Retired teacher R Surendran, 58, is the sort of Malaysian Indian voter the ruling Barisan National (BN) coalition hopes to win over ahead of the next general election.He describes himself as someone who has long been grateful for the 29 years he spent in the civil service and the monthly pension he draws.
But his outlook changed on Nov 25 last year, when the government cracked down on the organisers of a demonstration protesting against alleged discrimination against Malaysia's Indian community.
"Now, I am not sure whether I will vote for the government any more," he said.
During the demonstration, protesters were dispersed by police using water cannon and tear-gas, and five of the organisers were detained under the Internal Security Act.
The situation has calmed, but the BN now has to deal with a possible fallout at the ballot box, with a general election expected by the end of March.
Aside from making Thaipusam a holiday - a move seen as an attempt to pacify the Hindu community - the government has also set up a high-powered committee to examine ways to end hardcore poverty among all races by 2010.
The opposition is ready to make the most of any discontent among Indian voters.
"Making Thaipusam a holiday doesn't solve things," said Democratic Action Party MP M Kulasegaran.
"What about the lack of education and economic opportunities for Indians? The government should do more."
Although there are no Indian-majority constituencies, 28 of Malaysia's 219 Parliamentary seats have more than 15 per cent Indian voters and almost all currently have BN representatives.
Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said that even though Indians make up a minority of voters, they could make a difference in deciding the winner in several constituencies.
"There are at least four Parliamentary seats that the ruling coalition is in danger of losing because there is a substantial number of Indian voters,"
Wong, a researcher with the National University of Malaysia, told The Straits Times.
They are Puchong in Selangor, Batu Kawan in Penang, Rasah in Negri Sembilan and Teluk Intan in Perak.
The Indians have traditionally been supportive of the government, whereas Malay and Chinese support for the BN has tended to swing.
The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the only Indian party in the ruling coalition, is maintaining a brave front, saying it intends to turn the tide of discontent in the community before polling day.
"All MIC elected representatives have been told to intensify efforts to reach out to the people. It's time we pay even closer attention to the people's problems and explain government policies to them," party vice-president S Sothinathan told The Straits Times.
Political analyst Mr Wong said: "It will be an uphill battle for BN to win back the Indian support."
(Courtesy of www.mysinchew.com/node/6501 )
I wish to touch few points of the news,
First point is about the change of mind of long-time BN supporters.Indians were always loyal to BN since independence.But,now they're ready to change.Most of the Indians aware that HINDRAF's struggle is to win back all the rights that we lost in 50 years.And now Indians are united and ready to snub UMNO led BN goverment.Of course it does mean MIC is well.MIC is not stnding for Indians well-being,but always loyal to her UMNO boss.The blind support for BN is doesn't exist anymore,thanks to HINDRAF.Finally Malaysian Indians are awareful in politics.
The conclusion is,
MIC = Make Indians Cry.
Second point is about attempt to pacify Indians,with Public Holiday for Thaipusam,in FT.Even,a foreign press is aware of this cheap tactic,don't Malaysian Indians?
Does UMNO and gang believe that,Malaysian Indians are that fools to be fooled like this.Kula got it right,did FT Public Holiday will solve all our problems??
And formation of high-powered committee to eradicte povetry among all races.Seems like BN goverment wont admit that Indians were the worsen hit by hardcore-povetry.This shows that BN is not sincere to Indians.
So,cheap political stunts wont affect us anymore!!
Third point is about minority of Indians vote.Though we're minority voters,but we hold the trump that decide victory.Short saying,we were deciding factor for BN's win all these years.28 Parliament seats is decided by minority Indians.And strong 4 seats that require 100% Indians votes to win are Puchong,Rasah,Teluk Intan and Batu Kawan(my consituency).And we hold minimum 4 parliamentry seats in our hand,and the rest 24 seats need Indian voters to decide victories.
Time to prove our existence!!
And finally about Sothinathan's statement that,all MIC elected represantives had been told to reach the people.Where were MIC and this tight lip-locked elected represantives all this long??
Why want to reach out now??oh...Becuase election is too close......
But MIC leadership should understand that,after 25th November 2007,Indians are aware of everything and especially about MIC which make them cry.
MIC=Make Indian Cry for 50 years,after 50 years Indian will make MIC cry!!
So,coming election,Peoples Power will speak,
We can count the seats that BN will lose,
Cause Makkal Sakthi is not sell-out crowd!!
Makkal Sakthi Vellum.