PUTRAJAYA: MIC has to rethink its strategies to survive the 14th General Election (GE14) or risk going into oblivion. It has to win over the voters' trust and regain parliamentary and state seats that it lost to the Opposition in the last two elections - GE12 in 2008 and GE13 in 2013.
The third biggest component party of Barisan Nasional is cognisant of the fact that it has to field candidates with high integrity, good credibility and well liked by the voters not only to win in GE14, but also to remain relevant as the voice of the Indians, and in the bigger picture the voice of Malaysians.
Here is where the setback lies. Many of the previous candidates fielded by MIC seem to lack the qualities to be winners.
It is not surprising that during MIC's 71st AGM in 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the chairman of Barisan, said he wanted to see MIC fielding candidates who had the qualities to win and to be accepted by voters from all races.
However, MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam had said that credibility and ability have always been the party's prerequisite in choosing its candidates.
Political pundits point out that MIC could only afford to win four of the nine parliamentary seats contested during GE13 as its candidates failed to live up to expectations of the voters and even the party members frowned upon them. Some had no track record to show.
In the coming election, considered the mother of all elections, MIC has to make the right choice in its candidates as every vote counts in ensuring Barisan wins with a two-third majority.
Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian pointed out that MIC's failure to win five parliamentary constituencies (Subang, Teluk Kemang, Kapar, Kota Raja and Sungai Siput) out of the nine it contested only showed that the party has to reflect on its own shortcomings, and not on the strength of the Opposition.
"It needs candidates of calibre. What more, Kota Raja, Subang and Kapar are constituencies under Selangor that were won by the Opposition both in 2008 and 2013," said the Universiti Sains Malaysia social science studies lecturer.
Hence, MIC has to go the extra mile and think out of the box at least in taking back Teluk Kemang and Sungai Siput. MIC can't afford to lose both seats for the third time," he told Bernama recently.
If the party fares better this time around, it will help renew hopes for the future. However, if it continues with its losing streak, this will demotivate its supporters, members and the Barisan leadership, and MIC may have to surrender the seats to other component parties in the future.
Meanwhile, Universiti Utara Malaysia Political and International Affairs senior lecturer Prof Shukri Shuib highlighted that MIC's candidates have to be acceptable to all, including to the Indians.
Coming up with a robust and credible line-up is a challenge, with the chosen candidates having to fulfil the aspirations of the people and ensuring that Barisan regain a two-third majority in Parliament.
"In fact, MIC needs the right candidates to transform the political dimension of the Indian community in Malaysia. MIC candidates would have to be tactful enough to take on their opponents," he said.
"The voters of today are unlike those of yesteryears. They will evaluate the ingenuity and ability of the candidates in dealing with the issues highlighted.
"Meanwhile, humility is an indispensable attribute of the candidates and don't be overconfident of winning. The candidates too should not forget that once elected, they have to deliver their promises sincerely," he said.
Another political pundit Datuk Anbumani Balan noted that the GE14 should serve as MIC's platform to come up with a dynamic, progressive and visionary line-up to win over the hearts of the people and return the Indian support to Barisan.
"This is the time to give the opportunity for the candidates who are really qualified to vie for a seat to serve the people. The compelling line-up is crucial if the party is to continue representing the Indians in the country," he said.
Anbumani said that it was a bitter lesson for MIC in GE12 due to the fallout from the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) episode in 2007. Since then, the party has made "political improvements" to remain relevant with the aspirations of the Indians.
"Cooperation and unity is the key to success. However, this only can be achieved if all parties within MIC view wholeheartedly the party as theirs, and not the privilege of a few. If MIC is to go further, then the party should translate its words into deeds.
"Being the oldest and the biggest Indian party in the country, MIC members have to be ready to take on responsibilities entrusted to them under whatever circumstances. Do not find excuses or point fingers and be ready to learn from mistakes," he said.
Anbumani said since taking over the leadership mantle in 2009, Najib has taken numerous steps to tackle the woes faced by Indians through an efficient and effective delivery system, and the Indians have taken note of it.
"The Prime Minister has opened a new chapter for the future of the Indian community in the country. He has done everything possible including introducing the Malaysian Indian Blueprint to help Indians in the country, especially those in the B40 group," he said.
Hence, MIC has to move more aggressively in helping Najib and in realising all the aspirations for the Indian community in line with the country's way forward by drawing bigger support from the Indian community in GE14.
Dr Subramaniam was reported as saying that MIC was confident of winning seven parliamentary and 13 state seats from the 28 seats it plans to contest in GE14. - Bernama
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