Ethnic Indians complaining of racial inequality may not vote against the ruling party in the general elections, according to Malaysian Premier Abdullah Badawi.
His comments came in the backdrop of protests by the community, including a huge rally of over 20,000 people in November last year declared illegal by the government, against its alleged marginalisation organised by the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Forum (Hindraf). The government has denied the allegations.
"I have given instructions that whatever grouses they (the ethic Indians) have should be attended to. We take these matters seriously and I have even made time to listen to them," Abdullah told the local Star daily in an interview published on Sunday.
Asked if the issue of ethnic Indians raised by Hindraf would influence how the community would vote in polls, he said "yes, I think votes will be affected somewhat."
Abdullah heads the Barisan Nasional coalition party, which is widely expected to win the polls, likely to take place in a few months' time.
Since the November protest, the government has started looking into several issues raised by the ethnic Indians, including the demolition of Hindu temples.
The prime minister last month also declared the Hindu festival of Thaipusam a public holiday here. Ethnic Indians, who form 7.8 per cent of Malaysia's 27 million population, had been urging the government for several years to declare the festival a public holiday.