Penang deputy chief minister II P Ramasamy told MIC leaders not to expect much from the department of overseas Tamils proposed by the incoming government of Tamil Nadu in India.
"Tamils in Malaysia do not need a 'big brother' Tamil Nadu government to look after the interests and welfare of diaspora Tamils.
"The incoming DMK party that won the recent Tamil Nadu state election apparently promised to set up a special department to look into the affairs of overseas Tamils and MIC president SA Vigneswaran has welcomed such a move, saying that the establishment of the special department would foster good relations between Malaysia and India or the state of Tamil Nadu.
"The long years of the MIC’s detachment from the grassroots could explain why the party leaders would even grab a 'straw' such as the diaspora department in Tamil Nadu," Ramasamy said in a statement today.
In the recent election, DMK led by MA Stalin, the son of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi, managed a comfortable win over arch-rivals AIADMK, which is allied to the BJP party of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"MIC has all the reasons in the world to welcome such a move so as to benefit Malaysian Indians in general and Tamils in particular, but setting up a diaspora department at the state or national level is nothing new in India.
"Given the huge population of the Indian diaspora globally, there have been attempts in the past in India to attract the diaspora for trade and investment purposes.
"It really makes a mockery of the new Tamil Nadu government to create a special department for overseas Tamils, given the dismal or pathetic performance of Tamil Nadu in the past in looking after the interests of Tamils, especially in Sri Lanka," Ramasamy said, referring to the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war.
"If Stalin’s father could not look after the interests of Sri Lankan Tamils or those in the tea plantations in Kandy, what hope is there in the creation of a new department for overseas Tamils?
"At the closing stage of the civil war in Sri Lanka, when innocent Tamils were massacred by the Sri Lankan armed forces, Tamil Nadu politicians in DMK and AIADMK were playing politics with the central government," he alleged.
Taking a further swipe at MIC leaders, he said that much can be done to improve the lives of Indians in Malaysia, rather than uncritically endorsing the superficial efforts of others.
"Links with Tamil Nadu or India is fine for cultural and religious reasons, but beyond this, contacts with Tamil Nadu or India cannot be expected to improve the lives of Indians in Malaysia," he added.