Indians in Malaysia suffer same fate as Gatco settlers.
1. The government recently announced the Malaysian Indian Blueprint to purportedly solve the problems faced by the Indian community. However Gatco settlers are left to fight the authorities and the Company claiming the right over the peoples`s land. About two weeks ago many of the settlers some of whom were between fifty and seventy years old were remanded for three days by the police unnecessarily more to punish them rather than for investigation purposes. The police could have released all of them on police bail after taking their statements. But they were treated like common criminals. Again Indian Malaysians are kicked around like football.
2. The Gatco problem has been going on since 1983. In about 1978 the people bought their lands by paying about RM7000 each. Sugar cane was planted and the people were supposed to be enjoying the returns but till to date they have been chased out, beaten, bullied and they are still suffering. No one seems to be able to help them. They have approached the then Mentri Besar and the present Menteri Besar. The also approached MIC and Samy Vellu but all attempts to save their lands has failed. They protested in front of the Prime Minister`s office but that that too has failed.
3. This is why we are always suspicious of blueprints by the government. The government is not serious. So it is true that the blueprint is an election gimmick. All the monies the government is giving to the Indian community is an eyewash. No one really cares about us. Otherwise why are the Gatco settlers still suffering. The Gatco settlers have been faithfully voting for the Barisan Nasional (BN) for so many years. That is their right to vote for whoever they want but the question remains as to why the people who had faithfully voted for BN are treated like criminals. This is why we say the MIC is useless.
4. We do not need UMNO to give the Indians problems. We Indians give our own Indian people problems. The Company the Gatco settlers are fighting is an Indian Company. Why is this Indian owned Company giving the settlers a hard time including being beaten up by gangsters and being arrested by the police? When will their suffering end for they have endured hardship for more than thirty years. Indian companies should be more sympathetic to their very own race. How can we tolerate when old people are beaten up by gangsters and arrested and remanded by the police in lock ups?
5. The Indians contributed so much to the development of this country and yet they are treated like dogs. Felda settlers are given so much of attention where even when felda makes loses the Prime Minister pays them money and writes off their loans. Gatco is not the only case. The Temiang estate near Seremban is also a pathetic case where about 160 Indian families bought 10,000 square feet of land each in 1972. An Indian company promised all of them that small bungalows will be built. The people took loans to pay the company and in the end after so many years what they got were low cost houses very cheaply built on about 1500 sq.ft. What happened to their remaining 8500 sq ft?
6. Indians in Malaysia are a very tolerant lot. No matter how much they are abused and misused they have been largely faithful to the BN government. Hindraf came and managed to change their mindset. Whatever good Hindraf did is now not enough. We need permanent mindset changes. Indians must realise that being a minority community we will always be overlooked. That is a fact of life. The tragedy is our own community leaders claiming to represent and defend our rights will always play us out and that is what has been happening for the past many many years.
7. The 14th General Elections is coming soon. We Indians need just one main reason not to vote for BN. The ill treatment of Gatco Indians is one reason enough for us to reject BN. I will not be worried whether Pakatan Harapan (PH) will take care of us. For me the devil which has caused my community so much of problems must be voted out of power first. To vote a government out of power is a valid and legal democratic exercise. Indians must exercise this right. If Indians can continue to get what they are getting under PH state governments in Selangor and Penang, that is good enough compared with what we have not been getting under the BN Federal government for the past sixty years since independence.
8. About five estates comprising almost three hundred families in Bukit Tagar, Selangor will soon be chased out of their houses without alternative housing and without just compensation. For years the beleaguered community has been chased out of estates where they have toiled and worked for generations since pre merdeka in the name of development. We are not against sustainable development but the transition must be fair and proper, It is unjust to just chase out the estate workers suddenly branding them as squatters overnight. This is the plight of Indians all over the country for years and yet there are selfish Indians who vote for BN at every elections just because of personal greed and self interest. Why not once and for all we Indians teach the BN a lesson they will never forget. And the best legal way is to vote them out of Federal power.
9. When the General Election comes, BN will do what they know best, that is give out goody bags, money ,rice bags and cheap hampers. There will be carnivals and grand shows. In Cameron Highlands last week they brought in a joker known as Leonie as a big show as though Leonie can solve the Indian problems like Gatco. Indians must not fall for these kind of cheap treats. Even if you must attend these cheap shows for free do not give your precious vote to BN. It is an insult to Indians that they (BN) expect us to vote for them by having such Leonie shows. We must demand for our rights instead. We must demand for the rights of Gatco people. We cannot take things for granted that the tragedy that befell the Gatco prople will not fall on our families next time. Swami Vivekananda once said, `He who lives for others alone lives, the rest are more dead than alive`.
10. So rise up my fellow Indians and show BN that we are not fools. The sixteenth American president, Abraham Lincoln said,`you can fool some people some of the times and fool some people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time`. The Indian Malaysian people have been fooled all the time since independence and the latest gimmick is the Malaysian Indian Blueprint. If Indians continue to give support to BN which cannot even solve the Gatco people`s problem for more than thirty years why then vote for them. Indians must remember that they can be the decider voters in about fifty four Parliamentary constituencies out of the two hundred and twenty two constituencies. In other words we can influence or control the outcome in almost one quater of our Parliamentary constituencies. We have been foolishly giving our votes blindly to BN which cant even solve Gatco problem not to mention the so many other problems the community is facing. Let us learn our lesson and vote wisely in the coming General elections for the sake of our children and future generations.
Former Member of Parliament