MIC president Samy Vellu was booed and publicly humiliated when he turned up to officiate at the Aattam 100 Vagai 3 (100 types of dance) performance at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) last night.
Sources tell me the crowd of 2,000-3,000 shouted obscenities at him including “po-dah” (the rude version of “get lost”) and he didn’t get a chance to complete his speech. One source told me he was surprised to hear that the women in the audience appeared more aggressive in admonishing Samy.
Bear in mind, this was a cultural event and not a political forum, so it would have been attended by a diverse crowd of Indian Malaysians – who have now become politically awakened as never before.
The event was supposed to be telecast “live” by Astro Vaanavil (Channel 201) and beamed to India, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Apart from Astro, the media partners supporting the dance show were Sri Lanka Rupavhini (TV) Corporation, Jaya TV India, Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation and Media-Corp TV12 Singapore Pte. Ltd. So Samy’s image in the region would have suffered more than a little dent.
Earlier yesterday, Samy Vellu was huddled with Penang MIC division heads in a closed-door meeting at the Equatorial Hotel near Pisa, probably discussing the Hindraf developments. I gather that 40-50 outsiders, probably Hindraf supporters, were prevented from nearing the hotel during the day.
Such is the anger on the ground among Indian Malaysians that Samy Vellu’s political days could well be numbered. In fact, I would say he has become a major political liability for the BN – but then who else have they got in the MIC? Then again, it’s not any single individual that Indian Malaysians are upset about (though Samy is probably the focal point of their frustration in view of scandals such as the Maika fiasco) – it’s the whole system they are railing against: the sense of being economically marginalised and disempowered for so long (in the same way that many other Malaysians of other ethnic groups are).
If at the last general election, the MIC delivered 80-90 per cent of the Indian Malaysian vote to the Barisan, several Indian Malaysians I have met are predicting that this time the MIC would be hard-pressed to deliver even 10 per cent.
That may be wishful thinking – and an underestimation of the BN “machinery” and mastery of racial politicking – but all indications are that the MIC is going to suffer a serious setback at the polls. (It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out!) And that could spell trouble for the BN in a string of constituencies, especially in areas where the majorities were wafer-thin in the 2004 general election.
Meanwhile, Anwar Ibrahim has been hitting the hustings in Penang over the weekend, holding a series of talks and forums in the state. From what I hear, he has been drawing significant multi-ethnic turnouts at some of these events including a session with Indian Malaysian squatters in Bukit Gelugor who are facing eviction. He promised them that, if elected, he would try and do something about their plight.
He appears to be having some impact, working the ground. Have a look at this Malaysiakini videoclip to see the rapport he has struck with Indian Malaysians at an earlier rally in Jalan Kebun, Klang on 14 Dec attended by 4,000 people.
The BN has good reason to be worried. All of a sudden, cracks are appearing in the BN fold and the juggernaut appears to be creaking. Will Samy dare to show up at any other public event in the future? Stay tuned…