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General election expected in March – Indian voters “kingmakers” in 28 parliamentary and 78 state assembly constituencies where they represent more than 15% of electorate

Speech at St. John’s Hall forum         
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Ipoh, Thursday): I expect the 12th general election to be held in another two months’ in March 2008.

For the whole of this year, there had been periodic speculations about general election this year as early as before the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations on August 31, then almost monthly – September, November and December.

But such speculation of early polls had only made their rounds outside the precincts of Parliament as there had never been any buzz or fizz among Members of Parliament, including Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, that general election was imminent or around the corner.

If I had been asked a week ago, I would rate the chances of the next general election being held either before or after April next year (when Anwar Ibrahim regains his civil entitlement to contest in the general election) as 50-50.

There was however a quantum development in the political scenario in the past few days, when for the first time in the current term of MPs, the corridors of Parliament were infected by an air of expectation that MPs were seeing the end of Parliament and that they would not be gathering again as MPs of the 11th Parliament.

I would now rate the chances of the 12th national polls being held in March as 70-30.

The next general election will see a new factor in the political power equation – the role of the Malaysian Indian voters, who had always been regarded as a solid captive vote-bank by the Barisan Nasional in previous general elections.

This is no more the case as there is an awakening of political consciousness among the Malaysian Indians, particularly at the high-handed treatment of the Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur which saw the support of 30,000 Indians from all over the country, the unjust and unconscionable handling of the “Batu Caves 31” who were denied bail and incarcerated for 13 days for the ridiculous charge of “attempted murder” of one policeman and the dismissal of the legitimate grievances of the Indian community over their long-standing marginalization as equal and rightful citizens of Malaysia.

Although there is no single parliamentary or state assembly constituency in Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute the majority of the electorate and could singly decide who would be elected the MP or State Assembly representative, Indian voters represent over ten per cent of the electorate in 62 Parliamentary constituencies and 138 State Assembly constituencies and are an important factor in determining the electoral outcome.

In 28 Parliamentary and 78 State Assembly constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia, the Indian voters are the “kingmakers” as they constitute more than 15% of the electorate and exercise a decisive influence as to who wins or loses in the constituency.

In Perak state, there are 13 Parliamentary and 27 State Assembly seats where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate, and six Parliamentary and 13 State Assembly seats where Indian voters comprise more than 15%.

The Perak constituencies with more than 15% Malaysian Indian voters are:


Sungai Siput - 22.45%
Bagan Datok - 22.36%
Ipoh Barat - 21.24%
Tapah - 19.67%
Telok Intan - 19.02%
Tanjong Malim - 17.29%

State Assembly

Buntong - 44.30%
Hutan Melintang - 30.39%
Jalong - 26.11%
Changkat Jong - 26.04%
Chenderiang - 24.95%
Sungkai - 19.76%
Jelapang - 18.60%
Behrang - 18.15%
Lintang - 18.11%
Pasir Panjang - 17.80%
Alor Pongsu - 16.89%
Aulong - 15.84%
Pantai Remis - 15.22%

The contemptuous dismissal of the legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians over their political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization was confirmed by none other than the MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in his RTM1 interview in the 60 Minit Bersama Menteri programme last night.

Samy Vellu claimed that “the government has taken measures to improve the lot of Indians and has never neglected the community”, blaming any shortfall on an “ineffective delivery system”.

This is a very poor excuse indeed, as Samy Vellu cannot run away from the fact that he had been the MIC President and sole Indian Cabinet Minister for over 28 years and he cannot just dismiss the grievances of the Malaysian Indians about their long-standing marginalization by blaming all on the “ineffective delivery system”.

Secondly, Samy Vellu was guilty of serious denial syndrome when he continued to claim that the government had never neglected the Indian community.

This is all the more shocking as Samy Vellu was present albeit as silent observer and note-taker at the two-hour special meeting between the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Indian NGOs last Friday where representatives including from Malaysian Hindu Sangam and Malaysian Indian Business Association had spoken out loud and clear about the plight of the Malaysian Indians because of government neglect and discrimination.

How can Samy Vellu go on RTM1 after the Indian NGO’s meeting with the Prime Minister to tell the nation that the Malaysian Indians had never been neglected, going against the message the Indian NGOs wanted to convey to the Prime Minister last Friday? Isn’t this a great disservice to the cause of justice and equality for the Malaysian Indians under the Malaysian sun?

The Star reported Samy Vellu as saying that “based on feedback, there were Indians who had begun questioning why the issue raised by the community had not been resolved by the Government”.

Shouldn’t Samy Vellu be grateful to the Malaysian Indians who have the courage of their convictions and citizenship to question the marginalization of the Indians?

Samy Vellu said: “There were those who questioned why their applications had not been entertained. So, I have asked the Prime Minister to give a bit more to the Indians (in development programmes) considering their history (in the country). The Prime Minister has agreed to consider this.”

Is Samy Vellu admitting to his failure and that he would not have asked the Prime Minister “to give a bit more to the Indians” if the Malaysian Indians had not demonstrated in support of the Hindraf rally on Nov. 25 to demand government attention and action on their long-standing marginalization as the new underclass in Malaysia?

And why is he asking “to give a bit more to the Indians” as if Samy Vellu must beg on behalf of the Indians, when as equal and rightful citizens of Malaysians, the Indians are entitled to ask what should be rightfully theirs and not just “crumbs” on the dining table?

The New Straits Times report on Samy Vellu’s RTM1 interview said:

On the use of the words "ethnic cleansing" by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), Samy Vellu said: "Hindraf leaders do not know the meaning of the word. This is what happened in Bosnia but it is a baseless accusation here."

If Samy Vellu is right, that the Hindraf did not know the meaning of “ethnic cleansing” when they used the term, why was it necessary to invoke the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain them indefinitely without trial?

Is Samy Vellu prepared to tell the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that the Hindraf leaders should not be detained under the ISA and should be set free immediately as they had not known the meaning of the term “ethnic cleansing”?

Generally, Samy Vellu’s RTM interview last night as reported by the press has shown that he has lost touch with the Indian ground and roots, which is why he has no credibility when he claimed “many people” who had taken part in the Hindraf demonstration had been sorry and regretted their action.

Just now, I had asked the over a thousand people gathered here - an overwhelming number had gone to Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Hindraf demonstration on Nov. 25, not over ethnic cleansing or genocide allegations but as a cry of desperation by the Indian community to the Prime Minister and the government over their long-standing marginalization – and not a single hand went up when I asked for a show of hands of those who now regret taking part in the Hindraf rally. Samy Vellu should stop feeding misinformation to the Prime Minister and the mainstream media about the long-standing and legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians to an equal place under the Malaysian sun.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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