I first set foot on the enchanting islands of the Philippines some 40 years ago. My ship was then loading rice in Cebu and later in Davao del Sur in the south. Those were idyllic times, I was young and carefree and there was she with the dancing eyes and flowers in her hair. I was to visit the islands again several times many years later to attend port seminars, conferences and even a senior management program at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Manila.
Fast forward until last week, I was in Angeles City, some 90 km north of Manila with a rather noisy bunch of about 50 lower-rung MIC politicians from Klang. They were there for a bit of R & R, compliments of the party bosses for a job well done. Boy, you will never believe the intense hypocritical lobbying and the back stabbing that went on even amongst this lot. I was to discover that 'caste' politics is also very much alive in MIC, something that other BN component parties or the opposition have never had to worry about. There was also a very strong undercurrent of discontent which if not put right may spell trouble in future.
Not very long ago, Salman Rushdie wrote an article called 'In defense of Multiculturalism' soon after the October 2005 riots or 'civil unrest' by Muslims in France. I have never been a fan or read any of Rushdie's books but I still remember his argument which has haunted me ever since: "The French riots demonstrate a stark truth. If people do not feel included in the national idea, their alienation will eventually turn to rage."