Does MIC Deserve Three Ministers?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
04 Aug 2011

PRIME Minister Najib Razak is being cavalier with taxpayers’ money in making MIC president G. Palanivel a full minister. His promotion from deputy minister will incur increases in Palanivel’s salary, perks, claims and pension – and the rakyat will be paying for them. Is it justifiable?

The MIC has only four Members of Parliament, but it now has a line-up of three ministers and two deputy ministers. How is that proportionate?

If T. Murugiah had not lost his senatorship last April and thereby his deputy minister position, there would be three MIC deputy ministers now.

It’s surprising Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa have not uttered a squeak about this. Which reinforces the general perception that Perkasa fights shy of criticising the ruling party and may actually be linked to it, despite claims to the contrary.

Why do I say the MIC now has three ministers?, you ask. Well, let’s not forget Samy Vellu. Less than eight months ago, he was appointed – also by Najib – to be Malaysia’s special envoy to India and South Asia with ministerial status (my italics). That was apparently his reward for stepping down as MIC president. It was to give him face through a dignified exit. But why was that necessary?

I raised questions about it then. I asked why the MIC should get another ministerial position after its poor performance at the last general election (GE). Where is the regard for values if rewards are given when they are not deserved?

Now Najib has further displayed this lack of values by giving a third ministerial position to a party that has performed miserably. So, to answer my own question about whether it’s right to make Palanivel a minister, I say unequivocally, “No.”

What purpose is served by promoting Palanivel?

According to Najib: “I want to return to the era of Abdul Razak where there were two Indian ministers in the Cabinet.” Is that all? Just because he wants it? Where’s the good reason? It sounds almost as whimsical and flippant as saying Abdul Razak was his father and therefore he must emulate the latter.

He also says the decision proves that the Government is committed to the Indian community and intends to work closely with them; and giving them another minister is giving them the opportunity to play an even more effective role.

What, pray tell, is that “role”?

If you suspect it is to support Barisan Nasional (BN) at the next GE, you would probably be right. Najib is clearly trying to win Indian votes with this move. But if public funds have to be incurred for him to do that, it cannot be proper. Why should taxpayers’ money be used to keep BN in power? BN is only the government of the day; it cannot use public resources to improve its chances of getting re-elected.

Najib may also feel that Palanivel should hold the same rank as MIC’s deputy president, S. Subramaniam, who is already Human Resources Minister. But it is not Najib’s duty to give Palanivel face by putting him on ministerial par with his deputy. Palanivel must, first of all, deserve the position.

The question is, does he?

He was not duly elected at the 2008 general election. He in fact lost his Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat. And when it came time for a by-election for that same seat in 2010 – because the PKR candidate who had defeated him died while in office – he was not chosen to be the candidate. Instead, a much junior MIC member, P. Kamalanathan, was selected. What did that signify?

It seems at the time, Najib himself did not favour Palanivel, and for a good reason: Palanivel was not liked by his constituents when he was the MP there; they said he was seldom seen in the vicinity.

Nonetheless, when the by-election was over, Najib made Palanivel a deputy minister in the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry. This was apparently both consolation for his being bypassed as Hulu Selangor candidate and preparation for his takeover as MIC chief.

Najib accomplished this by using the back-door method of making him a senator first. This was the same method he employed to make ministers out of other politicians openly rejected by the rakyat in 2008, like Koh Tsu Koon and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil; and also to make deputy ministers out of Awang Adek Hussein and Chew Mei Fun.

Bringing back election losers in this unsatisfactory manner has made Najib’s practice questionable. The same goes for his appointment of Palanivel as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Besides, why do we need yet another Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department when there are already five – Koh, Nazri Aziz, Nor Mohamad Yakcop, Jamil Khir Baharom and Idris Jala? Is there so much work to go round for six?

What positive effect will his appointment have on the public interest? How will he better serve the rakyat when he was a disappointment to his Hulu Selangor constituents?

Such considerations, however, don’t seem to matter to Najib. What matters most is the Indian vote. He probably sensed that he had lost some Indian support after the unpopular month-long detention of the six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members under the Emergency Ordinance (EO). Making the offer to Palanivel is his attempt to salvage the loss.

The timing tells it all.

First, Subramaniam (on July 27) and then Palanivel (on July 28) publicly called for the PSM 6’s release. “I spoke to the Prime Minister several days ago and asked him to release them,” Palanivel said, as if to declare that the PM would listen to him. Then on July 29, the PSM 6 were actually released.

This made it look like the MIC could take credit for the release of the PSM 6, which would go down well not only with Indians but other Malaysians who had expressed outrage at the detention. But knowing how our wayang politics works, we may not be wrong in thinking that the release decision had already been made before the MIC’s appeals.

After all, why did Subramaniam and Palanivel choose to speak up only a month after the six were detained? Why did they not speak up when the arrest was first made of the six and 24 others on June 26 on suspicion of “waging war against the King” and “resurrecting Communism”? Why did they not come out then to say that such a suspicion was ridiculous? They kept quiet; their silence was an endorsement. They were complicit to the arrests as partners of the ruling regime.

Be that as it may, on July 30, at the MIC’s general assembly, Najib announced making Palanivel a minister. That being the day after the PSM 6’s release, it was obviously calculated to add to the feel-good momentum. As a result, Najib’s ratings might well go up, and those of the MIC’s as well.

But before Indians exult and decide to swing back to BN, what they might need to ask is how they will benefit from this. As minister, will Palanivel dare to speak up for them when at his own party’s general assembly last weekend, delegates were directed not to discuss the Interlok issue? When it comes to the big issues, will he be able to stand up to big brother Umno or just be a “running dog” doing its bidding?

And as for the PSM 6, the story is not yet over. Five days after their release, they were charged for being in possession of subversive documents, and will be tried together with the other 24.

Perhaps Palanivel’s first test as minister should be talking to the Prime Minister and asking him to drop the charges. Let’s see how far he can get with that. If he succeeds, then we can truly say that he deserves being made a minister. And that taxpayers’ money is being well and wisely spent.

  1. #1 by rahmanwang on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 6:51 pm

    On top of that Malaysia has the highest number of Ministers in Prime Minister Office.
    Does that mean we have many prime ministers? because everyone in PM office is Ministers!

  2. #2 by cskok8 on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 7:05 pm

    I though the decision to charge them supposedly lies with the AG.

  3. #3 by DAP man on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 7:30 pm

    The Indian community, most of whom are living from hand to mouth, will rejoice that they have an additional Minister and scramble to vote for BN.
    Next there will be an additional Indian movie or two to prove that BN cares for the community.

    Maybe, the Indians will get Ponggol as a holiday.

    Never mind if they have no food on the table and a roof over their heads – at least they have a new minister, another holiday and more movies.
    Thank you BN for caring for the Indians.
    You see, how cheap the Indian votes are!!
    See how easy to fool the commnity.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 7:44 pm

    When you are made Senator, you get a Senator’s pay and perks.

    When you are then appointed Minister, you then also get a Minister’s pay and perks.

    Tax free pensions etc etc.

    Who don’t want?

  5. #5 by monsterball on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 8:16 pm

    Najib trying his idiotic best to get Indians to support BN.

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 8:40 pm

    ‘Does MIC Deserve Three Ministers?’

    Three blind MICe. Three blind MICe.
    See how they run. See how they run.
    They all ran after the Minister Prime,
    Who promised them they could have their time,
    Did you ever see such a disgraceful sight in your life?
    As these three pitiful MICe? [2]

    Apologies to Anon.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 9:25 pm

    Najib is so desperate to win 13th GE that he does not know…he is making a fool of himself..with his low class politics.
    Malaysians can sit back and relax.
    Najib will help kill his own party and government.
    Even his own party active members know that too.

  8. #8 by tak tahan on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 9:42 pm

    /Perhaps Palanivel’s first test as minister should be talking to the Prime Minister and asking him to drop the charges. Let’s see how far he can get with that. If he succeeds, then we can truly say that he deserves being made a minister./

    Sure the PSM 6 would be released 1 before GE 13.Probably that’s the ‘pakat pakat’ sandiwara politic to show that MIC(Make Indian Cry)) truly champion the interest of Indian community.

  9. #9 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 10:48 pm

    Well, PR should review all pensions of politicians when they take Putrajaya.

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 12:21 am

    Good poo dles need 2 b rewarded n dis is NR’s U help me, I help U practice

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 1:59 am

    Gerakan n MCA mayb rewarded too with a couple of Minister posts soon, just 2 warm d positions 4 a short while (feel good n look good saja lah) b4 GE13 is held (4 publicity lor)
    Dat’s Y Perkosa diam diam mah

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 5:19 am

    ///Najib is clearly trying to win Indian votes with this move./// – Kee Thuan Chye (KTC).

    This is obvious.

    ///But if public funds have to be incurred for him to do that, it cannot be proper. Why should taxpayers’ money be used to keep BN in power?///

    They have been doing this ( using taxpayers’ money to keep BN in power ) since time immemorial. What’s the surprise? Its routine. Palanivel’s salary, perks, claims and pension are peanuts compared to other sums from public coffer that have been spent to bolster BN’s image and preserve its dominance. This is the case. What “should” be the case has never been in the vocabulary.

  13. #13 by Winston on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 8:59 am

    Having backdoor ministers defeats the purpose of having
    Don’t you think so?
    Because those who lost in elections can still be made ministers!
    It goes completely against the wishes of the people!!
    In fact, such things must not happen in the first place!!!

  14. #14 by Godfather on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 10:32 am

    Shameful arrogance of the government to keep spending and spending while telling the poor to tighten their belts. However, we forget that the word “shame” is not in BN’s dictionary.

  15. #15 by Cinapek on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 11:37 am

    Does MIC Deserve Three Ministers?

    Obviously not. What they deserve are three stooges.

    What we have here is one more licensed politician to con the Indians, as if they have not been conned enough already by Samy Vellu.

    And talking about Samy Vellu, with his ministerial level appointment on Malaysian taxpayer’s money, what has he achieved for Malaysia thus far? Is he busy spending taxpayers’ money chasing budding actresses’ skirts in the Indian subcontinent? Or arranging for the likes of Shah Rukh Khan to adorn FLOM’s social functions? Or maybe using tax payers money to fund the expenses to acquire projects for certain cronies?

  16. #16 by Bigjoe on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 11:41 am

    Making Palanivel minister is basically Air-headedness – useless, silly and stupid. There is no point to it except, as they say, ‘shiok-sendiri’.. It speaks volume of all the useless things that Najib has done. In fact, its the final proof, Najib is absolutely unnecessary. He merely is in the way of what remains to be done by someone else. The faster we get rid of the bum(p), the faster we can get to where we need to go.

  17. #17 by monsterball on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 2:23 pm

    Najib will tell Malaysians…’Trust me. I know what I am doing for the good of all Malaysians”
    EC Chief will say…..”Trust me. We are clean . No phantom votes. What are said and put out are mere human mistakes by my assistants, They will be corrected”
    “TRUST ME” was the coined words that brought Clinton to the White House.
    Najib and EC chief cannot be trusted at matter what they say.
    Both have a long list of lies and deceits to fool Malaysians.
    It is copycats …copying wrong tactics.

  18. #18 by monsterball on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 2:27 pm

    Under moderation again..for no reasons…except he owns the blog and do as he likes.
    I hope he does not do as he likes when PR is elected to govern Malaysia.

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