....The end of MIC.
News on the launch of new political party Makkal Sakti this Saturday has raised questions among the Indian community which feels that there is a hidden agenda.
The public reaction is: Will Makkal Sakti become an alternative party or just to pressure change in MIC which had been representing the Indian community for 63 years.
Dr S Sivamurugan, political analyst at the Social Science Faculty, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) felt that Makkal Sakti should not be seen as an alternative party to MIC.
"There is no chance for another party to replace MIC. Makkal Sakti can be an alternate party to address public problems which had been overlooked by MIC," he said.
Makkal Sakti could function as a platform to get component Indian parties like the Indian Progressive Front (IPF) and People''s Progressive Party (PPP) which refused to cooperate with MIC, but still support Barisan Nasional (BN) to contribute to the community.
"Indian political parties can cooperate to help the 30 percent Indians living under the poverty line. They can help the young generation get job opportunities, educational and welfare aid," he said.
A random survey by Bernama in Jalan Brickfields and Lebuh Ampang, two popular shopping areas for Indians brought similar reaction.
"The MIC had been championing the rights of Indians for a long time but is now disliked as several leaders refused to allow change in the party.
"The anger of the Indian community is at the leadership, not the party," former teacher S.Thiagarajah, 40, said.
M.Alice, 58, hoped that the presence of a new party would make the MIC leaders and members who had been complacent in discharging their responsibility to sit up.
"They have been awakened from their sleep and now realise the importance of support from the Indians. If not, they will forget their responsibility as it is the people who put them there," she said.
Nanthini, 33, an officer with the private sector said the new party would give MIC competiiton and this was good for the party.
"MIC is the main party representing the Indian community, it should be there forever, but for a change, we also need another party (as an alternative) so that MIC will always update itself and do its best for the community," she said.
"The MIC might have done something to Indians once upon a time, maybe... but (I feel) that there is no unity in the party. This is humiliating for the Indian community.
"So if a new party can bring back all the Indians together, why not?" asked S.Tamilmagan, 28, a private sector employee.
Private college student P.Ganesh, 23, said the emergence of Makkal Sakti would make MIC leaders realise that change was needed in the party.
The Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party which will be launched on Saturday, is not only confident of winning Indian support but also securing a future for itself in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government, but not the Opposition.
Party founder and national president R. S. Thanenthirran said the three-month-old party had attracted 50,000 members and predicted that it would reach 100,000 by year-end, going by ground sentiment.
"We believe that by working closely with the present government, it would bring greater benefits to the community," he told Bernama in an interview at the party headquarters.
Thanenthirran rejected the possibility of a partnership with the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), a loose pact of Parti Keadilan, DAP and PAS, saying that PR had failed miserably in solving problems of Indians in states ruled by PKR like Penang and Selangor, and cited the Kampung Buah Pala issue as a case in point.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is scheduled to launch the party at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park in Serdang, The event will be attended by 5,000 members.
Thanenthirran denied that the government was behind the setting up of the party and that was why the prime minister was invited for the launch.
"We invited him in his capacity as the prime minister. He is the prime minister for all the people and not just for BN members, we''re humbled and honoured with his acceptance," he said.
Makkal Sakti, he said, had noted Najib''s responses to the problems of the Indian community since taking office, and if the government was sincere in helping Indians, the party would cooperate with the government.
"I can see the change (brought by Najib) in the system...a real and meaningful change for the betterment of the Indian community and the people," he said.
Najib had addressed issues besetting the community, raised by Makkal Sakthi such as the allocation of land for a Tamil school in Lukut, processing of long overdue citizenship applications and funding for Tamil schools.
The prime minister had also moved to increase Indian equity in unit trusts and participation in the civil service, education and social development.
"He is serious, sincere and sensitive to solving issues of the Indian community...he doesn''t sit or sleep on issues but confronts to solve and get the results," noted Thanenthirran.
But for now, the party is not mulling to seek a place with the BN, although it would consider if invited, as the party focuses on building itself.
"It is not in our mind presently, the important task ahead is gaining and winning the support of the Indian community. We leave it to the political parties to judge our strength and service to the people," said Thanenthirran.
He may be new to politics but said he had the pulse of the grassroots from his days as the national coordinator with the now banned Hindraf activist group that took him through the length and breadth of the country for 514 days.
Besides, he also has 20 years of community service as national treasurer for the Malaysian Youth Council and Hindu Youth Council.
The estate-born Thanenthirran, who hails from Kedah, said he initiated the formation of Makkal Sakthi from a need to have a strong platform to serve the Indian community.
"We identify ourselves not as leaders but as the people''s servant. This is not a one-man party or a one-man show. All decisions are collectively made. There is enough room for democracy," he said when asked how he would diffentiate Makkal Sakti from other Indian-based parties in the country.
The new party has nothing to do with MIC or other Indian-based parties, he stressed."Let them do their job and we do ours. Let the people judge for themselves," said the 47-year-old businessman.
Without disclosing any names, he claimed that several leaders from Indian-based parties had indicated they wanted to join Makkal Sakti.
They were welcome, he said, as long as they supported the party''s struggle for the people and wanted to create more political awareness of their legitimate rights and bring them into the mainstream of the country''s development.
The party stood for transparency, accountability, integrity, truth and and ''dharma'' (justice), said Thanenthirran.
He said half of the party''s 33 central committee members were from professional groups such as IT experts, businessmen, lawyers and corporate people.
Any constructive criticism and comment that would contribute to fair, frank and informed discussion on this posting to help achieve our national objective will be most appreciated. We need to have more open exchange of ideas on this sensitive but important subject in the context of the national vision and security.