Ishwar Nahappan joins DAP

(Media Conference Statement by Ishwar Nahappan on joining the DAP in Penang on Sunday, 10th February 2008 at 10.30 am)

My father Tan Sri Athi Nahappan died 32 years ago . On April 4th 1976 , one month before he died he made a speech at a dinner in his honor by the Penang State MIC at Wisma Perseketuan .

Let me read you a paragraph from his speech .

“The Government is now concerned with the eradication of poverty of all the races. This will be emphasized in our 3rd Malaysia Plan .

“Poverty is to be found in every community. In solving poverty we should not think of Malay poverty, Chinese poverty or Indian poverty. There can only be one poverty and that is NATIONAL POVERTY which must be solved regardless of race. I am aware that the Prime Minister (Tun Hussein Onn) is determined to eliminate the poverty of the nation as a whole. The answer to poverty is the equal distribution of opportunities, income and wealth. The MIC is determined to work with the govt to ensure that this will happen.”

A few weeks ago Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said “There are not just poor Indians, but also poor Chinese, Malays and other Bumiputras as well. This is why eradicating poverty among Malaysians, and I stress the word Malaysians, has been on our agenda and remains one of our priorities.”

Ladies and gentleman, what Prime Minister Badawi said was first mentioned by my father 32 years ago. Obviously, nothing has changed and the Barisan government continues to make empty promises.

Events of recent months have clearly shown that the MIC leadership has dismally failed in their duty to ensure that the Indian community has had equal opportunities or equal distribution of wealth and income as outlined by my father in 1976. In fact, the MIC has totally neglected to address the desperate conditions faced by large sections of the Malaysian Indian community. This transcends every facet of human life and endeavor.

Whether it is in EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION, HOUSING, CORPORATE WEALTH or simply EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES, the Indian Community as a whole has fallen behind and missed out these last 28 years. Let me give you some facts.

– There are less than 3-4% Indians studying in the Govt Universities.

– Indians comprise less than 1% of those who were given the opportunity to study Nursing in the various Government Nursing Colleges .

– Malaysian Indians have, over a fifteen year period, comprised less than 2.5% of the annual student intake of teacher training colleges.

– Malaysian Indians have received less than 1% of all scholarships awarded by Govt and Govt-related bodies .

– Less than 1% of those training as officer cadets in Military Colleges are Indians.

– For the last 15 years, Indians have numbered less than 2% annually of those who underwent training as police officers.

– The situation in the Malaysian Civil Service is even more grim and appalling. One can walk into any Govt department and you will be hard pressed to find an Indian or Chinese in the clerical and administrative sections. For example, in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in KL, out of 400 staff, there are only 2 Indians and 3 Chinese.

– The KTM , which was a traditional source of employment for the Indian Community , is recruiting less than 3% Indians on an annual basis.

– As of 6th Feb’08 , the total market capitalization of the KLCI was 764 Bln ringgit. I estimate the Malaysian Indian Community accounts for less than 1% of the listed Corporate wealth of the country .

In 1971, three foreign Indian banks then operating in Malaysia prior to Independence were merged as the United Asian Bank. A signatory to the merger documents was my late father. In 1973 the United Asian Bank started operations, with one of its management objectives, to provide capital and financial support to Indian entrepreneurial development . Another objective was to provide management training for Malaysian Indians. As a matter of interest, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was one of the bank’s earliest management trainees.

Like many Malaysian banks during the 1980’s , UAB got into problems from which it largely recovered . However, unlike the other banks, UAB was forced to merge with the Bank of Commerce in the early 90s.

There lies another story —– THE UNSEEN HAND OF DAIM .

Another Malaysia Indian based bank at that time was Bank Buruh. That bank, too, was also forced to merge with Bank Simpanan Nasional. Malaysian Indians effectively lost the only 2 banks that they had control of. When approached by many members of the community to prevent this happening, including a special delegation, Dato Samy Vellu , the purported leader of the Indian Community, responded “ MY HANDS ARE TIED . THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO “.

As a result, the Indian Community as a whole have been without the support of an Indian based Financial Institution . Now we are informed that Dato Vel Pari the Managing Director of MAIKA Holdings and SAMY VELLU’s son is selling off the only remaining financial institution which the community at least has some indirect interest. That is United Oriental Assurance.

The MIC and the Govt originally refused to admit and maintained a state of denial about the genuine issues raised by Hindraf. Now that the elections are about to be announced and the Govt , in particular the PM and DPM , have softened their positions and typically distributing their token largesse, including declaring a public holiday for Thaipusam. Prime Minister, we do not want a public holiday. What we want is jobs and equal opportunities. Malaysia has enough public holidays.

Even the great Samy Vellu now admits he needs to change the MP’s and the faces of MIC . The deputy PM has even gone on to suggest that the MIC rebrand itself . Dear Dato Samy Velu, can I suggest that a more appropriate brand for the Malaysian Indian Congress be “The Malaysian Indian Conmen”?

In the early 1970’s when I was a student in London , Samy Vellu advised me, in a taxi drive from London Heathrow airport, the subject matter being a watch and his application to the ARIBA . I will hold that discussion in confidence but I would now like to advise him that YOU CAN CON SOME OF THE PEOPLE SOME OF THE TIME BUT YOU CANNOT CON ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME . In the eyes of many, he has single handedly been responsible for the current plight of the Indian Community than any other person but even more insidious than that , he has largely destroyed their self respect and pride. Whilst over the past 30 years, the Indian diaspora all over the world has progressed and excelled in all aspects of human endeavour , the Indian community as a whole has regressed and is today in a worse state than it has ever been .


I have not taken the decision to support the DAP and Keadilan lightly . Prior to the elections in 1999 , totally disgusted with Dr Mahathir and everything he represented, I met Datin Sri Wan Azizah Ismail as well as Kit Siang and offered my support to both of them. At that time I was not prepared to openly support either party . However, I went on to spend some time with Kit Siang in the run up to polling day in Penang. I also spent a little time with Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj who stood against Samy Vellu . It was a David vs Goliath match. I leave you no guesses as to who Goliath was both in shape and mentality but unfortunately unlike the biblical story, David was beaten by Goliath.

In the general election of 2004, like dead men clutching at straws , so many of us put our trust in Pak Lah hoping and praying that with the departure of the dreaded Mahathir , Pak Lah would bring some fundamental change to the state of the nation and I did not offer any support to either Keadilan or DAP .

Alas, this was not to be as we have merely exchanged a wolf in sheep’s clothing for a sheep in sheep’s clothing, and the wool continues to be pulled over our eyes. And nothing has changed or will change with the current leadership as these failed policies will continue in different clothing.

Symptoms of these failed policies include ……

1. The Evil of Corruption:
The same endemic corruption that started and flourished with the advent of the Mahathir and Daim eras continues unabated with a life of its own and always with subsequent cover ups. We have the 6.75 Bln Ringgit naval boat fiasco unearthed by none other than the auditor general and the 4.60 Bln Ringgit Port Klang free Zone Ghost town.

2. The Evil ISA:

The continuance of this evil draconian act which was used by the British over 50 years ago against communist terrorists has been viciously brought to bear on 5 innocent men who have merely identified the plight of ordinary Malaysian Citizens.

3. The Evil Police Brutality:

The recent demonstrations by 2000 peaceful lawyers defending fundamental democratic rights and the constitution was met with such ferocity by the police, with overhead helicopters and water cannons being used against them.

Innocent Hindraf supporters were sprayed with chemical laced water. In this room we have a living example of police brutality. Memories are so short but it was Dato Anwar Ibrahim who was beaten up brutally by the IGP, who directly reported to Mahathir as Home Minister, who if we remember, tried initially to claim that the injuries were self-inflicted.

4. The Evil of Violence:

Pak Lah promised that the Barisan Nasional will improve the level of personal safety of every individual and it would enhance the efficiency of the police force. Individual Security has deteriorated to such a level that ordinary citizens fear to walk the streets alone even during midday or go into carparks of shopping centres. Till today the police have failed miserably in apprehending the perpetrators of the vicious sodomy and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Selayang, nor the murderer of 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin from Kampng Bahru .

Without proper employment opportunities, low self esteem Indian thugs roam the streets and it was just 4 weeks ago that an Indian lady with 2 young children had her neck decapitated for her gold necklace in Taman Sentosa near Klang. In Johor Bahru, the sister of a well known Singaporean author died as a result of her head being bashed in by armed robbers while bystanders were unable to do anything. Crimes like this are becoming so rampant that neighbourhood vigilante groups are growing.

And according to the Prime Minister, quote “The current police training academy cannot accommodate a surge in trainees, more centres need to be built first. The ratio of police to the population ideally should be 1:250 people but, in Subang, for example, the ratio is 1:3,000.” (End of quote)

This is clearly a complete lack of planning. If the Prime Minister, who is also the Home Minister is not sleeping, who is?

4. The Evil of Communalism :

Communalism continues to be perpetrated by keris-wielding Barisan leaders who, bankrupt of real ideas or solutions, continue to play politics of the lowest order. MCA leaders are told to shut up, and they meekly sokong. Families have been devastated by the intrusion by officers to retrieve dead bodies of their kin in the name of religion. Communalism has spread to the very fabric of our schools , our colleges and universities. Even at the Primary school level, children of different races do not mix with each other and stick to their own communities. This is a sad situation and does not bode well for the future of our country.

5. The Evil of Overspending :

We have seen the reintroduction of 150 bln ringgit worth of mega projects. It remains to be seen who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of some of these mega projects but if history is anything to go by, then the spoils will be shared by the Putras of UMNO, MCA and MIC. These mega projects are taking place despite the ordinary man having to face harsh realities of rising prices of fuel , cooking oil , rice and basic subsistence commodities.

This evil that is destroying the state of this nation just cannot go on .

Edmund Burke , a famous 18th Century Irish statesman and philosopher said …“ ALL THAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS THAT ORDINARY MEN DO NOTHING “

I decided to stop being an arm chair politician and do something. I am here today because I believe that our nation is on a slow but steady path to irreversible ruin. Our people, and the children of our people, will not prosper or have the chance to prosper as they rightfully deserve unless we all realize the urgency of the situation, and the necessity of each and everyone of us standing up to say NO MORE!

Thank you.

  1. #1 by raven77 on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 3:36 pm

    Perhaps the greatest damage Mahathir did was in the merging of all banks. Sure our banks were weak after the 1997 onslaught…but with this excuse Mahathir, Daim and co forced the merger of so many banks leaving the money of Malaysians in the monopoly of so few banks. Our laws today heavily side these banks…leaving small timers who want to break out of poverty at the mercy of AH Longs…this would never have happened during ATHI NAHAPPAN’s time. A band of thieves….robbed this nation blind during the Mahathir era….they continue to do so on Badawi’s watch…..ISHWAR NAHAPPAN’s input into politics is most welcome… the father, he will hopefully bring hope to many Malaysians who today face a future of uncertainity….

  2. #2 by Michael Sun on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 3:39 pm

    That is indeed an inspiring speech. Well Done and may God Almighty bless and protect you always.

    With Ishwar’s corporate experience, it augurs well for DAP.

    TIME FOR CHANGE. “Just Change It” – DAP election slogan

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 5:06 pm

    We have all been robbed lock, stock and barrel since the mid-70s.

    Who is the richest Malaysian, you may well ask? Sugar King Kuok?, Quek Leng Chan? Ananda Krishnan? the late Lim Goh Tong? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

    It is Tun Daim Zainuddin with his secret Billions stashed away overseas.

    Who else are above the above named in the list?

    Tun Daim’s coterie of hangers on. They are all worth billions EACH!! But you wont find their wealth stashed here. They are all overseas away from prying eyes – properties in UK, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Africa, Central Asia, everywhere.

    One of them was recently featured in The Star – Wan Azmi, who has used his private wealth overseas to make other investments and listed his companies on the UK Stock Exchange. But his companies here on the KLSE are kaput. He’s poor? You gotta be kidding. He’s enjoying life. The other names, well you all know. The question is, how did they all accumulated their wealth?

    With the departure of Daim, new billionaires have taken over. But they all remain in the background. They all laugh when the top 40 of Malaysia’s richest men lists come out. They all know that is the “poor list”.

    Did you hear that MU has sold off 30 ha of its lands to some politicians for condominium construction on the Damansara side? Another tycoon becomes richer. And they do these with impunity!!!

    And our leadership turns a blind eye to all these shenanigans because they are powerless and can do nothing but only make empty statements.

    I am glad Mr Nahappan has finally decided to make a stand. I hope he can do something for the community, like this one :

    Sikhs want land for temple

    GEORGE TOWN: The growing Sikh population in Bayan Baru plans to seek the federal government’s intervention to get its rightful place of worship in the area.

    Members of the Gurdwara Sahib Bayan Baru said a plot earmarked by the government for Sikhs at the non-Islamic religious and cultural enclave near the Snake Temple had been converted into a car park and a children’s playground.

    “We need a gurdwara in Bayan Baru. There are almost 300 Sikh families in the area and the number is expected to increase,” Gurdwara Sahib Bayan Baru secretary Manjeet Singh said.

    The enclave with four plots for four religious communities was established in the 1980s.

    The Sikhs had applied to develop the plot in 1993 and again in 2003, but there has been no positive reply from the chief minister and the Penang Development Corporation.
    Sikhs in the area use a temporary gurdwara operating from a terrace house.

    “All we are asking for is that the government upholds its policy that land originally put aside for a particular purpose must not be hijacked for other purposes,” Manjeet said, adding that a recent study showed the average utilisation of the car park was only 18.7 vehicles per day.

    I look forward to positive action for the people.

    Incidentally, when the Finance Minister II can make the “mother of all speculative losses” amounting to at least RM 30 -40 billion, and is forgiven, made a Senator and Minister of Finance, given a Tan Sriship, then you can appreciate why he and the government can easily forgive and ignore a “small” write-off of RM 4.6 billion in PKFZ. Its “in the national interest” they will all say.

    Its time for the 250,000 voters working across the Causeway and the many who live overseas to come back and vote and make a difference. But the short notice and campaign period will make it very difficult for them to do it.

  4. #4 by dawsheng on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 5:44 pm

    “I have not taken the decision to support the DAP and Keadilan lightly.” Ishwar Nahappan

    Of course, to some people you must be out of your mind already.

  5. #5 by sec on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 7:17 pm

    I wish the DAP will plan wisely and correctly the state seats and parliament seat in Taiping. DAP can not afford to lose seats it contest in Perak and a join coliation government is possible

  6. #6 by mobileworld on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 7:47 pm

    Welcome aboard…..nothing else matters, we want a change for the better…….plse reflect this and the votes will come!

  7. #7 by Saint on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 10:11 pm

    The MIC had great people who had made sacrifices to the Indian community. The only “tangible contribution” Mr. Samy did was to discriminate all these people and along with them the Indian community.

    To Mr.Ishwar Nahppan, thanks for coming out. We need all good Indians at this most trying time. Good luck and God bless.

  8. #8 by chuchueey on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 11:34 pm

    In the general election of 2004, like dead men clutching at straws , so many of us put our trust in Pak Lah hoping and praying that with the departure of the dreaded Mahathir , Pak Lah would bring some fundamental change to the state of the nation and I did not offer any support to either Keadilan or DAP .

    Alas, this was not to be as we have merely exchanged a wolf in sheep’s clothing for a sheep in sheep’s clothing, and the wool continues to be pulled over our eyes. And nothing has changed or will change with the current leadership as these failed policies will continue in different clothing.


    I too voted with my eyes closed for the last many elections, and when I opened my eyes I realised too late I was taken for a ride. This time around I will be walking into the voting booth with wide open eyes and mind properly focused, and hope that my big X on the ballot paper will bring about change for a better future for all Malaysians.

  9. #9 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 1:34 am

    “For example, in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in KL, out of 400 staff, there are only 2 Indians and 3 Chinese.”

    Indian and Chinese Voters in Agricuture Minister mahyuddin’s constituency must vote for the Opposition just to teach him a simple lesson.

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 1:53 am

    Ishwar, thank you for a well-composed and substantive speech. Noticeably, you were very sparing and brief with the details, presumably because of time constraints. I guess if you were to expand just a little bit more on each topic, you will need veritable tomes to complete the essay.

    Honestly, I know very little of your dad though I often wonderd who he was in those days when I drove through TTDI where a strret was named after him. It would be interesting to know more of this man, Athi Nahappan…and what he would have thought of today’s political scenario. Perhaps, you may wish to consider a rejoinder on the lines of “The Memoirs of Athi Nahappan – as seen by his son” or “The Unwritten Memoirs of Athi Nahappan” or “The Memoirs of Athi Nahappan – that could have been published”.

    Samy Vellu wrote ( or someone wrote something about him) in some hardback, lovely bound volume as I walked past some bookshops. I didn’t even bother to lift the book let alone look inside those pages. I would never wish to have anything to do with any “Malaysian Indian Conmen” or soil my fingers leafing through some of their garbage.

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 4:51 am

    This reminds me of another quotable quote by Edmund Burke:

    “No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

  12. #12 by Jimm on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 9:02 am

    Just DO IT

  13. #13 by ktteokt on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 10:25 am

    He chose the right path! The Chinese call this “giving up darkness for light”!

  14. #14 by iyamwhoiyam on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 10:37 am

    Congrats Mr. Ishwar….maybe i will be in the running someday, in the meantime, i am still very young and need to focus on self building….once i am ready…..i’ll fight the plight too =)

  15. #15 by BlackEye on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 10:32 pm

    An “ayam” finally ends up walking the streets. What does it matter? =)

  16. #16 by damianyeow on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 - 1:07 am

    Have u ever wondered how Aparthaid policy in South Africa survived for 30+ years, because there are ‘traitors’ in the SF police & army units, but of course in the lowest-ranking ones. They use blacks in uniform to beat-up black protestors silly & lock thousands of them in jails. So the analogy I’m using now’s the blacks(negros) is non other than MIC-MCA-Ger( can I call Axis-of-Evil), these are the ‘traitors we must eliminate’, claiming with no shame to represent their ‘community’ when in reality selling them out out-right. Why can’t we get this thru to the PJ voters especially?

  17. #17 by scorpian6666 on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 - 11:24 am

    You’re a hero !

  18. #18 by dylsee on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - 5:40 pm

    What you said is very true. Malaysia has many natural resources, palm oil and petrol in particular. We are earning hugh amount of money, and where does the money go? and why poverty is still here? Think about it and cast your vote wisely.

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