By : K Pragalath
PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has insulted the Indian community by referring to them as Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit.
Some Indian community leaders said that this was a most disrespectful term.
Najib said Indians were BN’s fixed deposit during the MIC’s 66th annual general meeting yesterday.
“In the 11th general election , the BN had its fixed deposit in the Indian voters but in the 12th general election, the Indian fixed deposit moved from the BN bank to the opposition bank.
“Maybe our interest rates were not good in 2008 for the Indian fixed deposit votes, but over the last three years, I have raised the interest rates and they are making a comeback to the BN bank. The confidence on the BN government is back,” Najib said.
Bersih 2.0 co-chairman S Ambiga said she was stunned to hear the term, fixed deposit, in reference to the Indian community.
“I was stunned. As an Indian, it is demeaning to be a fixed deposit because it gives the impression that you don’t think. It is unacceptable,” she said.
Ambiga, who was a former Bar Council chairman, added that the politicians should be more sensible in their language.
“Sometimes they don’t realise that it is insulting,” she said.
Mark of desperation
Tamil Foundation adviser K Arumugam sees Najib’s remark as a mark of desperation on Najib’s part and the dividends were given out to bait for votes.
“If the poorest of the three ethnic groups is the fixed deposit for Najib, it is condescending, mocking and ridiculing and shows his desperation. The poor is getting poorer, and the Indians are worst affected because of discrimination and racism.
“Najib’s handouts as dividends are at best, pittance for fishing votes. Things like inflation, low wages, cost of education and housing are making Indians live in increasing debt,” he said.
Another civil society leader, A Jayanath, who is Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) core group member, said that Najib had made a false assumption to regard Indian votes as BN’s fixed deposit.
“It is a false assumption. It is time we moved away from race-based politics and focus on ideology- based politics.
“The real issues are related to class, equity, marginalisation and poverty that affects all groups,” said Jayanath.-fmt