Friday, April 17, 2009

Marginalisation of the MIC

I know I’ve said it before. You can put a pretty dress and even put lipstick and make-up on a pig but it doesn’t change the fact that the bottom line remains unchanged - it’s still a pig. Of course I know and will concede that Shakespeare’s expression - that a rose by any other name is still a rose – is more elegant than the former. But in this case, given that I’m discussing the MIC, the pig analogy is definitely far more suitable.

It appears that Samy Vellu has affirmed that the MIC will after all remain as part of Najib’s cabinet. This issue was of course something of a news item earlier this week as speculation was rife on whether the MIC, as a result of apparently being shafted on the allocation of cabinet appointments, would express its disappointment and opt out of Najib’s cabinet line-up altogether. Of course it should be abundantly clear for all to see that the MIC’s disappointment (and perhaps frustration) on the lack of recognition given to it was nothing less than the growing marginalisation of the party within the ruling regime.

After over a year of disappointing news followed by more disappointing news, the party, which is now essentially in shambles and still in denial over it, is feeling the frustration of what it’s like to be marginalised by UMNO. I know I’ve already made this point in my previous column, but it really does warrant revisiting the matter. In Malaysian politics where there is no shortage of ironies, this one has got to rank right up there as one of the most illustrative of all-time.

A party which for years has been in absolute denial about the marginalisation of Indians today finds itself marginalised in the ruling coalition. And rightly so.

Denial is an amazing thing. It enables one to continue believing whatever they’ve convinced themselves of even if all the facts indicate that things are not what one thinks they are. Such appears to be the scenario within the MIC. To the Central Working Committee, Samy Vellu is the only one worthy of leading the MIC – despite all indications to the contrary. To the MIC, reform means coming up with new slogans, changing some logo, or perhaps painting the corridor of the MIC offices a different colour and putting up some new decorations in the lobby. Denial means not quite grasping reality.

Call it what you like and dress it up any way you may want; it is what it is. The MIC can dress this in all sorts of way to make the situation look pretty and pleasant – but the truth remains that the Samy Vellu and the MIC look absolutely pathetic. (By the way, this is where the pig metaphor described above comes in.) The MIC will of course deny that it has been marginalised in the BN coalition and in Najib’s cabinet. It’ll try to freshen up and spin the situation; call it something else; anything but marginalisation! Much like someone might try to fool you that just because the pig is wearing lipstick and a nice dress, it’s not a pig.

Oh, and at the risk of sounding like, “I told you so,” I actually did also say the following in my last column:

[D]espite what the MIC and the Central Working Committee may like to project, the donkey has very little options. At the end of the day, it’s got to eat the grass provided by the master.

Notwithstanding the change in metaphor (from the donkey to the pig), I did obviously suggest that despite this marginalisation being experienced by the MIC, it ultimately will stick with its master. This scenario was in fact confirmed as we have discovered that the MIC intends, after all, to be part of the fold of the current cabinet.

I also did say the following: And eating the same grass merely makes it even sicker.

It appears that it really doesn’t matter if we apply the metaphor of the pig or the donkey, does it? Either way, it’ll have to eat the grass provided by the master.

G. Krishnan