Malaysia’s top ethnic Indian party, which was shunned in elections a year ago, faces a major challenge after a rival party was launched with the blessing of the ruling coalition.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak presided over the debut of the Malaysian Makkal Sakti (MSP) party, which sprang from the banned rights group Hindraf, whose leaders were jailed for mounting anti-discrimination protests in 2007.
Analysts said the prime minister’s role was a slap in the face for the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a member of the 13-member Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.
They said that Najib, who needs to reclaim support from minority Indians and Chinese who are shifting toward a resurgent opposition, cannot rely on the MIC, which is widely seen as out of touch and beset by cronyism.
“That the PM himself is backing a small, insignificant Indian party shows he has lost faith in the MIC and the MSP is now a threat to the MIC, which will definitely try to block it from joining the ruling coalition,” political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said. “The amount of attention being given to MSP is surprising given that it has yet to prove whether it can attract Indian votes.”
In a speech punctuated by standing ovations and the prime minister leading cheers of “Makkal Sakti” (People’s Power), Najib said he would work with anyone who supported his government.
“I’d like to reach out to anyone in and outside of BN. As long as they believe in my government, we can work together,” he told some 3,000 party members and supporters at a lavish ceremony on Saturday. “These people want to support the BN, my leadership and government, except that they are not ready to be in MIC, so they have formed their own party. It is not my instigation for them to form the party.”
MSP president R. Thanenthiran said his party did not have any immediate plans to join the coalition.
“We are trying to improve the living conditions of the Indian community first and we can think of joining the BN later,” he said.
The MIC, which has been led by veteran politician Samy Vellu since 1979, has been criticized for failing to improve the lives of ethnic Indians, who say they are disadvantaged in terms of education, wealth and job opportunities.
The party was punished in national elections a year ago, securing only three out of nine parliamentary seats contested, but has ignored calls for change and retained Samy as its leader in internal polls last month.
The shunning of the MIC was part of an unprecedented drubbing for the BN, which lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority and control of five states to the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year