MIPP pledges to win Indian support for Perikatan in GE16

Ravin Palanisamy

A study by political analyst Prof Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Asia Research Institute indicates that the estimated Indian support for PH was a significant 81% during the last general election. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 24, 2023.

UNDER a new leadership, the Malaysian Indian People’s Party (MIPP) has pledged to swing the Indian support for Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the next general election, its president P. Punithan said, adding he was confident of obtaining more than 40% votes from the community for the coalition.

In the previous general election, PN received significant support from the Malay community; however, it was unable to secure the backing of non-Malay voters who instead supported Pakatan Harapan.

Punithan said the support of Indians can swing with the help of his party which has applied to join PN.

“So, (if accepted into PN) we can bring in the Indian support so it can win more seats in the next GE. We can have a strong base in terms of Indian support towards PN,” Punithan told The Malaysian Insight.

“With us in PN, the Indian support can potentially increase by 40% to 50%, increasing seats in parliament for the coalition.

“Maybe we could probably add another 15 or more seats,” the former Selangor MIC youth chief added.

The revamped MIPP, which was formed four years ago, announced its new line up with Punithan leading the party.

He said that the party will submit its application to be part of PN soon.

With PN lacking Indian representation, Punithan said MIPP’s inclusion could further build and strengthen the trust of the community.

“It is quite clear there needs to be an Indian political party in PN because if the community wants to support it, there must be a base and a strong foundation.

“Well, we understand there are concerns among Indians with PAS being in PN but there must be someone to act as a moderator and negotiate.

“Bersatu has been balanced but there must be someone who can negotiate with PAS. So, we as the Indian party, will play that role,” Punithan, who is also the deputy chief of PN’s Indian committee said.

MIPP president P. Punithan says several Indian parties over the years have lost touch with the community’s needs. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 24, 2023.

Punithan said that the party aims to get 200,000 members by next year, with work actively ongoing in 10 states presently.

“Starting January 2024, we are opening up our membership but we have already identified 160 division leaders for the party.

“Our target is to have 70% of members below the age of 50. We will conduct our AGM next year and will be tabling our constitutional amendment, to create a better structure for the party,” he said, adding that several Indian civil society groups will also be affiliated with the party.

Vacuum for Indian support in PN

Punithan said that he saw a huge vacuum in terms of Indian parties and leadership in the country.

He was confident that by joining PN, he would be able to strengthen the Indian support base.

“We have been seeing the rise of PN’s support nationwide, especially among the Malay community.

“When it comes to the Indian community, PN obtained about 5% of their support in GE15. But during the August state elections, the support increased to almost 20%.

“This shows that there is room to further engage the community and there must be an Indian political party in PN to provide alternative leadership.

“The present government is not doing enough for the Indian community. So, the next best alternative is PN and it must have a party to lead the Indian community,” he said.

Punithan said by gaining increased support, PN could potentially expand its influence beyond the four states it currently governs.

A study conducted by political analyst Prof Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Asia Research Institute indicated that the estimated Indian support for PH was a significant 81% during the last general election.

Punithan mentioned that currently, the majority of Indians support PH for a singular reason – to make Anwar Ibrahim the prime minister.

However, he noted that support for PH had declined over the one year of Anwar’s administration.

“If 80% are voting for some multiracial party, it is not because of the leaders.

“Indians voted for PH because of Anwar. However, there has been a significant decline in support for PH and Anwar within the first year itself,” he said.

“This is a significant development in terms of potential shifts in votes.

“When there is a decline in support for PH, the question arises: who will gain their votes?

“I’m sure they are not going to vote for the Indian parties aligned to BN. I don’t think they will because they rejected them.

“So, they will be looking for an alternative and that is where we come in,” Punithan said, adding that in the next three years, the party and its members have to work vigorously to increase its support for PN.

Focus on Indian Economic Agenda

Punithan said that several Indian parties over the years have lost touch with the community’s needs.

Hence, he said that MIPP will focus on the Indian socio-economic issue and uplift the community.

“There has been no direction for the Indian community over the years. Former prime minister Najib Razak launched the Malaysian Indian Blueprint but after Barisan Nasional’s loss, it was scrapped in 2018.

“Now, another five years have passed, and there is still no clear direction for the Indian community. I believe from Merdeka until today, there has been no specific path outlined.

“There must be a clear path when it comes to Indian economic development. Otherwise, the issue will never be resolved,” he said.

He said it would be a very practical agenda for the Indian community for the next 10 years.

“We aim to formulate an economic agenda for the Indians, which is endorsed by PN leaders, ensuring consistency and adoption in the annual federal budget and the upcoming Malaysia Plan (RMK).

“Thus, a document needs to be crafted that can be seamlessly integrated into these aspects, particularly the annual federal budget and the RMK,” he said.

Punithan believes that the Indians will support the party as they are fighting for a real cause.

Acknowledging that it will be an uphill task to raise support being in PN, he said the coalition has never sidelined the community. – December 24, 2023

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