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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ambiga to contest in GE…


In the aftermath of the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally, Malaysia now has a third force.
COMMENT
Imagine if the above headline is for real and the Bersih 3.0 chairperson decides to enter the political ring instead of delivering blows from the sidelines.
Will she win? Given the right constituency, she will probably knock out her opponent(s) cold.
Although Bersih consists of a steering committee made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds with a common objective, it is S Ambiga who has become the face of the movement and the punching bag of its detractors.
Ask any burger seller, posterior excercise specialist or ikan bakar connoisseur and he or she will attest to this.
During the last general election, observers credited, among others, the mammoth Hindraf protest as being one of the catalysts behind the voters casting their ballots for the opposition.
Hindraf managed to awaken the Indian community from its deep political slumber and at the same time sent their traditional representative MIC into near coma.
Now, observers claim that Ambiga is the new Hindraf and the Indians are fuming once again, this time over the manner in which she has been abused and ridiculed.
Some even joke that she should contest against MIC president G Palanivel in the coming polls.
The biggest thing around
But Ambiga is much bigger than Hindraf, MIC and Palanivel. In fact, she is probably the biggest thing around at the moment. And unlike the other three, she has international appeal as well.
Realising this, the powers-that-be opted to slap her with a civil suit but hauled several opposition stalwarts to court to face criminal charges over what transpired during the April 28 protest.
The opposition is also aware of her influence and its leaders choose to keep her close, hoping to capitalise on her stardom.
Certain quarters call this hijacking but it is simply a case of common sense – it is wiser to ride a wave instead of attempting to stop it with barricades, burgers, grilled fish and ex-servicemen moonlighting as the Chippendales.
The former Bar Council president is adamant that her movement is apolitical but the critics are not convinced, claiming that there is an abundance of circumstantial evidence that point to the contrary.
Guilty or innocent, one undeniable fact is that Ambiga is now probably just as, if not, more famous than Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
Apart from the tens of thousands who took to the streets in support of Bersih, the government also ensured that her fame reaches dizzying heights with a string of outlandish and bizarre accusations.
Despite being an ethnic Indian, Ambiga has not championed any particular cause related to her race because like her, her struggle is also colour blind.
She is demanding free and fair elections and therefore unlike Hindraf or Perkasa, Ambiga appeals to all races who believe in Bersih’s fight.
Therein, lies the danger.
The new third force
In the 2008 general election, Pakatan Rakyat made unprecedented gains, seizing five states (later reduced to four) and denied Barisan Nasional for the first time, a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Malaysians believed that just like Pakatan’s then election slogan, the nation witnessed a new dawn and things were bound to improve.
But soon the familiar allegations of corruption, cronyism and stifling of dissent began to surface, leading to the conclusion that both political blocs were cast in the same mould.
Then the idea of a third force began to take root but it never blossomed and many politicians and luminaries saw their reputations crumble in the process.
Now in the aftermath of the April 28 rally, Malaysia has a third force in the form of Ambiga and by extension, the movement she leads.
Ambiga has always dismissed the notion of contesting in the election as she apparently detests partisan politics and loves her legal profession.
If that is the case, then she should have stuck to lucrative courtroom battles instead of waging war against the Election Commission in the streets.
So some observers feel that perhaps the time has come for her to put on a pair of boxing gloves and enter the ring as an independent to take the fight to the next level, to become a true representative of the people.
And perhaps the time has also come for Bersih to broaden its scope since electoral irregularities are not the only thing which need cleaning up in Malaysia.
To illustrate his point, one fervent supporter cited a famous Tamil movie which depicts how a journalist is given the opportunity to become chief minister for 24 hours.
During that brief period, he institutes sweeping reforms, earning the admiration of the people and the wrath of ruling politicians.
After he relinquishes his post, he is beaten black and blue by hired thugs.
But the next day, the bandaged hero wakes up to a sea of people gathered outside his house urging him to contest in the elections.
He resists at first but in the true spirit of Indian celluloid melodrama, a disabled youth crawls up to him with a flower garland and whispers these words: “This country is crippled like me. Make it walk!”
Guess what happens next?

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