Like many others, I am quite baffled with Indian Malaysians obsession and support for Anwar Ibrahim as evidenced by the survey completed by Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.
Indian Malaysians supports him as if he is their communal leader. Even the Malays and Chinese were outnumbered in terms of percentage of support for Anwar within their own community.
I tried to comprehend this baffling scenario and came up with several possible explanations. This may sound simplistic, outrageous but may well be true.
80% of Indian Malaysians are said to be Hindraf supporters, this is the around the same percentage of Indians who support Anwar. It is well known that Anwar, supports Hindraf’s struggle, although not explicitly. Many PKR and DAP members are also HINDRAF sympathizers.
Anwar is against UMNO and BN, so are Hindarf, so enemies became friends, Indians are more or less united behind Anwar.
What’s confusing is that Anwar has never (in my knowledge) agreed with the 18 point memorandum by Hindraf or agreed to address various issues raised by Hindraf, although he and many opposition party leaders shouted ‘Makkal Sakhti’ (Hindraf’s catch phrase) to excite the crowd during the election rallies. Neither did he sit in any Hindraf organized hunger strike.
Equally baffling is that Indians and Hindraf supporters also appeared to have conveniently forgotten that Anwar was a key UMNO figure for at least 16 of the ’51 years of discrimination, poverty, marginalization & ethnic cleansing’. They accused everyone from MIC, Samy Vellu to Mahathir for not helping Indians in the past but stayed silent in the case of Anwar.
PKR & Anwar’s Policies
From my conversations with several Indian Malaysians, none have a clear idea of what Anwar and PKR stands for except for the fact they Anwar has promised to do away with the current NEP and start a new policy that will be fair to all.
When I further stressed that DAP,PSM and even PAS have similar views, they seem confused, now not aware of what DAP and PSM stands for. When I highlighted that PKR lead Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor did not agree to a non-malay as the head of PKNS, they shrugged it off.
When I further added that Anwar, Lim Kit Siang, Abdul Hadi Awang signed the agreement on Sept 8 as proof that all three parties would uphold Malay rights. They (the Indians I spoke to) were further confused.
At the end I ended up confused as well not knowing why are they supporting Anwar & PKR! I may get similar responses from BN supporters, but that’s not the topic here.
So I went backwards and looked at what happened before and during March general elections to understand this (Indians support for Anwar) better and offer some mind boggling explanation. I realise that this may not be welcomed by PKRians, Anwaristas and Indian Malaysians in general but what the heck, this is my blog.
Indians, especially those originating from South India like heroism. They love cult personalities and worship them. Some even built temples for them. This is definitely related to Indian Malaysians love for movies, especially Tamil Movies, where heroism is still well and alive. While the world has gone on with sophisticated story telling and multi-starers, South Indian movies, especially Tamil and Telugu movies, are still hero oriented.
Perhaps Indian Malaysian wants someone in the same mould to worship as their their leader. Samy Vellu, Subra, Kayveas and the rest are outdated. Anwar is their hero for the moment.
I did a simply survey with some Malaysian Indians, asking them two simple questions ; Who is the President, Deputy President of PKR and Pakatan Rakyat, the answer, Anwar Ibrahim, when I said no, one adamantly told me to check my facts. President of Pakatan Rakyat!!. As for Deputy president, not a single soul gave me the correct answer…
Sivaji ‘The Boss’
For those who are not aware, ‘Sivaji The Boss’ was a record breaking Tamil Movies starring Tamil Super Star Rajnikant, playing a commoner fighting against a corrupt system and politicians. The movie was dubbed in all South Indian languages such as Telugu, Kanada and Malayalam and was a super hit too.
It was reported frequently that Indians supporters chanted ‘Sivaji, The Boss’ during Anwars campaign trail last and this year.
Anwar himself reportedly declared that he’s the Malaysian ‘Sivaji The Boss’ in rallies attended by substantial Indian Malaysians. There were various posters, stickers and T-Shirts distributed during the March elections with Anwar’s image superimposed to a ‘Sivaji The Boss’ movie poster.
This maybe another reason has probably endeared him to the Indians as I myself have heard the enthuasism expressed for Anwar from those who attended his rally. Most did not talk about any policy or manesfesto from his speeches but never failed to hide their excitement when Anwar say’s he’s “Sivaji The Boss”.
South Indian Political History
Apart from heroism and ‘Sivaji the boss’ factor, another related factor is that majority of the Chief Ministers of south Indian states of Andra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil are from the cinema and they are worshipped by Indians in those states. Cinema personalities such as MGR, NTR, Karunanithi, Jayalalitha, Raj Kumar have cult following which were translated into votes when they entered politics.
Most of their movies potray the hero as lower class do gooder, helping the poor, fighting against corruption, the government etc. None are really an Oscar materials though. For the fans, whatever they do in real life does not matter, even though several of the above Chief Ministers were known to be corrupt. Their fanatical supporters see them as god and close one eye on all their wrong doings. Sounds familiar?
The cult personality worshipping cannot be more evident when at least 30 people who committed suicide when Tamil Nadu actor turned Chief Minister, MGR passed away in 1987.
Like them, Rajinikanth, who potrayed ‘Sivaji, The Boss’, although never been active in politics has huge fans base, who keep on, from time to time, urging him to dabble in politics. He is so popular than if he steps into politics now, he can be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu without a sweat.
With Malaysian Indians’ affinity for South Indian movies and Anwar’s supporters ever closely associating him to ‘Sivaji, the boss’, Indians see Anwar as one of them.
Punch Dialogue & Rhetorics
Indian heroes are well known for their rhetorics or ‘Punch Dialoque although in real life they may not necessarily practice what they preach in the screen.
Fans literally clap and whistle when their favorite heroes let go a catchy line.
Perhaps they see the same with Anwar, whose strong oratory skills mesmerizes the crowd and he had been known to throws some quotes here and there
Here are some examples ;
My way is a unique way
If I say it once, it’s equivalent to having said it a 100 times
God commands. I obey
I’ll do what I say. I’ll also do what I don’t say
Only pigs come in herds. The lion always comes alone.
When I’ll come, how I’ll come, nobody knows. But when I need to come, I’ll be there.
You’ll be happier if you marry the one who loves you instead of the one you love.
Even if I come late, I’ll be the latest.
You’ll gain nothing without hard work. And even if you do, it won’t last for long
Finished. Finished. What’s done is done.
Yesterday I was a coolie. Today, I’m an actor. Tomorrow...
Some people say I’ll become like this I’ll become come like that. But only God knows how I’ll end up tomorrow.
Hey, wait a minute. This is not Anwar. Those are actual one liners loosely translated from the real “Sivaji the Boss”.
But they do sound familiar right…