Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Signs of the times

Umno is sending out a lot of signals, but Uncle Sam-y just does not get it.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will attend the launch of the Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party on Oct 10 while at the 17th IPF annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 27, Barisan Nasional executive secretary Datuk Abu Khamis, representing secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, opened the one-day event.
What Uncle Sam-y has done is to use his Youth Wing chief T. Mohan to say that the Malaysian Indian Congress would not allow another Indian party to be admitted into Barisan Nasional.
Umno - and almost everyone else - knows that fighting the next battle (the general elections) against a so-far quite resilient Pakatan Rakyat would be tough and it would be even worse if its Barisan "friend" MIC enters the fray in its present condition led by stubborn ol' Samy Vellu.
So Umno is courting other Indian parties which may in time be more influential than MIC. Umno is also making use of these other Indian parties to apply pressure on MIC to reform and re-energise.
Samy should take heed of the signals and signs of the times.
There is an urgent need for new faces, new blood, new views and new leaders to lure the new voters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final act: The president outwits his rival?

It seems as if the party president has outwitted his ousted deputy - at least for the time being.
On Saturday night, it was announced that the party's central committee has decided to amend the decision made by the presidential council and suspended the deputy president for four years instead of giving him the sack.
What this means is that the previously-sacked deputy now is no longer the deputy but remains a party member.
That preemptive strike has also resulted in the party's EGM being converted into an academic exercise of sorts because the resolution to reinstate the deputy no longer applies.
The move has taken the wind out of the sails of the deputy's campaign to get back to the party and the president now has the upper hand.
To strengthen his hand even more, the president has said even a simple majority for the resolution for a vote of no confidence against him would mean he has to resign - along with the presidential council because the decision to sack the deputy was a collective one.
In other words, the president has pointedly told his presidential council - which include the Ministers and deputy Ministers - that they will go if he goes. They have effectively been ordered to sink or swim with him.
That means the members of the presidential council will have to ensure that all the delegates under their control will have to back the president - ensuring him of victory.
That appears to be the game plan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sorry, Mahathir

MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has been forced to eat humble pie - he has said he will personally meet with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to apologise for a remark by an MIC delegate to hang a garland of slippers on a portrait of the former PM.
Certain personalities in Malaysia are sacrosanct - Samy Vellu has been in politics long enough to know that.
Even the previous Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi found it hard to criticise Mahathir without having to deal with the repercussions.
Mahathir had been in power for so long that an entire generation of Malaysians grew up during his reign. These younger Malaysians have known no other Prime Minister (okay, Abdullah ruled for a couple of years and now Datuk Seri Najib is in control), but what I mean is that no other personality has left such a deep mark on them. Abdullah's tenure was sadly quite forgettable and Najib has just started things rolling.
Mahathir is that kind of historical figure who achieved greatness. Now that must be something way beyond the reach of Samy Vellu...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slip-per of the tongue

MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has gone too far by allowing a delegate to say that a garland of slippers should be hung on a portrait of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the party's AGM last weekend.
Even though Samy shushed him up the damage has been done.
Now hordes of Malays - and lots of Malaysians - are hammering him and MIC for such an insult. And rightfully so.
To calm things down, he has suspended the delegate but that does not seem to be enough. The people want him and the delegate to apologise.
Samy should have known better than to allow a former PM who is still much revered by Malaysians, despite his faults, to be insulted in such an unbecoming manner.
Perhaps he did not know beforehand what the delegate would say, but shouldn't he have briefed the delegates on the do's and don'ts. After all, aren't they all the president's men?

Monday, September 14, 2009

King Samy

For the moment MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu seems to be riding high - all the king's men have made it and the kingmaker, who happens to be king as well, is basking in all the glory.
His men have criticised former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for slamming Samy Vellu for clinging on to power for too long and even took a dig at the Barisan Nasional government.
Is Samy so cocksure of himself and his support among MIC and the Indian community that he thinks he can take on former and present leaders and get away with it?
One thing is for sure - his support within MIC is strong. After all, the king's men are in power.
But what about support from the Indian community?
Samy Vellu should realise that his party was almost wiped out in the March 8, 2008 general elections and since then he has done little to win back support from the community he claims to represent - he has spent more time and energy fighting his private wars in his party and plotting to put his men in positions of power.
In fact, all the moves to win back support from the people, including the Indians, have been initiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Can anyone name anything concrete that was done for the Indians by Samy Vellu since the last general elections?
Samy Vellu must realise that no king in history has remained in power forever and he must realise that by overstaying his welcome, he may adversely affect not only Barisan Nasional, but his own party as well. It is better for him to bow out (gracefully?) now and let his chosen ones patch up the damage before the next general elections than for him to bow out later and lead his party to oblivion.
What will happen if MIC is totally wiped out in the next general elections? At the rate things are going, such a scenario is very possible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heading for a stalemate?

This afternoon the presidential council of the party decided that only one EGM would be held.
At the same time, supporters of the sacked deputy president submitted 921 signed requisition forms calling for an EGM and put to rest rumours, obviously spread by the other camp, that they did not have the support of one-third (800) of the total of 2,402 central delegates to call for one.
The sacked deputy president meanwhile claimed that he has more than 1,200 delegates behind him.
When the EGM will be held is not known, but one of the resolutions submitted by the sacked deputy president's camp is to call for a vote of no confidence against the president.
What would be really interesting is when neither the president nor the sacked deputy can get the backing of two-thirds of the delegates attending the EGM.
A stalemate will result in even more confusion and a longer battle of attrition. Observers say a stalemate is a highly possible result.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Charge them!

Finally, the government has decided to charge the demonstrators who stepped on and kicked a cow's head during the Aug 28 protest by residents (and non-residents) of Section 23 in Shah Alam who were against the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple to the neighbourhood.
They will be charged with sedition and illegal assembly.
Finally there is some good news for the Indian community who have been hurt and humiliated by irresponsible radicals. In fact, those of other faiths had also followed the events closely as they too could be hurt and humiliated by some other incident some other time in some other place.
People are asking questions - why are such shocking things allowed to occur? Why do the police stand around and do nothing when chauvinists and racists kick a religious symbol around but protestors who do nothing more than hold lit candles and walk from one place to another in a peaceful rally are arrested?
It will obviously be perceived as blatantly unfair and racially biased when the cow-head group comprises mostly Malays and the candle-light vigil protestors are mostly Indians.
How can there ever be a 1Malaysia when different races are treated differently not only by government policies but by the police too?
We will have to wait and see if the courts will be colour-blind and deal with the cow-head protestors fairly...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rise of the racists

Online news portal Malaysiakini has been ordered by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to delete two videos, including one of the cow-head protest in Shah Alam, from its website.

Monitoring and enforcement division senior acting director Abdul Halim Ahmad said in a letter dated Sept 3 that "these videos contain offensive contents with the intent to annoy any person, especially Indians. This is an offence under Section 211/233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998."

In my opinion, this is a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted. It is damage control, but the damage has already been done and repairing the torn ties between the Indians and Malays seems a daunting task.

Furthermore, damage control is futile anyway because the controversial and shocking footage of the Malay-Muslim residents (and apparently some non-residents) of Section 23 of Shah Alam stamping and spitting on the head of a cow to protest against the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood has already been posted on YouTube and nobody knows how many people have already downloaded it and/or e-mailed it to their friends. There are lots of copies of the disgustng video in cyberspace.

It is impossible for MCMC to track down every copy and get the video deleted from the Internet. The enforcement guys should acknowledge that it is mission impossible - I'm not talking about the movies - and it would be a sheer waste of time and effort trying to censor the Internet.

What not only the MCMC enforcement officials but all Malaysians should ask is why such a shocking incident occurred in the first place.

What happened to the admirable Malaysian attitude of tolerance? What happened to the unwritten rules of courtesy, understanding, respect for each other's beliefs and knowing the limits that Malaysians had abided by in the peaceful past?

The leaders have been talking about unity in diversity and how great a melting pot of races and cultures Malaysia is, but the people - at least a radical section of them - have been out of sync with political rhetoric.

The folks in the Tourism Ministry have been telling foreigners to visit Malaysia for its rich cultural diversity and see how peaceful and harmonious the multi-racial people are, but the reality is that there are great lacerations in the social fabric - the doors have swung open and the racists have bolted out and are wreaking havoc on the community of innocents.

And the authorities always react after the horses have bolted - after the cow head has been kicked around, in the case of the Shah Alam incident. BTW, the police just stood by and watched while the cow's head was trampled on, but they did apologise for their inaction.

It is time to reflect on where we as a nation are heading to. We have a choice - either we work hard to become a united Malaysian society living, as the tourism brochures and politicians say, in peace and harmony or we tear ourselves apart by creating more racial/religious tension by being increasingly racist and chauvinistic and do really insensitive things like stamping on a cow's head