in the past and what was presented as MIB. In the past, MIC will prepare a proposal on its own and submit it to the government but this is the first time MIC has worked hand-in-hand with the PM’s department to formulate a policy document for Indians. It doesn’t end there!
MIC Retreat’s events included a tour of the AIMST University and it’s world class facilities – instilling pride in participants that AIMST was the result of the efforts of MIC and its former President Samy Vellu…
A special implementation Executive Council has been formed by the PM to be chaired by Dr Subra himself. The PM also declared that together with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi he would personally oversee the implementation of MIB, and further announced that the top civil servant Tan Sri Ali Hamzah would be also involved in the implementation of MIB.
Najib even quipped: “If there are any issues in the implementation process you can even tell Ali Hamzah in Tamil. This is the first time the top 3 Malaysian Civil Servants can converse well in Tamil”.
Najib was referring to Tan Sri Ali Hamzah (Chief Secretary), Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (Secretary General of Finance Ministry) and Dato Subromaniam (Director General of Customs).
All such moves of Najib has put the opposition in a fix. Since 2008, having ruled two key states over a period of 9 years, the opposition was not able to come up with a single, convincing document on plans or proposals to help the Indian community.
Now, we can see why the MIC retreat was timely!
Will the Indian voters respond?
Armed with MIB and a host of government schemes to help the Indian community, coupled with aid for Tamil schools, MIC is now better equipped and prepared to face the Indian voters confidently.
The MIC retreat also had all the ingredients to fire-up the participants. Dr Subra officially opened the retreat in the afternoon on Saturday 29th April and immediately flew back to KL to attend the Literary and Cultural awards function in Petaling Jaya in the evening organized by “Magaram” Association.
However, the next day morning (Sunday 30 April) he was back in AIMST, Sungei Petani, joining the retreat participants for a YOGA session. He stayed with them for the next two days participating in a series of events held in conjunction with the retreat, which included a dinner function with former President and Founder of AIMST Datuk Seri Utama, S.Samy Vellu.
Having the retreat in AIMST also made the event more meaningful as the University stands tall as one single masterpiece contribution of MIC for the Indian community and the nation as a whole in terms of education.
It is now the turn of Malaysian Indian voters to reciprocate the MIC, Barisan Nasional and the Prime Minister at the forthcoming GE-14!