Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MIC's 'An evening with the PM' -- eye-witness account

Eye Witness Account of What Really Happened At at MIC's 'An evening with the PM'

This report is an eye-opener of what transpired at the Evening with PM program. Thanks to Nanda who took the effort and time to write the report. There were some doubts on the number of people who attended, and according to the report below, it could be about 6000 only.

Taken from Haris Ibrahim's blog

Nanda was at MIC's 'An evening with the PM' at the Stadium Badminton in Cheras yesterday.

He sent in an excellent account of the event. I've reproduced the same below.

Thanks, Nanda.


I took the Putra LRT from KLCC to Masjid Jamek and then Star LRT from Masjid Jamek to Maluri. There was significant difference this time when I was in the lrt, it was nothing like 25th November 2007 on Hindraf rally. Somehow, apart from myself, I couldn't identify anyone else heading to where I was going.

1415H - Arrived at the Cheras Badminton Stadium. I saw a couple of school buses parked in front and people getting down from the bus. An MIC member wearing a tag identifying himself as one of the people in charge of security began to address the people getting down from the bus to obtain tags as they will not be allowed to enter without the tags. Got one for myself and lingered around the entrance. Red carpet being unrolled by some youngsters, a group of traditional Indian drum players were at sight and went over to talk to them. Friendly chap, said he's from Ampang, different groups all called by the MIC to come and escort the arrival of PM with their music. Smiled kindda knowingly as he saw me with notepad in my hands.

They had security checks at the entrance. Cops were holding metal detectors but somehow not that stringent I would say. However, they made the participants leave their water bottles outside, similar to when we're boarding an international flight.

A few more buses arrive. Few more people came down. A group of elderly, older than my grandma, stepped down from the bus and proceeded slowly to the stadium. I went in as well.

1430H - Went in. People handing out car stickers. A guy handed out a questionnaire. Took one for the purpose of sharing with everyone. Looked for a place somewhat in the middle of the hall.

There was a live band or sort of it. 2 well known Malaysian Indian singers (though I don't know who these people are) were singing songs from 60's. Somehow this performance was irritating and was getting on my nerves. They kept singing songs by the late MGR and his songs are known for their moral contents especially patriotic ones. One guy dressed up like MGR and started walking around the stadium and doing some antics. At least it entertained a few elderly but somehow many did not appreciate this. It somehow reflects the perception of MIC towards the people that would be attending. That the people can still find 60's MGR song meaningful and the fact that there was this guy acting like him would somehow rekindle patriotic sentiments. Perhaps rekindle may be inaccurate as it suggests the feeling was gone at some point which I don't believe is true.

People sat down filling in the questionnaire. The lady behind me had to translate the questionnaire in order for some of the people to understand it. Not only that, I saw a guy changing his/someone's initial response to the response that the government would like in the questionnaire

The singing was accompanied with praises for Samy Velu. The singers even incorporated these praises into their songs. In the stadium, I saw 7 different banners and they read:

1) Kaum India menyokong penuh Parti Barisan Nasional. Hidup BN

2) Dato' Seri Samy Velu, Teruskan Perjuangan Bersama Pak Lah

3) Kami Menyokong Penuh Kepimpinan Pak Lah. We love U Pak Lah

4) Kami Mendoakan Pilihan Raya Umum Kali ke-12 menjadi milik penuh BN

5) Kami berdiri teguh di belakang YB Dato' Seri S. Samy Velu

6) Terima Kasih Pak Lah

7) Thank You Pak Lah

Spoke to the gentleman sitting next to me. He said he's from Sepang, a group of them came from there. He's an MIC division head. Somehow doesn't agree with what's happening, I presume, he kept telling me they are treating the whole thing like some joke or something of that sort (referring to the antics of the MGR). Asked him, what is the entire program all about, will there be a Q&A session ala forum? He said definitely not. If there's Q&A and we are allowed to speak, things will turn out differently, he said with a smile. Somehow this guy can sense the general feeling among Indians but yet he's there I believe because of his post.

1500H - Samy Velu arrives, waves at the crowd. Some applause, but most were indifferent. Then he went out to wait for Pak Lah I believe.

The acting MGR chose this time to sing 'ask not what the country did for you, but rather ask what you did for your country'

All these acts in my opinion are targeted to woo the elderly. I can see some apparent disgusted look on some youngsters. These MIC people were unashamedly singing praises for Samy Velu, which somehow made me feel they may need to reassure themselves actually and that's why they keep repeatedly proclaim the greatness of Samy Velu and Pak Lah.

Posters of Sharlinie were handed out. Somehow puts some perspective on the state of affairs in our country. I need not say more.

1620H - Heard the traditional drum sound. Pak Lah must have arrived. Crowd stood up. The crowd was standing for almost 5 minutes. Pak Lah took his seat and the MC started the greetings. Among the VIPs present were Pak Lah and his wife, Samy Velu, Dato' Saravanan, Dato' Sharizat and Dato Zulhasnan Rafiq.

The number of people present in the stadium based on my estimation by counting and multiplying the rows of chairs earlier is about 6000. Earlier I mentioned to Haris it may be 8,000 to 10,000 but nope, I was wrong. The entire group in that stadium is not as large as the Hindraf group that was gathered in the Jalan Ampang stretch in front of Zouk and Restoran Saloma. Nope. If we see a different number in MSM, well, that's what we expect they'd say anyways.

First speech was by Dato' Saravanan. He started of by saying he was appointed with a difficult task which was to get the Indians to gather 3 days before Thaipusam but the crowd sitting in front of him was the proof of unwavering total support for BN. In Tamil language, he said the crowd is the proof of support for Samy Velu. He pledged his support for Samy Velu and then asked the crowd to stand up and give a round of applause which was heeded enthusiastically only by some. The rest seem indifferent.

This was followed by the Upacara Pengkalungan Bunga. Samy Velu to Pak Lah. Saravanan to Samy Velu. Chandrasegaran to Zulhasan.

Then Samy Velu was invited to give a speech. Again, lukewarm response from the crowd.

'Perjumpaan ini adalah perjumpaan yang unik.. Untuk mendengar amanat dan nasihat dari Perdana Menteri kita, Pak Lah'. That was in the opening paragraph of his speech. He continued to rain praises for Pak Lah proclaiming Pak Lah is the true leader for all Malaysians. I qoute ' telinga beliau sentiasa terbuka'.

He went on to explain that MIC has always championed the Indian cause and he always speaks regarding the issues of the Malaysian Indians to Pak Lah in cabinet meetings.

Speaking in Tamil language, Samy went on to go back in history where he said the Indians were brought in and they planted rubber and made the nation rich but at that time the Brits exploited them. 'At that time,' Samy said,' We cannot speak up, else, we'll be caught by the Brits.' At this juncture, I would have loved to ask, how is it different with present time? How do you answer to the family of the 75 people presently detained under the Internal Security Act?

Anyway, Samy went on to proclaim that the Indians have always been loyal and faithful to the BN since Perikatan Days. He said MIC is an invaluable friend for UMNO. He said, he acknowledges that there are some weakness but they are working on it. At this point, Pak Lah was asleep and was slowly woken up by his wife's voice I believe. Samy Velu then went on to say,'MIC machinery is ready! Tentera MIC sudah siap sedia! Hanya tunggu senjata!' I leave it to you to decide what does 'senjata' refer to in this statement. Samy said 'Kita mahu hapuskan semua parti pembangkang.'

Samy took a few potshots at Hindraf. He didn't mention the word Hindraf at all but one can make sense of whom he was referring to. Claiming MIC is ready to meet challenges upfront, likening Hindraf's actions akin to stabbing from the back. He went on to again proclaim as though Pak Lah was the only saviour of the Malaysian Indian community. He mentioned that not only Indians are struggling but everyone is struggling. 300 million was given by government to look into the conditions of Tamil Schools, he said. Nothing mentioned regarding the demolition of temples.

Samy said he's been travelling till 1 or 2am for the past weeks meeting up with people from all walks of life. Youths and elderly alike. He challenged and said ,'only MIC! Who other than MIC?! No one can serve the Indian community other than BN and MIC.' He sang a portion of an old song urging everyone to be united.

He thanked the crowd and again sang praises for PM. Then asked crowd to stand up and clap for PM. They chanted hidup Pak Lah but only a few rows from the middle segment of the stadium stood up. The rest remained seated indifferently.

MC took over and said 'Malaysia Boleh! UMNO Boleh! BN Boleh!' which is kindda confusing to me as to what made the MC say UMNO boleh. Why UMNO? How is it relevant in the context of today's meeting? Is MIC equating UMNO to BN and UMNO to Government? I don't know, you tell me.

MC invited PM to speak. Again, only about 10 rows of people from the middle segment stood up despite the urging by the MIC security personnel. The rest didn't bother to stand or clap for that matter.

Pak Lah started by proclaiming that MIC is a friend of UMNO. He pledged if MIC has any problems, UMNO would definitely lend a hand. Pak Lah said he's really happy with the turnout and that this was the MIC's largest gathering. He recap the history of MIC and UMNO who are partners since the Perikatan days. Pak Lah said his cabinet never decides on anything unless it was agreed by all the members. If there's a single person not agreeing they will discuss again. Note that for disagreeing, he didn't mention anything regarding Party whip.

Pak Lah strongly claimed that Samy has been fighting for the Indians in the cabinet.

Pak Lah said we have managed to improve the status of poverty but there are still hardcore poverty among all the races. 'Kita bukan negara maju lagi, kita masih sedang membangun, kita belum maju.' 'Satu janji kerajaan BN adalah kita mesti menghapuskan kemiskinan tegar di kalangan semua rakyat tanpa mengira bangsa menjelang 2010.' Pak Lah pledged, 'Saya akan tubuhkan satu parti, satu jabatan dalam kabinet saya untuk menghapuskan kemiskinan tegar.'

Pak Lah said about the free school fees which brought some murmurs among the people in the crowd because he did not even touch on the rude surprise that parents faced when they thought the fees are free but yet they are imposed with some amount of money and the reaction from Hishamuddin which was too defensive and not befitting a minister. No mention about all these and no explanation. Just a statement that fees are free which in my humble opinion is not the entire truth.

Pak Lah went to announce that Thaipusam has been declared Public Holiday in Federal Territory. Note the magnitude of applause for this statement as compared to all the others in the video.

Pak Lah continued for a few minutes about the importance to help government and support the government. He thanked the people for their support and then ended his speech.

Upon the end of Pak Lah's speech, some people stood up, the rest remained indifferent and then the MC announced the event is over and everybody started to walk out of the hall.

Again, I saw the elderly ladies, older than my grandma walking slowly. I can't help pondering, is it justified in the eyes of the organisers to bring these people, some people who are ill informed on the actual state of affairs make them forgo an entire day from the total remaining days of their lives for the sake of putting this up?The grandma may not even have understood what Pak Lah said. And the abruptness to which these people are forgotten makes me sick. For right after Pak Lah said thank you and left, everyone just wanted to see him off properly and the rest of the people in the hall are slowly trickling away to their buses to head back. And that's it, mission accomplished, all nice and pretty for the Premier and Samy, now you guys can go back and do whatever you want, we don't wanna know about it anymore.

I walked away.

1 comment:

multidimid said...

Samy & Abdullah Salvaging the Indian Votes or the GE
When Samy Vellu & MIC organized this well orchestrated gathering in the confines of a badminton hall to stoke & fan the dying embers of the Indians flames for BN after realizing the potential danger the Indian voters can hold sway between 10 and 30 per cent of the voters in at least 62 parliamentary and 130 state constituencies. PM Abdullah responded with the carrot and has Thaipusam declared a Public Holiday in KL & Putrajaya and the formation of a High-Powered Committee To Eradicate Hardcore Poverty Among All Races. – just a pre-election promise. This must be a last ditch & desperate effort before the GE campaign proper for we have seen it all in Ijok by-election. Will it work in the next GE after all the humiliation the protesters had to subject themselves in the aftermath of the Nov 25 Hindraf Rally? It will be a futile effort with the Hindraf 5 still languishing in the Kamunting under ISA detention and about to begin a hunger strike to highlight the injustice they have to suffer in the cause of the Malaysian Indians
More details, pics & Video clip of gathering