The opposition leader is said to be courting several MIC leaders to join PKR. But is this a worthwhile venture or a possible shot to the foot?
The one who dared challenge him is now stricken with illness and his days of political jousting are over. But he too was not spotless either.
The man was a master politician and strategist. But he is accused of numerous acts of corruption and of failing to uplift the socio-economic standard of the community which he represented.
His detractors claim he propagated the culture of violence which the party has become synonymous with and picked leaders not based on merit but those capable of blind obedience.
In the 2008 general election, the titan was defeated in his fortress and this marked the beginning of the end of his illustrious political career.
And when S Samy Vellu stepped down as MIC president, the successive leadership was touted as a new dawn for the community, which will lead the Indians out of the dark ages.
But if the former president is guilty of the acts of corruption he has been accused of, then so are all those who stood alongside him and benefited from his patronage. It is called collective responsibility.
Those who enjoyed the spoils, subduing their ideals and morals in the process, and remaining silent to further their individual political careers cannot proclaim to be people of honour just because there has been a change of guards.
This list includes the current president as well, who served as Samy Vellu’s aide and rode piggyback on the former president’s popularity to reach the pinnacle of power.
If a Hollywood analogy is applied to this equation, then MIC is the Black Pearl and Samy Vellu, the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow.
But he could not have terrorised the seas and plundered the merchant ships without the help of his swashbuckling loyal crew, who were always quick to defend him when he still wielded the power.
Anwar’s dangerous tango
Like its coalition partners in Barisan Nasional, MIC is gasping for air in a fast-changing political environment comprising an electorate which demands substance from its representatives.
In the last general election, the Indian community turned its back on MIC and those who support it now are doing so because of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s efforts and deep pockets.
The present BN stands for Barisan Najib, where the premier has usurped the role of the component parties in reaching out to the respective communities.
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is now purportedly in the midst of holding talks with several MIC national and division leaders, hoping to entice them to cross over.
With most, if not all, MIC leaders at various levels sagging under the weight of their baggage, is it wise for the PKR supemo to be courting them?
The opposition bloc’s main charge against BN is that the ruling coalition is corrupt to the core but does it mean that by joining PKR one is absolved of past sins?
Has it become the party of political absolution and redemption or a convenient option for those whose political fortunes have faded in their respective parties and are looking for a new lease of life?
Even MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek expressed puzzlement as to how the supposed sinners who leave BN and join the opposition can become overnight saints.
These well-heeled leaders may help bolster the opposition’s election campaign by pumping in cash and manpower but can they contribute the ingredients required for a better Malaysia?
This is doubtful since these leaders have been entrenched deep within the BN machine for years if not decades.
If these leaders are genuine, they should have joined the opposition’s struggle during its weakest period and not leave BN when the coalition is at its lowest ebb.
The opposition should be recruiting those who can raise the bar of the political standard in this nation and not those who are responsible for the benchmark being so low.
The logic is simple: one cannot improve the game when the same players are retained.
The MIC leaders have made certain demands and Anwar is said to be looking into them and it will not come as a surprise if this included being given seats to contest in the next general election.
But can these leaders be trusted?
In the event of a hung Parliament after the next polls, what guarantee is there that these leaders will not be seduced by the other side with sexier rewards to tilt the balance in BN’s favour?
In the aftermath of the 2008 general election, PKR witnessed a string of defections and Anwar conceded that he picked the wrong people, who were not committed to the cause, and apologised for it.
The pro-opposition voters have forgiven him once but he should not push his luck and test their patience or belittle their intelligence.
Anwar must realise that the support for his opposition bloc stems from the disdain these voters possess for BN and, in the absence of a third force, the protest ballots fall in favour of Pakatan Rakyat.
To most of these voters, the delight is not so much in seeing Pakatan capturing the administrative capital but in witnessing BN being driven out of Putrajaya.
Once bitten, twice shy
Sharing his views on the courtship, a vexed PKR leader lamented that Anwar has not learned his lesson from 2008, when it should have been a case of once bitten, twice shy.
“We don’t need these MIC leaders, we don’t want them to inject their venomous political culture into PKR’s veins which will only create fissures. They cannot be trusted!” he thundered.
The Johor-based leader warned that if these MIC turncoats are given seats, it will breed resentment among the existing leaders who have toiled for PKR and it can lead to acts of sabotage during the polls.
“We are promising the rakyat a better option, not the same old wine in a new bottle. You can change your party flag but can you change your character and keep your hands out of the cookie jar?
“PKR has many credible leaders and we should look at fielding them instead of giving room to these political opportunists to become parachute candidates in the next polls,” he added.
It is also a fallacy to think that by roping in MIC leaders, the Indians will come out in droves to vote for Pakatan. The move could result in the opposite.
Malaysia needs to head in the direction of colour-blind leaders who will champion the cause of all irrespective of race and creed.
Being a multiracial party, PKR should lead the way and not further the BN agenda of compartmentalising issues according to race and confining them to leaders of that particular race.
Some also question if these MIC leaders have been tasked with a special mission to infiltrate the opposition and later slit its throat after the polls.
This is perhaps the closest Anwar has come to the prime minister’s post since being given the boot by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad more than a decade ago.
Therefore he must be cautious not to shoot himself in the foot… again.