I NORMALLY do not reply to things said by members of other political parties with regard to my party because when you get into a back and forth, your original message is almost invariably lost in the mudslinging.
Over the past two weeks, however, two local councillors from Penang, DAP’s Satees Muniandy and Chris Lee, chose to make certain comments about Gerakan.
I believe that in this particular instance, I need to exercise my right of reply to what I believe are glaring untruths, mischaracterisations and misinformation that are underwritten by a shallow understanding of political history.
To me this was nothing short of a petty attempt to score political points but however, unmasks a scary reality that the truth does not matter for certain politicians.
Let me start with Satees Muniandy’s piece.
Satees attacked Sara Petra because she said Gerakan was also an option for Indians who are jaded with other parties. He went on to castigate Gerakan, saying that the party has done nothing for Indians, had no Indian elected representatives and clearly lacked credibility with Indians in Malaysia.
I am an Indian and I joined Gerakan as I felt it was the party that best suited my political values. So, there is at least one Indian in Gerakan and I also serve as the political secretary to the party president.
Second, way before DAP had Dr Ramasamy as the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang, Gerakan had many senior Indians members with government positions.
Dr Pius Martin was an exco in Selangor in 1995. Dr Vijayaratnam was a parliamentary secretary in 2004. Datuk A Kohilan Pillay was deputy minister from 2008 to 2013.
Besides this, Gerakan has long championed Indian socio-economic issues and also worked tirelessly to further the Indian agenda with the MIC within the context of Barisan Nasional.
Gerakan also has a Special Indian Taskforce chaired by elected party vice-president Kohilan that deliberates on issues affecting Indians in Malaysia and provides valuable input to the government.
Beyond that, when Gerakan was in government in Penang, the party provided special scholarships for Indians and also conducted tuition classes in certain areas so that Indian students would do better in school.
I would argue that since 2008, the present Penang government has been more occupied with appropriating the annual Thaipusam, injecting itself into temple disputes and failing when it comes to the housing and welfare of Indians in Penang.
It begs the question – does having an Indian deputy chief minister really mean anything for the Indian community in Penang?
Is it possible that in Penang today Indians are worse off because houses are too expensive, employment is scarce as factories have shut down and quality of life is being eroded?
In a short and pithy piece, Chris Lee said Gerakan had suddenly reappeared in Penang.
It is actually Chris Lee who has suddenly woken up because Gerakan has been in Penang since 1968, a total of 48 years, and 39 of those years were spent in government.
Of course, the people of Penang for a myriad of reasons denied Gerakan a single seat in the state legislative assembly in the last two general elections. So the party’s role as the opposition in Penang has been severely constrained.
However, in the past eight years, we have done our best to hold the state government of Penang accountable on matters like the bold balding of hills, wanton reclamation of land, lack of affordable housing, environmental degradation and uncontrolled development.
It is good to know that Lee and possibly other colleagues of his have woken up from their slumber and realised that their party after eight years in power is finally being challenged on its decisions.
The Penang Chief Minister finds himself in a legal imbroglio, following allegations of purchasing a property below market value from a friend who also had dealings with the state government.
The reclamation of Gurney Drive is not only destroying marine life but will have adverse long-term impact on the environment.
The balding of hills will lead to landslides and forever alter Penang’s green landscape.
The third link being proposed lacks transparency and the numbers bandied about can be questioned.
The prices of houses are too high and there is no concerted effort to ensure more affordable housing in Penang.
That’s what is relevant in Penang today.
Gerakan will continue to do its job as a responsible party and I suggest Satees and Lee do the same.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.