by Din Merican
UMNO-BN regime is desperate to win back Malaysian Indians who have defected to Parti KeADILan Rakyat in droves in the aftermath of the Hindraf protest in late December, 2007. The Police brutality, which symbolised the attitude of the “act tough” Badawi government which was endorsed by the Samy Vellu and Gang-led MIC and was seen on national television and published in the mainstream media, revived the spirit and desire for justice among the generally stoic Indians. This was followed by the arrest of Hindraf leaders and some of their key supporters.
The five Hindraf leaders remain under detention, languishing in Kamunting, Perak under the ISA. In the meantime,the MIC continues to divert the attention of their members and supporters away from the real issues like the status of Indian temples throughout the length and breadth of our nation, Tamil language, education, and culture, and economic and social problems (gangsterism and other crimes) of the Malaysian Indian community.
Samy Vellu and the MIC have been thoroughly discredited and any attempt in the eleventh hour by the UMNO-BN clique to prop them up can only be an exercise in futility. The Indian dilemma remains unresolved not because of a lack of will on the part of the Malaysian Indian community iself, but because of wrong leadership. Malaysian Indians have in the past entrusted their just cause—that they should be given their rights as guaranteed under the Constitution—to MIC, but now they have decided under no uncertain terms that they had enough of 50 years of neglect and discrimination, and MIC’s crony politics. They bravely said that enough is enough and the time for change has come.
Yes, they deserve to have Thaipusam declared a public holiday. But why only for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya? Why not make it a national holiday? Even in the case of this “concession”, we are not sure that whether or not it is an one-off deal to appease the deeply spiritual Indians ahead of the elections, touted to be in March 2008. Usually public holidays are gazatted. It is, in my view, only a disingenuous ploy by Prime Minister Badawi and Samy Vellu to placate them.
I am reminded of my school days when our Headmaster declared a day after Sports Day a holiday. We, the school kids, were excited amd most grateful as we were naive and did not know better. So, it is infantile to claim that only through MIC the Indians can now enjoy Thaipusam.
What has MIC been doing over the last 40 years? I have an answer to that—an anwer that every thinking Indian knows—and that is, MIC leaders and their cronies in cahoots with UMNO and MCA have been making money at the expense of their own kind and have done very little for their community. It is sheer arrogance to think that the Malaysian Indian dignity and honour can be bought.
The New Straits Times (January 21, 2008) quoted Badawi as having said at the gathering of MIC members and BN supporters in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur that “it (hardcore poverty) does not exist only in the Indian community. It is also present in the Chinese and Malay communities…In our effort to alleviate poverty, we will ensure no race is excluded. This is my promise”. In order to deal with this problem, a Cabinet Committee on the Hardcore Poor will be formed to lift people of all races out of dire poverty by 2010. Wow, a miracle is about to happen in Boleh Land.
We now have a committee that will lift us out of poverty! No effort is required of any community. Sit back and relax. All our poverty problems will solved. All we need is to ask Royal Professor Ungku Aziz (he was Rural Economics Professor at University of Malaya in the 1960s) and he will tell you in his polite and thoughtful way and on the basis of many decades of research and reflection that the problem of poverty cannot be resolved if there is no political will to breakdown institutional, social and psychological barriers.
How credible is this caring national leader? Over the last 4 years, let us ask Badawi what he did with those promises he made his manifesto for the 2004 elections. As far as I know, he has done nothing but talk. Judge a man by actions, wise men say. Talk is cheap and the man who now is doing the talking is just not credible and the coalition he leads is running out of ideas to solve national problems, except when it comes to announcing projects and programmes which are at best reactive in nature.
I believe that the Malaysian Indian community cannot be hoodwinked to think that MIC and Samy Vellu can solve their problems. MIC led by Samy Vellu is, in fact, their problem.