By B Nanthakumar
UPDATED 6PM KUALA LUMPUR: PKR Indian representatives nationwide want Subang MP R Sivarasa replaced as party vice-president because “he is not fluent in Tamil”.
Some 40 PKR members recently met party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at Parliament House to convey their request.
The members want Sivarasa replaced by Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan.
According tomised to raise the issue with the top leadership. a source who was present at the meeting, Wan Azizah had pro
The source said the 40 Indian leaders had collectively expressed their concerns about Sivarasa’s inability to handle grassroots issues because of his language handicap.
“We are not condemning Sivarasa. He has been very supportive of the Indian community. But his setback is that he is not fluent in Tamil and cannot orate in that language.
“I have seen a few people asking him for help but because of the language barrier, they cannot seem to convey their needs to him... and this is becoming a problem at the grassroots levels,” said the source.
Besides, many ordinary Indians were intimidated by the lawyer and were afraid to approach him.
"Sivarasa is from an upper class urban community. He cannot speak fluent Tamil and is not approachable to the rural population.
“While some find him intimidating, others are too timid to see him,” he said, adding that the party leadership must acknowledge the fact that every month “there are a few Indians at the grassroots level joining the party”.
He said it was vital that leaders representing the Indian community must be both educated and knowledgeable about the community’s needs and be proficient in the Tamil language.
"Bearing all this in mind, we believe Gobalakrishnan is the most suitable person to lead the Indians in PKR.
“He has vast knowledge of the internal problems plaguing the Indians and has the ability to bridge the gap for PKR.
“We believe the PKR central committee will see our point of view on this matter,” he said.
Sivarasa: Not an Indian leader
When contacted, Sivarasa said members were free to express their views with the president or other leaders. While admitting that he could not speak proper Tamil, he said he had never held himself out as an "Indian leader" in PKR.
"I was appointed as a vice-president in 2007 and I see myself as a leader of all members of the party regardless of race.
"Moreover, my other colleagues Gobalakrishnan, Dr Xavier Jayakumar (state exco), S Manikavasagam (Kapar MP), M Muthiah (Bukit Melawati ), M Ravi (Port Dickson ), S Kesavan (Hutan Melintang and S Manikumar (Bukit Selambau ) all speak good Tamil and connect well with the Indian grassroots and collectively we have provided leadership," he said.
"Members who want to support someone for the post of a vice-president should advise them to run for the position in the party election to be held in a few months' time. I ran for the post of vice-president in 2004 and won. In 2007, I chose not to run, but accepted the appointment at the request of the president in the spirit of serving the party," he added.