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
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
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
"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
Nomination day an
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.
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.
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
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.
eventually people get smarter and lose respect for you," he said.
A difficult balancing
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
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
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
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.