Sunday, May 30, 2010

All is not well in MIC

Though the turn-out for the Gerakan Anti-Samy (GAS) meeting today at the Mines Convention Centre in Seri Kembangan was poor, it does not mean that all is well in MIC.

Party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who also sacked secretary-general S. Murugessen for standing up and criticising him, must realise that although he has the power to sack his enemies and replace them with friends, it is the party - and the Indian community - that will suffer.

By sacking his enemies - MIC Central Working Committee members K.P. Samy, G. Kumar Aamaan and former Petaling Jaya MIC Division Chief V. Subramaniam or Bharat Maniam -before Murugessen was kicked out, Samy may be able to cling on to power. But at what cost?

The Indian community are watching the events unfolding like a bad Hindi movie but the scenes missing are the joyous moments of singing and dancing. The Indians who, more often than not, feel they have been discriminated against by Government policies and have been left out of economic progress have nothing to be joyous about. Especially when the political party that purportedly represents them seems to be heading to self-destruction.

Samy may end up still in control of a party that means little to the Indian community and Malaysian society. And being king of a little kingdom, Samy could still spew out a lot of hot air and GAS, but the dwindling audience would slowly leave the cinema hall before the movie ends.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Samy Vellu hit by GAS attack

GAS what? Another component party of Barisan Nasional is going through upheaval.

There seems to be a little revolt going on in MIC with its secretary-general S. Murugesan openly questioning president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu's dismissal of four leaders for criticising his leadership.

Murugesan is the highest-ranking MIC official so far to attack Samy Vellu who has backed off somewhat by saying today that he will leave earlier than planned (Sept 2011) if he is given "other responsibilities" outside the MIC.

This GAS attack is the most serious so far and it appears to be gaining momentum, especially in MIC.

Despite what Samy Vellu thinks, he is not that popular among MIC members (though most of the leaders are the president's men) and he is definitely not popular among the Indian community.

In showbiz, there is a saying that an artiste should go when the going is good so that people will remember him with fondness. In other words, one should not overstay one's welcome - if an artiste retires when his career is going downhill rather than at the peak of his career, people will remember him for his failures instead of his successes.

will that be the case for Samy Vellu? If he decides to go now, it will be during the downward spiral of his political career. Will people speak well of him in the future? Will people remember him for his political struggle (if any) for the Indians? Or will people remember him for refusing to go while his party was losing its relevance to the Indians?

In other words, does Samy Vellu want to be remembered for leading MIC into oblivion?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sibu's mini tsunami

The political tsunami reached the shores of Sarawak a bit late - two years' late - but some observers and the Opposition leaders would say it's better late than never.

The slim victory by DAP in Sibu - the Pakatan Rakyat candidate Wong Ho Leng polled 18,845 votes against Barisan Nasional's Robert Lau's 18,447 votes - was interpreted by some observers as the March 2008 political tsunami having made its way to Sarawak, the bastion of Barisan power.

Other observers say it is a case of the worst kind of divisive racial politics from peninsular Malaysia that has been exported to Sarawak.

They say that Sarawak has always been a racially harmonious state with Muslims eating halal food in the same coffeeshops that sell pork kolo noodles to non-Muslim customers and nobody kicks up a fuss.

But the peninsular politicians have exported their Muslim vs non-Muslim dichotomy to Sarawak and exploited issues of religion like Pas' aim to have an Islamic state and the court's decision on the usage of 'Allah', the Arabic word for god, by the Catholic Church's magazine. Allegations of Bibles being seized and burnt were also exploited by the Opposition.

The observers also say that the Chinese voters in Sibu are more sophisticated now and politics of development no longer infuence them and they are now more concerned about national issues like freedom of worship, corruption, equality and human rights.

Another factor that influenced the Sibu by-election was the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, leader of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu which represents the minority Melanau and Malay Muslims, who has turned out to be a liability in this by-election and he was notably absent from several ceramahs held by top Barisan (and Umno) leaders.

Allegations about his family's wealth and influence were openly discussed in coffeeshops (where Muslims ate their halal nasi campur and non-Muslims ate minced pork kolo mee next to each other) and ceramahs and Barisan seemed unable to respond to these allegations (simply because it is true that Taib is rich and influential).

It would appear that the Chinese in Sarawak, just like those in peninsular Malaysia, are loyally pro-Opposition while the younger generation of Sarawakians, especially the Ibans, are anti-establishment. This potent combination resulted in a mini tsunami that pushed DAP's Wong to the finishing line just 398 votes ahead of Barisan's Robert Lau.

The shocking results of the Sibu by-election will have great repercussions because it means Barisan, especially the Sarawak Barisan leaders, will have to relook and rethink their strategies since there will have to be State elections by May next year.

Though Barisan leaders can say it is just one Parliamentary seat that fell, it could be the the first wave of a more powerful and destructive tsunami if the leaders fail to take note of the reasons for the defeat.

As for Taib, he must realise that despite his wealth and power, he is all too human and the sun may be setting on the empire of the White Rajah. Just like one or two other leaders in the peninsula, Taib could be overstaying his welcome and it is perhaps time to pass the baton of power on to a younger generation of leaders, hopefully not from his family.

A dynasty is possibly the worst thing to happen to Barisan in Sarawak.