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Obama’s historic win in the Democratic Iowa Caucus raising hopes that there can be a black American President in white-majority United States should give spur to the drive in Malaysia for greater equality and to end marginalization of Malaysian Indians and all other marginalized groups

Speech on “Marginalisation of Malaysian Indians” forum (2)          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Ayer Tawar, Saturday): In the 21st century of globalization and information/communications technologies, Malaysians and their leaders cannot continue to live like frogs in the well.

When Hindraf leaders sought the understanding and support of political leaders in India about the plight of Malaysian Indians, they were labeled as anti-national, disloyal and traitors of the country.

But now, the MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu is on a extended trip to India on precisely the same purpose – although with very little results, but he has not been condemned as being anti-national, disloyal or traitors to the country.

If Malaysian leaders do not want to be “frogs in the well”, they must be sensitive to the fast-changing global developments and world opinion.

The continued marginalization of the Malaysian Indians will become an international issue, even more so for the Indian diaspora with a population close to Malaysia’s population – over 20 million.

The eyes of the world are on two awakening giants and they are both in Asia – China and India. The Indian company, Tata, for instance, is poised to take control of the British icons, Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, and within the next decade, India will become a bigger economy than the UK, the first Commonwealth country to do so.

Within about 30 years, India’s population will pass China’s. There are analysts like those in Goldman Sachs who believe that 20 years from now, India will be growing faster than China.

It is important that Malaysians are made fully aware that the country will only perish if we continue with the “frog in the well” mentality and that the country can only prosper if it is fully plugged into the highly-competitive international economy and environment.

In our ever-shrinking global village, what we do in Malaysia must be able to withstand national and international scrutiny while what is happening in any part of the world could have an impact in the country.

Yesterday, political history was made at the other side of the world when a black American, Barack Obama, created an upset and won the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus, demonstrating that white Americans are prepared to elect a black president.

The demographic breakdown in the United States are whites 81.7%, blacks 12.9%, Asians 4.2%, Americanindians/Alaskans 1%, native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders 0.2%.

Obama’s historic win in the Democratic Iowa Caucus which raises hopes that there can be a black American President in white-majority United States should give spur to the drive in Malaysia for greater equality and an end to marginalization of Malaysian Indians and all other marginalized groups.

We are not talking about a Malaysian Indian becoming Prime Minister. If Obama can emerge as the first black American hopeful to be elected President although blacks only constitute 12.9 per cent of the population, there is no reason why Malaysian Indians cannot ask why their sole Indian Cabinet Minister is stuck in the portfolio of Works or Energy for close to three decades and why other heavyweight Ministries like Education, Finance, Internal Security or Defence should not be available as well!

The marginalization of the Indians in Malaysia must not be allowed to be seen as an Indian problem. It must be regarded as a Malaysian national problem, together with the marginalization of all other marginalized groups, whether Kadazan-Dusun-Murut in Sabah, Iban and the indigenous peoples in Sarawak, Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia, or the poor and marginalized Malays and Chinese in the country.

In the past 50 years, the Malaysian Indian voters had been regarded as a very safe vote-bank for the Barisan Nasional, but a sea-change has taken place in Malaysian politics where the Indian voters are no more certain votes for the BN.

Just as China and India are awakening giants in the global arena, the Indian voters are awakening to play their historic role in the next general election as
“king makers” in 50 Parliamentary and 133 State Assembly seats where they have more than 10 per cent of the electorate.

The least the Malaysian Indian voters could and should do is to be the critical force to ensure that the Barisan Nasional is denied its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority, which will be the first step to bring the Barisan Nasional “down to earth” and usher in a genuine democratic change never seen or experienced before in the nation’s 50-year history.


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

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