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Subra bows out after raising expectations

Contributed by Anonymous on Sunday, February 24 @ 23:42:59 CST

Baradan Kuppusamy | Feb 25, 08 Malaysiakini comment Owning your own newspaper is a real advantage but when the crunch comes you still have to bite the bullet.

Using the Makkal Osai Tamil daily, former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam had everyone, at least in the Indian community, on their toes holding their breath with speculative stories of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition fielding him as a candidate and on his impending challenge against his arch enemy MIC president S Samy Vellu in the Sungai Siput parliamentary constituency.

The paper, variously quoting sources, insiders, knowledgeable people, created a wave that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had met Subramaniam and offered him a seat to counter the growing influence of Hindraf.

It was a hot topic in the community and divided the people considerably.

The majority of the people, at least those I know, were asking, "What is this guy up to? Why should Umno give him a seat? How can he counter Hindraf ... after all, he is hardcore MIC?”

Many individuals predicted the ‘seat for Subra’ stories were just Subramaniam's way to keep him in the news using the newspaper his supporters own. But some readers were taken up with the rumour-driven stories and are now "considerably" depressed that their man is not fielded.

The second item hoisted on the community by Makkal Osai, again quoting sources, is that Subramaniam will finally take own his nemesis Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput.

"Expect an important announcement today," screamed the daily on the front-page on Friday raising expectation that a "mother of all battle" was to erupt between the MIC No 1 and his former No 2.

In the end, the important announcement was disappointing. Subramaniam said he would never leave the MIC as his heart is with the Indian-based party. He will not challenge Samy and worst for many Indians in their current ugly mood, he will back BN - all the way.

Nomination day an anti-climax

Nomination day yesterday caught Indian Malaysians in a anti-climax mood. Those few who had expected Subramaniam to fight ended up disappointed seeing him crawl into his familiar corner leaving Samy Vellu unchallenged in the boxing ring.

The philosophy of the day is that even if you have your own newspaper to publish speculative stories, crunch time is waiting and if you don't bite the bullet, you end up as a paper tiger.

Some Hindraf supporters were taken up with the hype over Subramaniam. If Abdullah really fields him against Samy Vellu's express wishes it would be the strongest signal yet from the BN boss that Samy Vellu's days are numbered.

If Subramaniam had challenge Samy Vellu as speculated by Makkal Osai it would have been another strong signal that Subramaniam is in the favours of the big boss.

Both didn't happen, leaving many people upset. "This is his usual game," said a tea stall operator and MIC veteran in Kapar. "If you have a newspaper, you can generate public interest about yourself.

"But eventually people get smarter and lose respect for you," he said.

A difficult balancing act

Subramaniam, although seemingly a ‘rebel’ in the MIC walks a tight rope like other MIC leaders because of the growing influence of Hindraf which has succeeded in mobilising the Tamil masses against the government.

Their mood is ugly now and there is only one thing in their minds - vote opposition on March 8.

Subramaniam, being a life-long government man, has the unenviable task to portray himself as a ‘rebel’ to gain mileage from the Hindraf groundswell but at the same time he has to remain loyal to the MIC which is the only political vehicle he has if he wants to step back into the mainstream.

Worst he has to reaffirm his loyalty to the BN by publicly announcing he is supporting Barisan and will work to its victory. He did this on nomination eve. And that statement presumably includes support for MIC candidates - all loyal to Samy Vellu.

It is indeed a difficult balancing act.

But after waiting for nearly 30 years for Samy Vellu to give up his MIC presidency, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. All the forces are finally coming together and aligning against Samy Vellu - in Umno, BN, the Indian community and even in MIC.

This is a dream come true for Subramaniam but the question now is can he manage the forces and ride it to success? So far he has not.

It was a mistake to create "news" that Abdullah is giving you a seat to contest. It was also a mistake to indicate that he will challenge Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput.

He could have been a hero

If he had actually challenge Samy he would have rewritten his sorry history as a politician with one master stroke. He would have focused national attention on himself and the challenge to defeat Samy Vellu would have dominated this 12th general election.

He need not have defeated Samy Vellu but just cut down his majority to a few hundred votes. He would finally have been the hero he had tried but failed to be all these years.

In Tamil culture, heroes always take up just causes with strength and conviction. They need not succeed but history remembers them as heroes and they are worshiped even today in the form of nattukal (stone shrines) all across Tamil country.

Justice is a cardinal element of heroism in Tamil culture and if Subramaniam had challenge Samy Vellu, his challenge would be seen as a just cause and the Indian community would have rallied to his banner. He could have overshadowed Hindraf and win some mileage for the BN.

He would have been a hero. Instead using one’s newspaper to portray oneself as a hero no longer work anymore with the politically awakened Indian community.



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