Monday, February 22, 2010

MIC against direct recruitment into BN

The MIC is expected to resist the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s proposal to allow membership for friendly individuals, political parties and non-governmental organisations.

This is because, the party which boasts of 630,000 members, will lose its “monopoly” at the BN supreme council when it comes to Indian matters, in the event other Indian-based political parties are allowed in, say political pundits.

“This proposal, if it comes into effect, will definitely ensure more Indian participation in the BN. Presently, there is the veto power or the consensus system which requires all component parties to agree before an applicant is allowed into the BN.

“Once this is removed, there will be more Indian political parties coming into the BN.

“The MIC will definitely lose its dominance but it will be a boon for the Indian community as the BN leadership will be able to hear directly, the problems faced by Indians, generally from various parties, rather than just from the MIC alone,” said former MIC vice-president Tan Sri M. Mahalingam.

Last Friday, Prime Minister and BN chief Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that BN would amend its constitution to admit BN-friendly individuals, political parties and non-governmental organisations.

The 1.8 million-strong Malaysian Indian community is fragmented into various groups and the community has at least, six political parties to choose from.

The six parties are MIC, People’s Progressive Party or PPP (although multiracial, the party is predominantly made up of Indians), Indian Progressive Front (IPF), Malaysian Indian United Party (Miup), the newly-formed Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party and the proposed Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf).

Of the parties above, only the MIC and PPP are in the BN. It is an open secret that IPF’s application to join the grand coalition in the past was shot down by the MIC.

If the latest proposal is to become a reality, political observers expect IPF, Miup and Makkal Sakthi, who are all BN-friendly, to apply to join the coalition.

While inclusion of these parties will eclipse MIC dominance in the BN, it will directly increase Indian participation in the ruling coalition, which is desperate to win the hearts and minds of the now-fragmented Indian community.

At the last general election in 2008, the community deserted the BN, which it had supported over the last 50-odd years, by backing the opposition.

Out of the nine parliamentary and 19 state seats contested at the polls under the BN banner, the MIC managed to win only three parliamentary and seven state seats.

“The Indian votes are split and MIC alone cannot do the job of bringing back these votes.

The BN top leadership realises that for the coalition to succeed, it needs the backing of all communities in the country.

“What the MIC wants, is for the party leaders to decide…the BN can’t decide for all,” said Mahalingam, a former deputy minister.

Political analyst Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria feels that the BN’s move to woo those with similar ideology and providing them access to voice their grouses would be good for the coalition.

“However, the BN should be cautious in its approach of allowing members in. It should allow those who have an impact on the electorates, meaning those who have and will bring in the votes.

“Enlarging the coalition by allowing more parties to join does not mean more votes. It should pick quality alliances and weed out bogus parties,” said the former head of Yayasan Strategik Sosial, the MIC think-tank.

He said BN should only allow those who had similar political ideologies as the coalition and encourage smaller or splinter parties to consolidate or merge before joining the BN.

“So far, as I see it, these Indian parties have the same ideology. For these parties, it is more of personality conflicts which is preventing them from merging into bigger entities. Definitely, this proposal will receive some resistance from the MIC.

“It must be noted that having many splinter parties does not necessarily enhance the BN. Consolidation of political parties and opening up BN membership may be the way forward for the ruling party. Small parties from small ethnic communities do not make a big difference in votes,” he said.

- Bernama

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