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Ethnic Indian party bids to shore up credibility ahead of Malaysia's elections

Ethnic Indian party bids to shore up credibility ahead of Malaysia's elections

Malaysia's key ethnic Indian party took out advertisements in major newspapers Wednesday in a bid to shore up its credibility ahead of upcoming general elections.
The Malaysian Indian Congress, an important partner in the ruling National Front coalition, took out the full-page advertisements in a bid to win back the support of ethnic Indians who are angry with the government for what they say is racial discrimination.
More than 20,000 ethnic Indians staged a rare protest in November to demand racial equality, saying they have been denied jobs, education and religious rights in favor of ethnic Malay Muslims.
Ethnic Indians have traditionally supported the MIC and the ruling coalition, but many now say they plan to vote for the opposition.
Wednesday's advertisements carried the slogan "MIC Cares," and the party pledged to be "the community's custodian."
The party said it has helped preserve Tamil-language schools, managed temples, and created a number of educated and professional Indians over the past two decades due to its proactive involvement in the government.
"We have never said 'no' to you approaching us at any time. That's the truth," it said.
The MIC is contesting only nine out of 222 parliamentary seats in March 8 polls, but the Indian anger may singe the community's support for other ruling coalition candidates.
"It is nothing but false advertisement," said N.Surendran, who is a member of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, which organized November's rally.
"Indians are angry because they are marginalized. The MIC doesn't have the courage to stand up for Indian rights. If they had done so, why are the Indians in such a terrible condition?" he said. "I will definitely vote for the opposition."
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's approval rating among ethnic Indians plunged to 38 percent in December, from 79 percent in October, according to a recent survey by the independent think tank Merdeka Center.
Ethnic Indians make up 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, while ethnic Malays make up 60 percent. Ethnic Chinese account for about a quarter of the population.
Because their numbers are so small, the Indian discontent is unlikely to significantly shake the ruling coalition's grip on power.
The National Front, which won 91 percent of parliamentary seats in 2004 polls, is expected to win easily. However, it has acknowledged it may win fewer seats this time.


Updated : 2021-06-22 08:50 GMT+08:00