Can Perikatan Nasional appeal to Indian voters with ex-MIC leaders on board?

It is no longer a secret that disgruntled ex-MIC leaders are en route to joining Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional (PN) ahead of the state elections.

The crossover is set to solidify PN’s goal of being a multiracial coalition.

The Bersatu hopefuls are set to join the party as associate wing members, with the ultimate goal of forming an Indian party as part of the coalition. Bersatu’s associate wing is said to currently have more than 25,000 members, comprising non-Malays.

Sources within Bersatu confirmed with Twentytwo13 that a meeting took place between several current and former MIC members, and Bersatu chairman, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, yesterday.

But can this latest political manoeuvre help the coalition shed its dominant Malay, Islamic image, primarily contributed by its strongest ally, Pas?

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director, Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk believes the move will appeal to PN’s non-Malay voters.

“Right now, the coalition is seen to be a Malay-Muslim coalition,” said Azeem.

“This gives the presumption that PN is not multiracial, despite both Bersatu and Pas having members who are not Malays and Muslims. Also, you must remember that its other coalition party, Gerakan, is a multiracial party.”

Azeem said the setting up of a new Indian party, if it materialises, will also give the community more voice and representation.

“It is important for the Indian community to be represented, as MIC has lost its influence, despite being the representative of the community for a substantial period, ever since independence,” said Azeem.

With many ex-MIC members expected to join Bersatu and the new coalition, questions are also being asked by current Bersatu associate members on whether the new additions will actually be a boon, or a bane, for the party.

“What is the point of bringing in MIC members into Bersatu and PN? They are tainted by their association with BN/Umno,” said the associate wing member who requested anonymity.

“The MIC is synonymous with disharmony, and this is not good for Bersatu. Bringing them into the party may backfire in the state elections as the Indian community had previously rejected the MIC,” he added.

The associate wing member also said that many MIC members had started sowing seeds of hatred by attacking some Indians who have been part of Bersatu since before the 15th General Election.

“How are we going to explain to our grassroots members why we need to accept them into the party?” he asked.

Indians may represent only 6.6 per cent of Malaysia’s 30.2 million citizens, but they are often regarded as the “kingmakers” during elections.

However, unlike the Malay and Bumiputera (69.9 per cent) and Chinese (22.8 per cent) citizens, Indians in the country are often forgotten once the elections are over.

Political observer Datuk B. Anbumani said the move to get more Indians to join the coalition ahead of the state elections on August 12, may be “too late”.

“It has been eight months since GE15. PN could have done more groundwork to make its coalition more appealing to non-Malays, including to Indian voters.

He said the community remained sceptical over PN due to its affiliations with Islamic party Pas.

Anbumani added that the current unity government too, appears to have not done enough for the Indian community in the last eight months in power.

“The community’s expectations of (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim are high. The community is not well represented in Parliament. They need a stronger voice,” he added.

While Anwar and the government had gotten the ball rolling through the RM100 million allocation for the community via the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra), some believe more needs to be done to solidify and address the needs of the community, as the RM100 million allocation is the same, when Mitra was first set up.

Formed in 2013, Mitra was formerly known as the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community Unit (Sedic) before it was disbanded by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018.

Tagged with: