The closing posts for 2007 would not be complete without a post on one of the main event of this year – Hindraf rally protests in the streets of the Malaysian capital city. Image source: Malaysiakini
Started by BERSIH and eventually erupting during the HINDRAF’s rally, it probably has changed the political landscape for Pak Lah and perhaps Malaysian political field. What was portrayed as “Mr Clean”, Pak Lah’s image has been shaken up by these street protests and it was timely so too – the election is around the corner, daily expenses have gone up, the public been imposed with high toll & petroleum charges and the fight against corruption is still bland as before.
Let’s talk about Hindraf – it probably had more implications when it comes to street protests more than the also successful BERSIH protest.
Indian & Street Rally
We have to say that it was unprecedented!
It is not that Indians had never protested before – they have done it before especially when it came to the betterment of life in rubber estates and demolishment of temples but probably never on a larger scale. But when HINDRAF organised the street rally, it was unprecedented because never before Indians had ignored the threats of arrest and strong actions by the police to walk down the streets facing water cannons and tear gases to highlight their stand.
It was unprecedented because it was not done on such a big scale and well organised. By then, the Government should have realised that there is a need to listen to this grievousness. But unfortunately, those who were participated in this rally were labelled as criminals and hard actions were taken thereafter.
Impression on MIC
At the end of the day, MIC ended up looking like a total failure and probably they are – they still unable to resolve the temple demolishment, something that very sensitive to the Hindus and probably the factor that sparked the Hindraf rally. MIC did try to do some damage control by highlighting the “work” that it has done for the Indians but the fact is the rally has eroded some support that it has among Indians.
MIC has guarded its “Indian turf” rather viciously starting with its long time President. When Mahathir and Lim Leong Sik retired gracefully, Samy Vellu marched on. It seems that the Indians in this country will be “lost” without the MIC supremo firmly in power. It seems like there was “unfinished work” by Samy Vellu when it comes to the betterment of the Indians in Malaysia.
For some of us, “unfinished work” simply means someone clinging on to the power for personal gains and nothing more. A wise man will simply allow someone else to finish the work if it has remained “unfinished” under him, right? So when HINDRAF rallied, it did shatter MIC’s invulnerability and perhaps made it to work harder to convince the Indians that MIC was still relevant in the community. Tough job boys!
Then again, to blame it on a political party may be a bit extreme because achievements in education, business and socio standing at the end of the day, still rely on the individual shoulders. Being used to the “Ketuanan Melayu” crap that is grossly unfair to all Malaysians, the Indians should have by now built up their resilience to meet challenges both locally and internationally. To continue to hand out for Government intervention makes it no different to the ones handing out their hand under the “Never Ending Policy”.
Indians have realised this by now and they are better off than before but the question is – was it due to MIC or due to the individuals who were convinced that it is up to them to better themselves?
The question was why the Government was so inclined to stop street protests violently and why the unnecessary need for water cannons and tear gas against harmless citizens? When threats did not stop the rally, then the idea of terrorism was cooked to justify the actions against the rally. I have to say cooked up because till this day, no one (from the police or the Government) had actually proved the link between HINDRAF and terror groups.
The mainstream media continued to carry out unproved statements linking HINDRAF and terror groups but where is the proof? When someone linked the actions of the government to ethnic cleansing, Pak Lah banged the table and shouted “where is the proof”. So it is ironic for the Government talking about the links with terror group without producing proof.
The Government acted by imposing the ISA on the Hindraf leaders. If Hindraf was indeed linked with terrorism, then why the Government did not prove it in court and why the Government had to silence the Hindraf leaders with ISA. Why the big secret?
Government’s Flip Flop
Coated unnecessarily as illegal rally (and for some as racists rally), Hindraf rally did bring up the weakness of the Government in managing the welfare of all Malaysians. Whilst it may not have achieved the targets that it was meant to be achieved in its memorandums, it (for right or wrong) created awareness among the Indians (and probably for all minorities in Malaysia) that there is something wrong with the government and that the Indians should start looking for better alternatives and strategy.
The Government itself helped to fuel up street rallies by their inactions and flip flop statements.
In respect of HINDRAF, the call for discussion was not new. HINDRAF did try to talk to the Government in August way back before they came down to the streets in protest. The government shut them down back them but when street rally did eventually erupted, the Government tried to look like angel and call for a face to face talk with HINDRAF. Once again HINDRAF tried to meet up with the Government but once again, the Government went back on their words and shut HINDRAF down – a clear case of flip flop decision from Pak Lah’s end.
And what about the talk of setting up a committee to look after the non-Muslim’s affairs in this country? After several cheap talks, it eventually went up in smoke. Pak Lah announced that there is already enough things in place to take care of non-Muslim’s affairs. In other words, it was back to status quo.
“The silent majority” – a name that Government calls on those who did not participate in street rally. Criminals, instead, was painted on those did. How ironic? If one noticed that the “silent majority” speak out after the rally, it seems to say that the street rally was wrong. But was it? Certainly, those who participated in the street rally were no criminals either. They were just ordinary people who have gotten frustrated.
And talking about DAMAI, if you think they are representing the “Silent Majority” then you are dead wrong. They are nothing but the Government stooges put in place for damage control. The fact that the “majority” of those representing are from political party, it does nothing but only dilutes the very credibility of those who claim representing the silent majority. Besides if we wanted for someone to represent us, we would vote for representative in the general election (we should vote for real representatives instead of those political party “yes man” now crowding the Parliament House).
At the height of the HINDRAF issue, one politician said that there are poor people in every community. Whilst it is true, one cannot ignore the Government’s role in making the rich to be richer and the poor to be poorer. It has channelled resources to the wrong persons and wrong agendas making the poor to remain poor.
Never End Policy (NEP) is one of the main culprits and the Government is dead on to continue to sustain this grossly unfair policy. Why?
Shouldn’t this apartheid alike policy be replaced with a policy that looks at status of income rather than colour of the skin to ensure uniform distribution of wealth? HINDRAF did not question the rights of the Bumiputera but rather questioned the denied rights of the minority Indians. And why they are not far off from the truth? If a rich Bumiputera has been accorded a special discount to buy an expensive house, tell me how this helping the poor Bumiputera?
A continuation of a policy that looks at the colour of the skin rather than the state of income will ultimately cause a pool of poor people in every community. For those who have not been directly “covered” under the policy, the pool is even bigger.
The call for change and frustrations against the Government eventually boiled over and spill to the streets. If the Government decides to ignore it and choose to sweep it under the carpet as it was done many times before, the Government may writing their doom themselves.
Malaysians are coming to an age where they are no longer considered mindless dummies for political parties to continue to be in power.
Political parties should know by now that for every wrong & corrupt action condoned & acted by them is now clearly registered by Malaysians and in time, these will be represented into voting out the corrupt, wasteful and arrogant out from office.