Thursday, 17 May 2012

Beef burger stunt will fry BN



During a recent “coffee shop” chat with friends, a question was thrown: “Who is the most popular Malaysian Indian leader now?” The majority answered without second thoughts: “Ambiga!”

That is the kind of popularity and respect enjoyed by S Ambiga among the Indians in this country although she is leading the Bersih movement as a multi-racial grouping for all Malaysians.

She is not known to be active in any of the Indian-based organisations. Still, she has become a role model for Indians fighting for their rights in this country and is often fondly referred to as “akka” (elder sister) by the younger generation of Indians.

Since the days of Hindraf in 2007, no other leader was able to emerge from the Indian community showing such a strong determination to deal with government authorities and the leadership skills to spearhead mammoth rallies such as Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0.

Suddenly, Ambiga has become the darling of the Indian community and without any doubts, she would be able to influence a large segment of Indian voters in the forthcoming general election.

Beef burgers will cost BN

Naturally, the Indian community is also angry and upset about the attacks targeted against Ambiga for her role as the Bersih chairman and for organising Bersih 3.0.

Indian petty traders know how difficult it is to put up hawker stalls in Kuala Lumpur without proper permission from authorities such as DBKL but the manner in which a burger stall was erected in front of Ambiga’s house without any objection from the authorities has raised questions and sent signals that such actions had the tacit approval of the BN government.

The statement by Deputy IGP Khalid Abu Bakar that such stalls can be put up in front of Ambiga’s house has also shocked many and further crystallized the idea that the authorities were encouraging such actions to instill fear and apprehension among the organisers of Bersih 3.0 and its supporters.

Following the burger stall incident, the vulgar aerobic display in front of Ambiga’s house by some people calling themselves former Malay army personnel had also angered many Malaysians since it smacked of racism.

Above all, serving beef burgers in front of Ambiga’s house infuriated many Indians who, as staunch Hindus, denounce beef since cows are considered sacred. Ambiga is also a Hindu and a strict vegetarian probably because of her birth as a Brahmin. The Hindus from the Brahmin community are strict vegetarians.

The president of Hindu Sangam Mohan Shan issued a statement condemning the action to prepare and distribute beef burgers in front of Ambiga’s house. Hindu Sangam viewed this incident as an insult to the Hindu community and also questioned the authorities for keeping mum.

These incidents were slowly but surely drifting Indian voters away from BN and the statement by Hindu Sangam was one of such clear indication.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia policy had also shattered into pieces with the approach of the authorities with regard to these incidents. The prime minister’s efforts over the years to bring back Indian voters into the BN fold suddenly seems to have sidetracked.

Probably the BN leadership now realised that their “overboard” actions against Ambiga had angered the Indian community and the mainstream media carried photographs and stories of police cars patrolling Ambiga’s house, just to show that the authorities were providing the necessary protection for her.

Politics is a fast changing game. There are instances where unknowns become popular overnight while some well-known political figures perish suddenly in political tsunamis and seldom surface after that.

Ambiga, who showed her legal prowess and leadership skills as president of the Bar Council for several years, had been suddenly catapulted as an honorable and popular leader in Malaysia for her role in the Bersih movement and consequently she had also earned a respected position in the Indian community.

The incidents targeting her, including the distribution of beef burgers outside her house, was bound to land BN in the frying pan with regard to Indian votes.

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