I came across an article posted by Datuk M. Saravanan, who is the Deputy Federal Territory Minister and also Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) Information Chief, titled ‘Indians need a sense of belonging’. My immediate impression was positive in nature, and it got me wondering if this chap had just received a stunning revelation from Abraham Maslow. But it was not to be. I had merely hoped against hope.
Below are some extracted paragraphs from his post, which could be accessed at http://msaravanan68.blogspot.com/2008/10/indians-need-sense-of-belonging.html.
“From my observation over the last eight months since taking office as deputy minister, I realise that Malaysian Indians do not have a sense of belonging towards the government of the day, in this case the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). We used to feel that we belonged to the BN, but this is not the case anymore.”
“It has more to do in the way in which the BN has operated in the last decade or so. BN leaders at their meetings do not sense this because the comradeship is strong. The feeling of belonging is even stronger at this level. Meetings are conducted in an open manner. Leaders are more open-minded when issues are discussed. There is no Indian, Malay or Chinese distinction. That is good and well. But if one is to go down further, the spirit of togetherness deteriorates. The case in point is the civil sector. When an Indian walks into a government office, immediately he or she gets hostile based on the surroundings. Whatever the leaders are promoting gets lost down the line. The spirit of togetherness, that we are all Malaysian regardless of race and religion, is lost at government offices.”
“As a first step to remedy the situation, I suggest that each government department has a director or deputy director who is an Indian. This way, even if the lower rung staff are unable to offer sincere help, Indians can always look up to the said director or deputy director to solve their woes. These directors or deputy directors would be able to bring-up problems and issues confronting Indians at the department level and higher-up.” –Datuk M. Saravanan.
Basically, he is trying to signal that leadership crisis, with regards to racism, does not exist in UMNO. In fact, it probably remains a jargon to those who walk along the corridors of power. He believes that all is well and fine as far as the leaders are concerned, and that the problem lies with the lower rungs, particularly the civil sector and government offices. To address this, he suggests that each government department has a director or deputy director who is an Indian, so that Indians can look up to them to solve their issues.
Note: I have just sent an e-mail of my response below, to Deputy Minister Datuk Saravanan. For those who share my view and find his piece of article insulting, do send him your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would start with touching on your claim that the comradeship is strong among the leaders, and that there is no distinction among the various races, before moving on to lambast you on your almost ignorant and equally silly suggestion. I would not go back as far as Mahathir’s premiership, but instead cite instances during Abdullah Badawi’s tenure as Prime Minister. Hishamuddin’s antics at the 2006 UMNO General Assembly which irked the Chinese, alone, are sufficient to contradict your statement about the existence of a strong sense of belonging at the top level. What about the youth wing of UMNO exerting pressure upon Gerakan by issuing them an ultimatum to clarify the issue surrounding S.Paranjothy’s statement, in which he claimed that Indians were being treated as 4th class citizens? Dr. Koh himself was quoted as saying that UMNO should not threaten Gerakan. Is this the type of comradeship you are talking about? Datuk, I understand that by painting a rosy picture of UMNO, it would surely elevate your chances of climbing up the ministerial ladder, and subsequently be promoted to the rank of a Minister. But as much as you would like to believe, we Indians, aren’t that much a bunch of fools.
Now, moving on to your classic suggestion of appointing an Indian director, or deputy director, at each government department to resolve this issue. I am an Indian, and I am proud of my roots, but I find your suggestion downright ridiculous. I would like you, Datuk Saravanan, to read up a quote from one whom I consider a true Malaysian at heart and hopefully, with God’s grace, learn a thing or two from him.
“My name is Haris Ibrahim. Trained in the law. Late father was Malay and my mum is Ceylonese. I am Malaysian. My ethnic background is relevant in helping me to understand my cultural make-up but is irrelevant in defining my status as a citizen of
The very act of appointing an Indian director at every government department is an act of racism, and this is exactly what MIC is promoting. Why must an Indian turn towards another Indian for help? Divide and rule is the tenet of Barisan Nasional’s strategy, and this surely, has to be buried. We, the Indians, and I’m sure the others too, want a
by Argus Eye.
also published in Malaysiakini at http://malaysiakini.com/letters/93310