Friday, October 31, 2008

Indians Need a Sense of Belonging

From my observation over the last eight months since taking office as deputy minister, I realise that Malaysian Indians do not have a sense of belonging towards the government of the day, in this case the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). We used to feel that we belonged to the BN, but this is not the case anymore. This is not because the community has changed it's mind overnight or that it has been influenced by the Opposition.
It has more to do in the way in which the BN has operated in the last decade or so. BN leaders at their meetings do not sense this because the comradeship is strong. The feeling of belonging is even stronger at this level. Meetings are conducted in an open manner. Leaders are more open minded when issues are discussed. There is no Indian, Malay or Chinese distinction. That is good and well.
But if one is to go down further, the spirit of togetherness deteriotes. The case in point is the civil sector. When an Indian walks into a government office, immediately he or she gets hostile based on the surroundings. Whatever the leaders are promoting gets lost down the line. The spirit of togetherness, that we are all Malaysian regardless of race and religion, is lost at government offices. All we see is that the offices of public service being dominated by a single race.
This results in Indians and other races to feel detached from the government. The sense of belonging is lost. Whatever, we do outside as politicians, whatever we promote, whatever slogans we come-up with becomes totally useless. When a person, may he be Indian, Chinese or any other race walks into a government office, he or she should feel welcome. The person must feel that he or she had walked into a place that could offer help. The feeling that their problems would be solved must be there.
As a first step to remedy the situation, I suggest that each govenment department has a director or deputy director who is an Indian. This way, even if the lower rung staff are unable to offer sincere help, Indians can always look up to the said director or deputy director to solve their woes. This would also enable the government to have a true picture of Indians on the ground. These directors or deputy directors would be able to bring-up problems and issues confronting Indians at the department level and higher-up.
It could also be part of the government to increase Indian participation in the civil sector, especially in the higher category. Creating the post of director or deputy director at important government departments would not be a huge task for the powers that be and the cost mininal. But the returns would be huge, in this case, the support of Indians, which deserted the ruling coalition at the March 8 General Election, as they would feel that they belong to the system.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Deepavali Is Over and It's Back To Work

First and foremost, let me say that the DPM's visit to Brickfields the other day was a success. He promised to look into the problem of Indians without birth certs and ICs. Najib also promised to look into the grouses of the Indian community, which he admitted had several unresolved problems. I look at this development in a positive manner, since it came from a man who is going to be Prime Minister in March. He has also taken interest to our suggestion that Brickfields be developed into a Little India. The cabinet has given approval for this to take-off.
On another front, Deepavali is over and it is back to work. There is lots to be done. Not only in my Ministry but also in the MIC. Will blog soon. Take care and be safe on the roads please.