N16 – PERAI
Changing lives, touching others
An academician for most of his career, he shocked many when he wanted to enter politics. As a political science lecturer, politics was not something new to Professor Ramasamy who is now Penang Deputy Chief Minister II.
After spending 26 years in lecture halls, he got to know politicians including Lim Kit Siang, V. David and P. Patto. He attended functions organized by the DAP as a keen observer.
He risked his employment many times by associating himself with DAP, his employers warned him repeatedly about his involvement with opposition politicians. Deep down inside, Ramasamy knew that the BN government was failing the people of Malaysia. He knew that something had to be done.
Privately, he thought about a quiet retirement after leaving the classroom. It was a reward after a fulfilling career. Fate would have other plans for him.
After landing a lucrative research job in Singapore, he was asked to return to Malaysia to contest as a candidate in the 12th General Election. Ramasamy thought long and hard about what this would mean for himself and his family. Entering Malaysian politics would change his life completely.
“I was the sole breadwinner of the family, it was a big risk but I had to do something. I knew by resigning, if I lost the elections, I would have nothing left,” he says.
Naturally, feeling insecure was expected. After all, the Penang State Assembly had only one opposition MP at that time. No one in their right mind would think that DAP would make much of an impact in the 2008 elections. Many people remarked that joining DAP was a ‘lost cause’ after so many electoral failures.
“I guess all we wanted was to deny BN their customary two thirds majority in the Penang State Assembly. I didn’t think I could win my own seat,” Ramasamy recalls.
The March 8 elections made history, not just because of the gains by PR, but also the gains by the Malaysian Indian community. Ramasamy was appointed Penang’s first ever Deputy Chief Minister II. This is the highest position ever held by a Malaysian of Indian heritage in Penang or any other Malaysian state. In Perak, Sivakumar was the first Malaysian Indian to become Speaker of the Perak State Assembly. DAP had replaced MIC as the party with the highest number of Malaysian Indian Members of Parliament.
Ramasamy doesn’t think too highly of his political rivals in the MIC. “MIC is a total ineffective party under the control of UMNO. I give credit to HINDRAF as it was an eye-opener to the Indian community of Malaysia to rise up for their rights and not be fooled by MIC anymore.” Ramasamy says.
As the Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang, Ramasamy had to look beyond his constituencies and into the welfare of all Penangites regardless of race or religion. BN had other plans however, and exploited many issues along racial lines and using racial overtones. The Kampung Buah Pala issue comes to mind, where accusations were thrown against the PR state government. In fact, Kampung Buah Pala residents are getting double storey terrace houses estimated to be worth RM 750, 000. This compensation has now become a role model for many other relocation claims.
“I was in Sarawak during their recent State Elections and believe me when I say that the people there look at Penang with hope and they want change as well. Penang has risen to be the beacon of light for the rest of Malaysia to look upon and it has given hope to Malaysians that good governance can be achieved,” Ramasamy says.
Ramasamy could have had a quiet retirement after his long academic career to spend time with his family, but he realized that Malaysians must stand for what is right.