MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, June 30, 2012

From Uthaya to Ambiga: Indian votes on a golden plate, again?

From Uthaya to Ambiga: Indian votes on a golden plate, again?
COMMENT - The series of harassments and hate speeches against Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, in the framework of Malaysia's racial politics, may prove to be a recipe for disaster for Barisan Nasional at the coming polls.
The latest speech targeting Ambiga came yesterday in the form of a call for her execution, not from right-wing Malay groups linked to UMNO, but from none other than UMNO's member of parliament Mohamad Aziz.
If anything, Aziz's speech is the strongest proof yet that the attacks on Ambiga, who shares the chairmanship of the electoral reforms coalition with Malay poet A Samad Said, have more to do with her race and religion than the challenge she poses to the government.
This view is also echoed by Samad, who wondered why he had not suffered the kind of harassments that Ambiga had been subjected to. These include the 'butt protest' by several UMNO supporters calling themselves army veterans, and other rowdy protests outside her home.
Will such actions result in yet another protest vote against BN by the Indian electorate?
The potent force
The Indian vote bank, despite its seemingly negligible size, remains a potent force in Malaysian politics. After all, the euphoria of sympathy among Malaysian Indians over the persecution of Hindraf following the group's famous rally in 2007 had translated into votes for Pakatan Rakyat candidates in 2008.
Then, the outpouring of sympathy for detained Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar saw many constituencies with seizable Indian votes being snatched away from BN.
One such seat, Selangor's Kota Raja parliamentary seat where one-fourth of voters were Indians, was won by PAS's Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud with a whopping 20,751 majority. Four years earlier, she was defeated by MIC by a majority of 8,239 votes.
And one does not need to mention the unceremonious downfall of what was once hailed as symbol of Indian political power, MIC president S Samy Vellu, who lost the Sungai Siput seat to socialist Xavier Jeyakumar.
This time around, Ambiga, an Indian and a Hindu, may not be representing the Indian-Hindu cause. But that does not necessarily mean the attacks on her are being ignored by the Indian community. It is the kind of sympathy that is only a natural reaction of any minority communities.
Final nail in coffin?
So will the next polls see Indian votes being cast around the Ambiga factor?
"Go anywhere and talk to any Indian, they will tell you that Ambiga is their new icon," says Teluk Intan MP S Manogaran.
Aziz's speech yesterday may just be the final nail on the coffin as far as Indian support for BN is concerned.
Which explains why MIC president G Palanivel wasted no time in condemning Aziz's death call.
Yet, even while grasping what little chance he has been given to redeem himself - and thereby BN's image among Indians - Aziz chose to direct his apology to his BN comrades, not to Ambiga, the woman he had singled out to be hanged for treason.
Not long ago, many might have thought that the series of government gestures to the Indian community following the Hindraf episode would bring their votes back to BN.
Nowadays, with the continuing Ambiga episode, UMNO and its counterparts may have again delivered to Pakatan Rakyat the bulk of Indian votes on a golden plate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.