Friday, November 30, 2007

Help is a ring away

A totally imaginative phone call:

Caller: Hello! Hello? Is this MIC hotline?
MIC Hotline: Yes this is MIC hotline. How can I help you?

Caller: Thank god you picked up the phone. I have a complain to make.
MIC Hotline: What is it?

Caller: The great leader promised to rebuild the Tamil school in my estate. He made this promise a few years ago and so far nothing has happened....
MIC Hotline: Errr...Datuk Seri is busy today. We will tell him.

Caller: Also there is this old temple here. The local council wants to demolish it. Can MIC stop it?
MIC Hotline: Hmmm...As I said Datuk Seri is busy today, we will pass your message to him

Caller: And we are also facing problems in getting our children into the local universities. Can you ....
MIC Hotline: We will inform Datuk Seri about your call

Caller: By the way, my friends and I have decided we want to just give away our Maika shares back to Maika. Also we want to donate to the new medical campus. How do we go about it?
MIC Hotline: Hello! Vanakkam, this is Datuk Seri here. How many shares do you have?

Background story:

MIC will set up a telephone complaint hotline for ethnic Indians following a massive rally by the minority group to demand equality and fair treatment in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The hotline will allow Indians to call and complain about any grievances they may have.

More here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SV: They are troublemakers

The great leader today came charging out to defend his and his party’s role in uplifting the community in an exclusive interview with NST.

I think his explanations and justifications should be kept for record purposes and that’s why I am reproducing them here.

(Also for me to have some fun whenever I want to have a good laugh!)

So here it goes:

'I'm a man on the job, not on the streets'
28 November, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: All the hard work done for the Indian community by the MIC is being "jeopardised" by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and other opposition parties. The struggle and welfare of the community had been addressed by the government since independence, said MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

"Hindraf has only emerged now but the MIC has been at it for 50 years," he said.
"They (the protesters) are fighting to create problems. They are troublemakers."

He said MIC had been fighting for the Indians through consultation and dialogue in the spirit of the Barisan Nasional.

"Being a multi-racial society, we have to take into consideration the sentiments of the other races and BN component parties."

Samy Vellu, who is also works minister, said although all its proposals and requests could not be entertained, the MIC had achieved a degree of success, given the political scenario in Malaysia.

"We find it disturbing for others to think otherwise. Their actions are in fact jeopardising the positive efforts being considered and undertaken for the community," he said at the parliament lobby yesterday.

Samy Vellu said the MIC was aware of issues confronting the community, concerning education, housing, employment, health, the economy and religion.

"It may appear that the MIC leadership is doing little to address these issues, when in fact they are highlighted almost every week at cabinet meetings and even in parliament, sometimes to the ire of BN leaders.

"We fully understand the shortcomings. These issues cannot be addressed over-night. There is so much more to be done over a period of time."


Samy Vellu said more Indian students were being given government scholarships, study loans and opportunities to pursue technical, business and professional courses locally and abroad.

This comes by way of the Tamil School Action Council, Yayasan Strategik Social, Maju Institute of Educational Development, Tafe College and the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology.

"They can be poor but if they have brains we will not deny them a sound education.

"To date, the MIC has secured financial aid to the tune of RM94 million for 14,300 students, including 1,300 to pursue medical studies in Russia, the Ukraine and Indonesia.

"This includes Public Service Department scholarships for 176 deserving students last year. The government has also approved 500 seats for matriculation studies annually, while Giatmara has allocated a 10 per cent quota for Indian students to pursue technical courses," he said.

On Tamil schools, 180 new schools were built in the last two decades, while another 80 are in the pipeline.

More Tamil school teachers are being employed. In 1970, there were 3,258 teachers compared with 7,126 this year, an increase of 118.7 per cent over the past 37 years.

These efforts have produced exemplary UPSR results with 45 students securing 7 As in 1995, 202 in 2002, 579 last year and 573 this year.

The Tamil language has been accepted at STPM level as a critical subject for admission into the Arts Faculty in Universiti Malaya.


Temples are being relocated or built in a systematic way so that they can better serve worshippers. This has been one of the main issues.

After the furore caused by the demolition of a 100-year-old temple in Shah Alam last month, the government has now made it mandatory that demolitions and relocations of temples be made after consultation with the MIC chief.


Samy Vellu said more homes had been allocated for Indian squatters.

"In the federal capital, 1,500 houses have been given to displaced squatters. Another 2,700 will soon benefit."


He said opportunities for Indians in the civil service used to be a mere two per cent but the representation is increasing.

"We have even fought for estate workers to get better monthly wages," he said.

Samy Vellu said the MIC also undertook efforts to improve the community's economy through various channels like the chambers of commerce and industry and business associations.

In a separate interview with Reuters, Samy Vellu said:

"We have fought worse battles than this during elections (referring to Sunday's rally organised by Hindraf).

"We don't worry about this. We are confident of winning the next elections handsomely."

Several thousand Indians participated in the rally and had to be dispersed by water cannon and tear gas.

"I'm not going to lose sleep over this demonstration. To me, I can throw the records on the floor on what I have done. I am not a man on the streets. I am a man on the job."

(NST, Page 7, Nov 28, 2007)


And now, I have many questions arising from this interview but I think TWO would suffice for now.

One, if he has done so much for the community, how come the community is still lagging in all areas, so much so about 40,000 people hit the streets in Sunday to protest?

And, secondly, what gives MIC the right to be the sole party to try to help the government?

Surely others too can do their bit without relying on the party?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Even Muruga couldn't escape

Just last week the Maha Mariamman and the Batu Caves temple committee chairman Nadarajah was quoted in the media as saying that his new organisation - the Malaysia Hindu Peravai - would make sure that temples are opened and used for cultural activities for the Hindus.

He added that he would make sure the Hindus don’t just go to the temple to pray, but also to gather for activities that would unite the community.

One week later, he proved that he is just another politician.

Late on Saturday night/early Sunday morning, thousands of Indians had gathered at the Batu Caves temple before participating in the Sunday rally.

However they were turned in to the cops by the temple committee - headed by Nadarajah, claiming that they were gathering illegally in the temple compound.

These people were assaulted by the cops, fired with tear gas and hit with chemical-laced water.

They were forcibly moved out of the temple, resulting in the Murugan abode being ‘tarnished’ with unruly acts!

The temple should have been a place to accept all and give them shelter. I am sure Lord Muruga would have allowed that.

But as the saying goes, even if the God gives you the greenlight, it’s the priest who will be the stumbling block.

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‘Ask them, is this democracy?’

"Ask them, is this democracy?"

This is a question a protester is seen asking in al-Jazeera’s coverage of the protest march yesterday.

Notably, al-Jazeera’s coverage was the only one which had interviewed the protesters. All local TV stations only had views and excuses from the government side and cops as to why ‘limited’ force was used against the protesters.

In case, you missed the al-Jazeera report, here it is:

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Salute the 30,000 brave protesters

After the arrest of Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy on Friday, I was on SMS communication with him.

In one, I had asked him about who would be leading the protesters on Sunday since all Hindraf leaders were addressed.

He told me: "Let’s see how Makkal Sakthi (Power of the People) works now."

And man did it work in a spectacular manner this morning.

Some 30,000 Indians gathered around the Jalan Ampang area for about six hours, playing a fearless game with the police.

They faced chemical-laced water cannons, tear gas and police bashing stoutly, coming back with a bigger and braver wave every time they had come under attack.

Today was a turning point to the Indian psyche. After being sidelined and kept down for so long, they decided to come out to protest today.

It was more like a matter of life and death for them. They have had enough of the third-class treatment.

Their defiant stand would have sent a strong message to the rulers today - temple demolitions are not something that should be taken lightly, Indians are NOT underclass in any case.

People came on their own today, wanting to express their disappointment. They braved police blocks, police assaults and court orders.

They just want to be part of the protest. We must salute these brave Indians for finally taking the stand.

At the same time, credit must go to Hindraf too for making this possible.

I suppose the foot shouldn’t be taken off the brake now. The next step should perhaps be the home of our great leader!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Indians = Gangsters?

I actually find the police spin in rejecting the police permit for the Hindraf rally this Sunday rather amusing.

It shows how archaic the Malaysian police thinking are. It also shows how racist they have become.

We had the IGP yesterday saying that "gangsters would be used which could cause a breach of the peace".

And the city CPO Zulhasnan Najib Baharudin said that the police have received information that "criminal acts" such as "fights" and "arguments" would occur during the rally.

Roadblocks have also been mounted around the city, ostensibly as a part of a "crime prevention" exercise.

Their spin seems to indicate that the police top brass have equated Indians to gangsterism and violence.

And what about the racial-profiling exercise in stopping all Indians at road blocks to prevent them from entering the city?

I agree that one or two of the Hindraf top wigs do tend to make their own emotion-ridden unwanted racial attacks but I have never known them to be the violent sort.

And how about people coming for the rally? Can they be violent too? Why should they? After all their purpose is to submit a memo to the British High Commission. There could be emotional speeches but I DO NOT see them running amok on Sunday, killing and maiming the first non-Indian they see!

My only worry is the presence of police gangsters who act as agent provocateurs. Maybe it is these groups the IGP and his KL police chief are talking about.

As I see if, the police were just pissed off with the manner they were conned by the Bersih rally on Nov 12. This time, they want to save face. To do that, they have to act tough. So they have started with the ready-made excuses.

And how about the racial spin?

IGP Musa urged the public to stay away from the rally as it could touch the sensitivities of other races and spark racial friction.

Hello? Wasn’t he following the UMNO AGM last year and this year, as well as many of the speeches made by the Umno MPs in the recent past?

And for a first time as I can remember, the police have also gotten a court order restraining people from participating in the rally.

First came the police warnings, and then the court restriction followed by the arrest of three top Hindraf leaders and finally, I believe, will be the tear gas and water cannon on Sunday for those who still insist on submitting the memo in a peaceful manner.

‘Gangsters’ have be warned. Be careful on Sunday. Perhaps it will be wise if the gathering crowd, if any, chant spiritual rhymes all the way to the High Commission and offer alms to the riot squad.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Queen is NOT coming

Some unscrupulous parties are sending out SMSes saying that the Queen of England would be at the British High Commission at Jalan Ampang this Sunday to receive a memo by an Indian group.

People! Please, please, do not fall for this. Don't be so gullible.

The Queen of England is NOT coming to receive a memorandum from Hindraf this Sunday.

In fact I doubt if Queen Elizabeth is even aware of the protest, much less, the reason for the protest, or the organisers.

Also, she will be in Uganda for the CHOGM.

And, do not listen to people who say the police have given permission for the demonstration. They have not! There is NO police permit for the gathering.

So it is an illegal gathering. Go at your own risk if you want to show your support but do not take your kids along.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Winner I’m unsure, losers I know who

A new organization for the Hindus in this country has been formed and it is called the Malaysian Hindu Assembly (Malaysia Hindu Peravai).

Led by temple Nadarajah, this is obviously an attempt to rival the long established Malaysian Hindu Sangam (MHS).

This new body claims it wants to unite the Hindus in this country and fight to protect their rights, starting with the temples and culture.

Isn’t this what the MHS has been doing thus far?

Anyways, as I see it, the issue is this. In the recent past, MHS has been aligning itself with the increasingly vocal civil society groups in demanding for reforms in this country.

The MHS, led by Vythilingam, has been vocal in matters of conversion and religious freedom.

Its only drawback, as I see it, has been its approval of the demolition of unregistered temples. But even then, there have been cases when MHS has called for more tolerant approach when dealing with temple demolitions.

Wanting to be different, Nadarajah, who is also the head of the KL Maha Mariamman and Batu Caves temples, vows to protect all temples and turn them into cultural centres.

I am fine with that. I am just worried that there is a political motive behind the setting up of this new organization, which is affiliated by MIC-backing groups and individuals.

One thing is clear, the Nadarajah-led Malaysia Hindu Assembly smells of being a MIC proxy to counter the noise made by MHS in issues related to the Indian community in this country.

I want to see who actually wins this battle? The losers surely must be the Hindu lot!

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A challenge at a wrong time

This is funny actually, especially when you know the full story.

The matter is this – the EC head Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said that he will step down if election rigging is proven.

Fine. Classic thing to say.

The only issue is this. He is due to retire at the end of this year. So who cares if he steps down or not?

Perhaps his challenge should have come a little bit earlier. After all he has overseen the running of six general elections in this country, with massive complaints of fraud and rigging in the last two.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Learning is no longer fun

A 12-year-old girl had committed suicide by hanging herself in Nibong Tebal for apparently not doing well in the UPSR exams. She obtained 4Bs, 2Cs and 1D but was confident of getting at least 4As.

The death of S Subashini is tragic and worrying. Worse still is her reason to die.
But it goes on to show the tremendous pressure our kids are under when it comes to deliver in examinations.

Our education system is totally exam-oriented. The media have worsened it by (only) highlighting the straight As scored by the deserving students.

Parents fall into the trap by getting into a competitive mode to ensure their children are among the first-rankers.

Relatives too join in the fun by constantly reminding the kids of how others had done and comparing the achievement of one pupil with another, openly.

So at the end, what should be a fun experience turns into a nightmare for school children.

I am shocked that our education system has turned even 12-year-old students into thinking that assessment exams are a matter of life and death! Believe me, they are NOT.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Write, and you shall be punished!

We all know that when it comes to Tamil schools, there is only ONE self-appointed guardian - the only party that claims any legitimate right to protect the community and all things that come with it, including Tamil schools.

Just think back of the spat between this party and PPP in the Tamil dailies over the plight of Tamil schools in recent weeks. MIC likes to defend itself tightly when it comes to Tamil schools, not allowing ANYONE to have a say or action at all.

In a nutshell, just as it claims, the party has full control of Tamil schools in this country, no doubt.

Given that, two incidents in recent weeks put things into a totally different perspective about the role of this self-appointed guardians of Tamil schools.

First, Johor-based Malaysia Nanban photojournalist, R Raman (aka R Kalaramu) is in coma after being attacked by unidentified group on Nov 2 outside his office in Johor Baru after reporting on problems facing Tamil schools in that state.

And then earlier this week, Raman's colleague M Nagarajan in Kedah received a phone call from an unidentified person threatening to kill him because of a report about a local Tamil school he had written on Monday.

Interestingly Nagarajan was reminded of the attacks on Raman by the caller.

So far there is no conclusive evidence as to the identity of the perpetrators but is it hard to guess?

Anyways, while the issue and anger on this matter have been confined to Malaysia Nanban pages only in Malaysia, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has issued a statement urging the authorities to investigate the attacks and threatening phone call urgently.

It said that Malaysia Nanban was known for its coverage of issues that affect the Indian community, including access to education, that are sometimes critical of the community leadership (read: MIC).

Another vocal critic Makkal Osai was closed for one month in August for publishing a cartoon of Jesus holding a can of beer, after MIC called for strong action against them.

As I see it, if there is no action taken by the police on the attackers and unidentified threat-makers, such attacks will continue unabated against Malaysia Nanban reporters. The style might even be used against Makkal Osai journalists.

As I said, we don’t know who the culprits are. But is it that hard to guess?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end of one sen

How many times have we been to either a fast food outlet or a mall and see ourselves being shortchanged over the odd one or two sen? It happens regularly although some multinational supermarkets and utility giants have now started to absorb the minor loss on themselves.

And how often do we see the one sen copper coin left unpicked in the streets? Quite often I think.

I think we Malaysians have given up looking at the one sen coin as a legal denomination many years ago. We don’t have the same respect for this single sen like they do in the US or the UK.

We automatically have started rounding up things to the nearest 5 sen or 10 sen whenever the odd figure appears in our bills.

So it was not a great surprise for me to read that the government wants to pension off the one sen coin by next April.

And to make things easier, a new round-up mechanism would be introduced for all over-the-counter transactions where all payment totals will either be rounded up or down to the nearest five sen.

The government has given various reasons for doing away with the one sen coin (see chart, courtesy of the star).

However I am worried that despite the cost, wastage and unusefulness factors, are we admitting that we are being affected by the rising inflation where we find no value for the one sen?

So what’s next? Do we do the same with five sen? And the 10 sen? Finally leaving the RM1 as the lowest denomination of our currency?

That’s what I am worried off - going back to the banana money days!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Conversation with a S’pore cab driver

Driver: So taxis drivers in Malaysia are unscrupulous lot huh?

Me: Huh? What? Hmmm....yea

Driver: Here if we don’t use rate meters, we will get suspended immediately. We have strict enforcement.

Me: Oh? Well.....

Driver: Some of our drivers are also bad lots but they have been sacked permanently. They can’t drive taxis in Singapore anymore.

Me: Is it? That’s good.

Driver: Yea! Enforcement is very strict here. Not like in your country. There they just cheat!

Me: Hmm...(Feeling totally, utterly unable to say anything to defend our drivers)

(And he gave me a receipt at the end of my short journey. At least three other taxi drivers rounded up the fare to the nearest dollar, allowing me to keep the cents.)

p/s: Maybe the ONE foreign trip which the JPJ or the taxi licensing board should take is to across the Causeway to see how they enforce discipline among their taxi drivers and how they manage to keep the cabs clean.


Barking at the wrong tree

I am shocked by Khairy Jamaluddin’s outburst at newspaper vendors for taking their well-deserved Deepavali break.

It is outrageous that Khairy was harping on a racial issue, saying that the Indian vendors were controlling the distribution of newspapers and their total control was the reason for the non-coverage on Umno president’s speech in the newspapers on Thursday.

He said:

"Today is the first time the Umno president’s speech is not being read by the masses because a particular ethnic group controls the distribution line of newspapers and they are on holiday."

He wanted the government to look into this total control by the Indian vendors, asking for more Malay participation in this area. Bollocks!

The issue here is simple:

There were no newspapers on Thursday - barring Utusan Malaysia and Oriental Daily - because it was a Deepavali public holiday. It was a public holiday just like when newspapers are not published for Hari Raya and Chinese New Year.

Why must vendors or newspapers remain working on an agreed shutdown date? Just for Umno AGM and for all to read the PM’s speech?

Well then, why in the first place did Umno hold its AGM on Deepavali day? Shouldn’t Khairy be thinking about that first instead on jumping and making racial warnings at the Indian vendors?

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang said it well:

"The holding of the Umno General Assembly during Deepavali, a gazetted public holiday, had also upset many Malaysians, both Hindus and non-Hindus, as it seems to point to a growing pattern of insensitivity by the powers-that-be in the country.

If the MIC, MCA or Gerakan had held their annual party assemblies during Hari Raya holidays, it would have been regarded as highly insensitive, offensive and unacceptable – and undoubtedly pressures would have been brought to bear to move such assemblies to another date.

Why wasn’t the same consideration given in the case of this year’s Umno General Assembly clashing with Deepavali – as the excuse that Abdullah had a "tight schedule" is simply just unacceptable?"

Kit Siang is right. Khairy should apologise to the Indian vendors for scandalising them. In fact his master plan is to further marginalise them so that the control of the distribution line of newspapers would actually go to the majority race.

And just as Khairy should apologise to the Indian vendors, the Umno leadership should apologise to the Indian community over its selfish behaviour in dismissing and disregarding the cultural sentiments of the third biggest race in this multi-cultural country.

I leave this posting with this witty remark I found posted by a reader in Kit Siang’s blog:

"For KJ, good luck in the coming elections, trying holding it during Thaipusam!"

I couldn’t agree more. Ha! Ha!

p/s: malaysian nanban bravely reminded khairy in its editorial today that the issue was not with indian vendors, but rather with the party holding its meeting during deepavali.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heil leader...

Last year Mukhriz Mahathir came under severe attack from his fellow Umno cadres for saying the party president’s keynote address did not contain "anything new".

Umno Youth was totally pissed of with Mukhriz, an Umno Youth exco member, as they thought his comment belittled Pak Lah, and thus was embarrassing for the movement.

He was called in to be given the dressing down and he then expressed his regret for saying what he said.

Don’t forget at that time his father was in a bitter feud with the party president-cum-premier.

It’s only natural that the party leadership would want to side with their big boss just as Mukhriz did with his dad.

This year, after all the brouhaha of last year, Mukhriz seemed to have learnt his lessons.

When asked to comment as to what he thought of Pak Lah’s speech today, the smart son of Dr M said : "wonderful".

Wonderful? Wonderful?? I thought the speech did not contain ‘anything new’!

But then I can say it out loud as I will not be pressured by my peers to openly apologise or cruelly crucified for saying that.

Did someone just say 'Heil Pak Lah'!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

PM’s empty, meaningless greetings

“In line with the spirit of togetherness in ushering in festive periods, the Prime Minister said Malaysians should respect one another's right to freely practise religious customs in their respective places of worship.”

This is what Bernama reported today on Abdullah’s Deepavali wishes to all Hindus.

Is the premier still living in Malaysia? Or does he just step into the country once in awhile?

Why do I ask these?

Two simple reasons:

1. Umno seems to ignore that Thursday is Deepavali, choosing to proceed with its AGM, thus showing utter disrespect for the third biggest population in the country.

2. I will just let this photo on the right talk - it shows Shah Alam City Council officers trying to get devotees away from the Shah Alam temple which was then demolished.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Not so great after all


Just in a matter of a few hours ago the Great Leader said all party celebrations for the forthcoming Deepavali was banned.

This was to show the party’s disgust at the demolition of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam last week.

Now, he has changed his tune, and puts it down to all Hindus in the country who had made overwhelming request for MIC to hold open houses nationwide.

What was the game plan, I asked in the earlier posting.

And I am still wondering about it. Was there a game plan? Who blinked first? I guess only time will tell.

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Great Leader finally makes a stand

Is MIC, the party that claims to represent the interest of the Indian community, finally revolting against the continued marginalisation of the community in Malaysia?

MIC president S Samy Vellu has banned all Deepavali celebrations by the party’s elected representatives as a mark of protest against the demolition of a 100-year-old temple in Shah Alam last week.

This is without doubt the party’s most vocal and critical statement of protest on the continuing demolition of Hindu temples in Malaysia, especially in Selangor.

Well, the ban, announced through a press statement, means the party’s seven members of parliament - including one full minister, three deputy ministers and three parliamentary secretaries - and all 19 state assemblypersons, including seven excos, will not be holding open houses or any other form of celebrations for Deepavali.

Deepavali falls on Nov 8 and it has been customary for all MIC leaders - both national and state levels - to hold open houses to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Samy Vellu said his own open house - an annual event - has also been cancelled.

"MIC is saddened by the demolition of the temple. The demolition has hurt the feelings of the Indian community in this country," he said.

Samy Vellu also advised all party leaders to celebrate Deepavali moderately in the company of family and friends.

I think the ban was not only necessitated by the temple incident.

As I see it, the fact that Umno is holding its annual general meeting during Deepavali is also a slap in the face for MIC, especially when the government is never slow is shouting and crying about how united and racially bonded we all are.

Could the veteran be sending a strong but silent message to Umno with the ban, especially when the government has always taken from granted the Indian votes?

All eyes will now be on Samy Vellu and his party leaders to see if they would be attending a national-level Deepavali open house organised by the Culture, Art and Heritage Ministry on Nov 11 at the KL Sentral parking space in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

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