COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
Forensic investigation is great but not sufficient in addressing woes of Indians
It is great that PH chairman and the prime minister designate, Anwar Ibrahim, has given the assurance that if the opposition comes to power then it will order for a forensic audit of three Indian related establishments.
These are: Maika Holdings, the Malaysian Transformation Unit (Mitra), and the MIC’s Maju Institute for Educational Development.
Maika Holdings which was formed in the 1980s with great fanfare succumbed financial misappropriation in a matter of few years. The Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) which was subject to MACC investigations and arrests of those involved in the embezzlement of funds allocated by the government.
The MIC’s educational arm, the Maju Institute for Educational Development (MIED) for the misappropriation of funds meant for the educational needs of the poor Indians. These MIC related or Indian bodies should have been investigated immaterial of the government in power.
They should have been investigated when both BN and PH was in power. However, such investigation never took place with the exception of the MACC investigation of Mitra last year for the misappropriation of funds.
I understand that a number of persons involved in the misappropriation of Mitra funds were charged in the court.
However, whether the real culprits will be charged remains to be seen.
The involvement of politicians in the fraud cannot be dismissed.
In this sense, the need for a forensic inquiry could not have come at better time.
The investigation into the Maika Holdings scandal under then prime minister Mahathir Mohammed never took off in the first place.
The allocations of Telekom shares meant for Maika Holdings were-diverted to some other companies that had little or nothing to do with the welfare and well-being of the Indian community.
Similarly, proper and fair investigation into not just the above mentioned bodies but many other MIC related organisations such as cooperatives and others have been sacrificed to the needs of political expediency.
So much so, the Indian community has lost complete trust in organisations that were ostensibly set up to assist them. While I am supportive of Anwar on the need for a thorough forensic investigation, I am not sure whether such an investigation by itself will restore the confidence of the Indian community in the government.
PH might be well meaning than BN or PN, but government funds to assist the Indian community in the past had been pittance in comparison to the billions that were channeled to assist the Malays.
However, despite the billions given, the real beneficiaries have not been the poor Malays, but the political and bureaucratic elite under the New Economic Policy or infamously called the Never Ending Policy.
Yes, by all means call for an investigation because those who siphoned public money meant for the Indian community are still around.
They can stilll be charged and convicted if there evidence to their misdeeds. If the former prime minister Najib Tun Razak could be convicted and jailed, why shouldn’t the those responsible for embezzlement of funds meant for the Indian poor should be left alone.
Those responsible might not have stolen billions, but stealing or misappropriating few thousands or few millions public funds is a crime nonetheless.
However, investigations and actions against the individuals or groups responsible for misappropriating public funds meant for the Indian community might not dramatically lift them from grinding poverty or socio-drudgery.
It might only restore some degree of confidence in the government of the day. However, the real and fundamental cause of Indian underdevelopment would be left untouched.
As long as the government is based on ethnicity and religion in favour of the majoritarian community, the Malays, investigation or not of Indian organisations will not have a major impact on the progress of the community.
A community that has contributed so much in blood and tears don’t even get the respect and appreciation from the government that is more interested in ethnic and religious divisive policies.
PH should come to power not for the sake of power but to address and solve the myriad problems faced by Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.
How PH will be able to get out of this conditioned entrapment remains to be seen. Surely, numerically smaller and marginalised communities like Indians and others expect much more from the future PH government.
Forensic investigation might be a good start, but there remains much more that the future PH government could do especially in moving beyond the confines of ethnicity and religion.