Sometimes the quirks of life provide better expressions of truth then the constructs of the best artist. The job of the artist in such instances is to read and re-present these signs. The above image is a crop/edit from a larger image in the mass media that has been seen, by those who believe that the ruling party pulls the levers of the supposedly independent Elections Commision, as a counter productive attempt by Barisan to supress the images of the two main opposition leaders in the coming elections. Regardless of the independanceof the commision, I would take this analysis further in a most objective fashion – the excision of one of the leaders of the opposition from a hoarding turns the resulting lacuna into an image of both of them. Further, in this instance (and from this angle) it gives the public an image of the sky which carries all the possible connotations of ‘Hope’ or Harapan! I really do not think there will be many more instances of official iconoclasm of this kind ,if the government does indeed have a grip on the Elections Commision (and assuming, of course, that the party knows what it is doing)!
As the May 8th polling date approaches in Malaysia, there has been an interesting turn of events with regard to the use of images. According to the Straits Times of Singapore, the Election Commission just issued new guidelines stipulating that, other than the photograph of the candidate standing for election in a given constituency, the only other photographs can be used on campaign materials are photos of the candidate’s party president and deputy president. This effectively removes images of Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim from the iconography of the campaign. Reflecting on the power of images in the contemporary media, and the interdiction against images in Islam in this context might be quite enlightening ……. as might pondering on the Superstar Cutouts that populate the box-office and polling landscapes of Asia!
Image composite from : https://aliran.com/thinking-allowed-online/2011-ta-online/najibs-larger-than-life-thaipusam-appearance/ and https://malaysianaccess.com/batu-caves-12-metre-cutout-anwar-ibrahim-standing-tall-p5831/
While I am completely behind Tun Dr. Mahathir in terms the honourable etymology of the term Keling, I have personally felt it used against me in the derogatory fashion. This apology from Tun should have come as soon as the Tun was put on notice, instead of his initial and rather archaic defense of his use of the term. Indeed, the history of the term since the 1960’s makes it clear that some if not most Indians would take offence. I stress that in-spite of my commentary, I am not offended. I have even used the term candidly in my own works – Telinga Keling, Taubat Keling, with even more Keling works to come! So thanks Dr M … No hard feelings!
While the failure of Barisan Nasional to uplift the Indian community is acknowledged by Barisan itself, by way of MIC’s accusation of Dr Mahathir’s neglect of the Indians during his 22 year tenure, this failure is ironically underscored by Mahathir himself who blames, in turn, his the former ally and MIC leader Samy Vellu for this situation. In terms of my ongoing concern the plight of stateless Indians, it is indeed, clear that in the post-independence years, there has been no proactive attempt to embrace and incorporate these most underprivileged constituents of the Malayan legacy into the Malaysian polity. This is undeniably an abysmal failure, in humanitarian terms, of Barisan governance.
Still it must be acknowledged, while the stake of Indians within Barisan is severely weakened since the heady days of Samy Vellu, it is still defined and perceivable. I do not, however, see the equivalent Indian leverage within Harapan. This lack has been viscerally, if casually, revealed in the dismissive remarks of the coalition’s chairman and Prime Ministerial candidate in what I shall call the ‘Keling Gate’ debacle. But, returning once again to the issue at hand, how does Harapan stand on the all-important question of Indian statelessness? On the face of it, they seem to be doing well. They have diligently called the government out their ineffective and/or disingenuous efforts to solve the problem with programmes like MyDaftar. Members of the Harapan opposition have claimed that there are around 300,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia. A shockingly large number indeed.
It must however, be noted that the Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia, a voluntary non-profit and non-political organization, has stated categorically that their research has revealed only 12,392 stateless Indians as of June 2017. Their president Saravanan M Sinapan has further noted that 2,225 of these have already been granted citizenship, leaving just over 10,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia today. If DHRRA is correct Pakatan Harapan’s promises to the Indian community in the GE-14 Manifesto ring hollow and untrue. These promises to Malaysian Indians include, as first on the list, the following, “1. Menyelesaikan masalah komuniti India yang tidak mempunyai status kewarganegaraan (stateless Indians) dalam tempoh 100 hari pentadbiran kami“. Indeed, given their apparent ethno-electoral hyperbole of 300,000 stateless Indians, even if Harapan scoops every stateless Indian up in the 100 days, they will, by the logic of numbers, surely fall short of their own alleged target of 300,000.
So if DHRRA is correct, Pakatan Harapan has failed on a key election promise to the Indian community even before polling day! Even if we forgive them their numbers, and even if they institute some ameliorative policy quickly, this is not a 100 day problem. People who have been living for generations in the shadow of the nation are not going to be easily found and rehabilitated. Given this, and the recent evidence of Harapan’s attitude in ‘Keling Gate’, the coalition had better pull its finger out in terms of winning over the Indian community – if they want the best from the upcoming elections. Or … am I just not getting it …. could the masterful ‘old man’ of Malaysian politics be knowingly spinning his perfectly pitched racial attitude in the direction of the much needed Malay heartland, fully cognizant of the fact that Indians just do not figure in the Harapan calculation for GE-14!
Image: https://twitter.com/encikail/status/709235617498996736 (edited)
Berpatah kembali mengikut peradaban negerinya,
katanama ‘keling’ harus diterima!
Tetapi mengikut sekalangan warganya,
pangilan itu memaki rasanya.
Dalam kandang menegembek bermakna,
diluar nadanya mengangu sahaja!
Gord Hill is a Warrior with a pen.This is an image he uses to address the nexus economic and legal realities of native Canada. He addresses the goal of the state to assimilate Indigenous peoples, via the conversion of reserve lands to private property under the pretext of creating economic self-sufficiency. ‘Self-government’ agreements come with development contracts and treaty agreements remove the natives from the ambit of the Indian Act and change their reserve lands to private property.
This is a reposting of my post from Dec 1 2015