Thursday, July 12, 2012

THE SUN: Kamalanathan: We're in this together

Posted on 12 July 2012 - 05:26am
Zakiah Koya

MIC’s P. Kamalanathan, 46, came to the fore of local politics when he stood as a candidate in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election in April 2010 and won. He speaks to ZAKIAH KOYA on issues plaguing MIC and the Indian community.


Do you think MIC is still relevant in Barisan Nasional?

Very, we (BN) are all in it together. Umno is the bigger brother, but it gives us enough room to voice our thoughts. In any movement, it is better to yearn for more but there are only 240 seats; it is unfair for us to ask more. We must remember that there is no Indian-majority-vote area.

What about other Indian-based parties in BN? Are they speaking up for Indians?

Not a threat. We may have different ideologies, but we should focus on the welfare of the Indian community.

►EDUCATION ISSUES

Why does MIC focus on Tamil schools only during elections?

We have more than 500 Tamil schools and all schools want to be upgraded at the same time and that is just not possible. They (Tamil schools) think elections are the best time to ask (for assistance). The prime minister promised a Tamil school in Serendah during the 2010 by-election and had recently given RM3.5 million for one.

Why are Tamil schools so important to MIC? You yourself come from a national school and the majority of Indians are in national schools.

Tamil schools are part and parcel of Indian culture – they go to Tamil schools not only to learn Tamil, but also to learn culture and religion. If Tamil schools go away, then tradition and culture will also go.

►DEMOLITION OF TEMPLES

Do you think the temple issue has been politicised?

Temples are a live wire. MIC has encouraged people not to build temples on land that does not belong to them.
During 2008 elections, the Selangor government said that they would not demolish any more temples, but they have demolished a good number of temples since then. This is what we call politicising temples.

►INDIAN YOUTHS

How is MIC helping Indian youths?

In my constituency, we identified 240 Indian youths and sent them to a college offering courses such as grass cutting, wiring, etc. At the end of the training, we bought them the equipment so that they can start their own business – so we have gone to that extent – we train and equip.

Why are young professionals shying away from MIC?

They don’t see MIC as a fun party – the president has plans to rejuvenate the party with younger representation – we have also Putra MIC for the youths. The young must be patient – MIC has only four parliamentary seats and seven state seats.

Is the concept of catering to only one race not attractive?

Yes and no. But only in MIC one can write, speak and talk in Tamil – but even for non-Tamil speakers, they are not left out as some of the meetings are conducted in English and Bahasa.

►BRIDGING THE GAP

The richest are Indians, the poorest are Indians, what is MIC doing to cut the gap?

We must create more middle class – most middle class are entrepreneurs and in business. Although the government has taken initiatives, it is not enough, some of the rules have to be relaxed such as the payment scheme and guidance.

What about breaking poverty cycles in estates?

We need to relocate the estate dwellers to areas such as agriculture which they are good in and provide help.

Are crime rates among Indians as high as reported?

It is not alarming. I don’t think it is true that the percentage of crime rate among Indians is as high as reported but MIC is working with the police to educate the Indians.

►LOOMING GENERAL ELECTION

How has MIC been preparing for the next general election (GE), especially after the bitter defeat in 2008?

MIC has stressed that we must win back what we lost and retain those we won. We are doing everything that we can to get the numbers we had in 2004, we know it is difficult, it may not be possible.

Compared with his predecessor (Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu), MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is not much in the news.

You cannot compare the two leaders. It is not easy to take up the leadership at this time especially after the bad showing in the 2008 election. His style of working is different. We are reported in the Tamil papers. Yes, it is not enough, and we have also put MIC TV available on YouTube and are also communicating with urban Tamils.

What issues will MIC address come next GE?

Social welfare. In Hulu Selangor alone, we have resolved over 200 cases of statelessness in the last two years. Also the issues of Tamil schools and matriculation seats. The government had said they have given 1,500 places, the Indians want to see if it for real – we are working to ensure this.

What are MIC’s criteria for electoral candidates?

Someone with a lot of energy, very open, with a lot of patience and accommodating to all races.

1 comment:

levi john said...

Anyway these kinds of election speeches are used to learn tamil. language in Malaysia.