Monday, July 02, 2007


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."


  1. Bang Capt...

    When you wrote '...there she was the dancing eyes and flower in her hair', were you referring to the islands or "ahem" in-very-port?


    Communal politcs within M-I-C? This will be their downfall if they don't surmount these thousand of years of the caste system. What more Tamil, Telegu, Malayalee, Punjabis, Sinhalese, Panakotes....

    Even with the same community there are hierarchies too. So how?

  2. Hi mat,

    Oh that, what do you think ha ha.

    The caste problem is quite serious I think. The Samy Vellu, Subramaniam, Pandithan and Kayveas wayang all this years was just manifestation of this deep rift. We non Indians cannot even begin to fathom this.

  3. Mat and Capn

    The class society of the past remains and transform into another form. Perhaps, if I may apply an observation of mine, society class can generally be grouped to the level of access to education, job, economic opportunity, society, culture, etc.

    WHile, we worry abt caste in the Indian society or feudel class in Malay society, it will transform itself into another form. In reality, there is no classless society, not even the days of communism.

    I think what is more important is to see the democratisation of access.

    Just mere rambling.

  4. a voice:

    You are absolutely right. Perhaps the young may not care two hoots abt this nowadays, but old timers will still somehow factor in this ancient way of determining pecking orders. Go figure.

  5. Dear Captain,

    Hah you are back? So did anyone hold your hand? Hehehehehe

  6. elviza:

    Yup, about 50 very noisy and merry MIC members from Klang ... haha


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