Friday, May 23, 2008

Are the Chickens Starting to Come Home...?

While most of us were occupied by the internal feuding going on at UMNO, we have been abruptly reminded that another component party of the BN is apparently drifting in some troubled ocean waters and the sailing is not so smooth after all.

According to a report on Malaysia-Today (, the Klang MIC chairman, Mr. Tiagarasan, has filed a police report against Samy Vellu and his son Vel Pari for allegedly swindling funds from Maika Holdings. Clearly, this is not the first MIC official to raise the spectre of wrongdoing and impropriety by the MIC boss. Just days ago it was reported ( that Samy had a burst-up with one of his vice-president, Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar, over the apparent dismissal of the Kapar division chairman, S. Subramaniam, regarding finances having to do with the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology.

Are these two incidents of discord within the MIC, both to do with apparent (mis)management of accounts and alleged financial wrongdoing, merely coincidences? I, for one doubt it. I put a lot of stock in the expression, ‘where there is smoke, there probably is fire’ – or at least a fire in the making! And this brings me back to the MIC. Some defenders of the party have been putting stock in Samy to lead the party to a new dawn. Samy will be the man to deliver them from the ashes of March 8, 2008. For them, Samy has been their ‘democratically’ elected leader. And their blind faith in him and his race-based patronage politics is not only politically expedient, it has been the oxygen and nourishment that has helped sustained the MIC and Samy. I am convinced that this crowd of Samy’s cronies and apologists deserve the political beating they have taken. Perhaps they are far from being able to feel any humiliation and remorse for the widely known tragic state of affairs for a huge segment of the Malaysian Indian population.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Samy has, on numerous occasions made it fairly easy for his critics to raise many questions about him and even to demonise him. Now again, these newly reported internal feuds provide a fine opportunity to expose Samy in the court of public opinion. After all, he is a public figure and this comes with the territory.

I, as much as the next person, want to see that, if proven so, Samy is held responsible for any illegal conduct. But my point here is not to be wishful about the potential outcomes of any apparent illegal conduct or internal conflict in the MIC as reflected in the incidents noted above. Rather, while I take some solace in the fact that there may, after all, be some fire catching on in the MIC and that some in the ‘inner circle’ may well be waking up to the fact that the ship they’re on is drifting to nowhere, I can’t help but wonder about how Samy has in fact managed to wield such control over the organisation and the lives of so many for so long. Perhaps there has been a deep malady that has inflicted Malaysian Indians. I am reminded of the saying: ‘we get the government we deserve.’ In a similar vein, perhaps we Indians have had the kind of representatives and leaders we deserve. Perhaps it has been our own failing, our own indifference, and our own complacency that has made it possible for the likes of Samy Vellu to thrive, to dictate, to dominate, to flaunt, to be dismissive and to control. Perhaps it is because, by our own silence or indifference, we give such people the licence to continue indulging in ‘business as usual.’

The leaders of Hindraf and others have shown us that it need not be ‘business as usual.’ In some ways, it appears that others too – even within the MIC – are speaking out. Could the dismissal of S. Subramaniam and Tiagarasan’s action be signs that the chickens are starting to come home to roost for Samy? Perhaps. If March 9, 2008 marked the official beginning of the end for Samy’s political fortunes, could this be a sign that there is some significant fragmentation in the ranks and this is something more evident than it has been in a while in the MIC? Perhaps.

But more than that, I hope it is another sign of our awakening; a sign of a mutiny on the ship so that we can deliver it out of the treacherous waters and take control of our destiny.

G. Krishnan