General election expected in
March – Indian voters “kingmakers” in 28 parliamentary and 78 state assembly
constituencies where they represent more than 15% of electorate
Speech at St. John’s Hall forum
by Lim Kit Siang
I expect the 12th general
election to be held in another two months’ in March 2008.
For the whole of this year, there had been periodic speculations about
general election this year as early as before the 50th Merdeka anniversary
celebrations on August 31, then almost monthly – September, November and
But such speculation of early polls had only made their rounds outside the
precincts of Parliament as there had never been any buzz or fizz among
Members of Parliament, including Ministers, Deputy Ministers and
Parliamentary Secretaries, that general election was imminent or around
If I had been asked a week ago, I would rate the chances of the next
general election being held either before or after April next year (when
Anwar Ibrahim regains his civil entitlement to contest in the general
election) as 50-50.
There was however a quantum development in the political scenario in the
past few days, when for the first time in the current term of MPs, the
corridors of Parliament were infected by an air of expectation that MPs
were seeing the end of Parliament and that they would not be gathering
again as MPs of the 11th Parliament.
I would now rate the chances of the 12th national polls being held in
March as 70-30.
The next general election will see a new factor in the political power
equation – the role of the Malaysian Indian voters, who had always been
regarded as a solid captive vote-bank by the Barisan Nasional in previous
This is no more the case as there is an awakening of political
consciousness among the Malaysian Indians, particularly at the high-handed
treatment of the Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur which saw the
support of 30,000 Indians from all over the country, the unjust and
unconscionable handling of the “Batu Caves 31” who were denied bail and
incarcerated for 13 days for the ridiculous charge of “attempted murder”
of one policeman and the dismissal of the legitimate grievances of the
Indian community over their long-standing marginalization as equal and
rightful citizens of Malaysia.
Although there is no single parliamentary or state assembly constituency
in Malaysia where the Indian voters constitute the majority of the
electorate and could singly decide who would be elected the MP or State
Assembly representative, Indian voters represent over ten per cent of the
electorate in 62 Parliamentary constituencies and 138 State Assembly
constituencies and are an important factor in determining the electoral
In 28 Parliamentary and 78 State Assembly constituencies in Peninsular
Malaysia, the Indian voters are the “kingmakers” as they constitute more
than 15% of the electorate and exercise a decisive influence as to who
wins or loses in the constituency.
In Perak state, there are 13 Parliamentary and 27 State Assembly seats
where Indian voters comprise more than 10% of the electorate, and six
Parliamentary and 13 State Assembly seats where Indian voters comprise
more than 15%.
The Perak constituencies with more than 15% Malaysian Indian voters are:
Sungai Siput - 22.45%
Bagan Datok - 22.36%
Ipoh Barat - 21.24%
Tapah - 19.67%
Telok Intan - 19.02%
Tanjong Malim - 17.29%
Buntong - 44.30%
Hutan Melintang - 30.39%
Jalong - 26.11%
Changkat Jong - 26.04%
Chenderiang - 24.95%
Sungkai - 19.76%
Jelapang - 18.60%
Behrang - 18.15%
Lintang - 18.11%
Pasir Panjang - 17.80%
Alor Pongsu - 16.89%
Aulong - 15.84%
Pantai Remis - 15.22%
The contemptuous dismissal of the legitimate grievances of the Malaysian
Indians over their political, economic, educational, social, cultural and
religious marginalization was confirmed by none other than the MIC
President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in his RTM1 interview in the 60 Minit
Bersama Menteri programme last night.
Samy Vellu claimed that “the government has taken measures to improve the
lot of Indians and has never neglected the community”, blaming any
shortfall on an “ineffective delivery system”.
This is a very poor excuse indeed, as Samy Vellu cannot run away from the
fact that he had been the MIC President and sole Indian Cabinet Minister
for over 28 years and he cannot just dismiss the grievances of the
Malaysian Indians about their long-standing marginalization by blaming all
on the “ineffective delivery system”.
Secondly, Samy Vellu was guilty of serious denial syndrome when he
continued to claim that the government had never neglected the Indian
This is all the more shocking as Samy Vellu was present albeit as silent
observer and note-taker at the two-hour special meeting between the Prime
Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Indian NGOs last Friday
where representatives including from Malaysian Hindu Sangam and Malaysian
Indian Business Association had spoken out loud and clear about the plight
of the Malaysian Indians because of government neglect and discrimination.
How can Samy Vellu go on RTM1 after the Indian NGO’s meeting with the
Prime Minister to tell the nation that the Malaysian Indians had never
been neglected, going against the message the Indian NGOs wanted to convey
to the Prime Minister last Friday? Isn’t this a great disservice to the
cause of justice and equality for the Malaysian Indians under the
The Star reported Samy Vellu as saying that “based on feedback, there were
Indians who had begun questioning why the issue raised by the community
had not been resolved by the Government”.
Shouldn’t Samy Vellu be grateful to the Malaysian Indians who have the
courage of their convictions and citizenship to question the
marginalization of the Indians?
Samy Vellu said: “There were those who questioned why their applications
had not been entertained. So, I have asked the Prime Minister to give a
bit more to the Indians (in development programmes) considering their
history (in the country). The Prime Minister has agreed to consider this.”
Is Samy Vellu admitting to his failure and that he would not have asked
the Prime Minister “to give a bit more to the Indians” if the Malaysian
Indians had not demonstrated in support of the Hindraf rally on Nov. 25 to
demand government attention and action on their long-standing
marginalization as the new underclass in Malaysia?
And why is he asking “to give a bit more to the Indians” as if Samy Vellu
must beg on behalf of the Indians, when as equal and rightful citizens of
Malaysians, the Indians are entitled to ask what should be rightfully
theirs and not just “crumbs” on the dining table?
The New Straits Times report on Samy Vellu’s RTM1 interview said:
On the use of the words
"ethnic cleansing" by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), Samy Vellu
said: "Hindraf leaders do not know the meaning of the word. This is what
happened in Bosnia but it is a baseless accusation here."
If Samy Vellu is right, that
the Hindraf did not know the meaning of “ethnic cleansing” when they used
the term, why was it necessary to invoke the draconian Internal Security
Act (ISA) to detain them indefinitely without trial?
Is Samy Vellu prepared to tell the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that the
Hindraf leaders should not be detained under the ISA and should be set
free immediately as they had not known the meaning of the term “ethnic
Generally, Samy Vellu’s RTM interview last night as reported by the press
has shown that he has lost touch with the Indian ground and roots, which
is why he has no credibility when he claimed “many people” who had taken
part in the Hindraf demonstration had been sorry and regretted their
Just now, I had asked the over a thousand people gathered here - an
overwhelming number had gone to Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Hindraf
demonstration on Nov. 25, not over ethnic cleansing or genocide
allegations but as a cry of desperation by the Indian community to the
Prime Minister and the government over their long-standing marginalization
– and not a single hand went up when I asked for a show of hands of those
who now regret taking part in the Hindraf rally. Samy Vellu should stop
feeding misinformation to the Prime Minister and the mainstream media
about the long-standing and legitimate grievances of the Malaysian Indians
to an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman