By: Choo Sing Chye
The other day, at a dinner, I met a former PPP supporter who upon recognising me, came over to my table for a chat. But before saying anything, he quickly declared that he had switched parties, from PPP to a full fledged MIC member.
I asked him, "what's the difference?" He did not answer, but switched subject to talk about the good old days. Then suddenly at one conjecture he asked me whether I had admitted any Indian gangsters during my watch as Perak DAP Organising Secretary.
“No!” I replied. “Hey, don’t “ali-utart” (bluff) me lah, just admit it bro,” he reacted.
I looked at him and responded, “I never come across any Indians who had filled the little dotted line under “Occupation” with the word, “Gangster”, when joining DAP.”
“So, to you when you see an Indian beating another, you call him a gangster and when a rich man or top politician’s son bashing another, you just say, boys will be boys, right?” I retorted. "Is this the way MIC solves the Indian problem?"
This is a true story that happened a very long time ago.
Looking back to my childhood’s days, I remember when we were a group of about 8 to 9 years old, a healthy mix of Malays, Indians and I, would congregate on a small patch of land near the mortuary playing football until the sun sets. I tell you, it was unadulterated fun back then, which I do not see much these days.
When we were tired from all the playing, we would sit down to rest and it was always at this moment in time, a 18 year old Indian boy by the name of Arikiam would suddenly appear and sit beside us uninvited.
Sensing that our eyes were fixed on him, he would suddenly leap up and kick off his story telling in the most animated way that he could, just to make an impression on us.
Once he rode an elephant to the Hospital Quarters where we lived. As children we were stunned to see him riding on the huge animal and immediately followed wherever he went.
Once a while we would work up a little courage and sneaked a pat or two on the elephant’s leg. Later we knew that he was working for the Brazilian Circus which was in Ipoh at that time.
Until today, I still do not know how he managed to ride the elephant out of the circus and took a huge risk just to impress us, kids.
Did he make any impression on us? Yes, he did, back then.
Today, we have forgotten him and his stories on how he allegedly fought with the police and his rivals whom he called bad guys. But, his imitation of John Wayne’s walk still lingers in my mind.
Many years had passed since I saw him, but one fine day while waiting on my motorbike at the traffic lights junction for the light to turn green, I noticed an Indian man behaving rather strangely. Then, he started to walk towards me and I thought he wanted to cross the road.
Nearing me, he literally with his outstretched hands gave me a brotherly hug, in an instant I recognised him - he was none other then the Indian boy who had entertained us with his exploits all through the years when we were growing up.
We went to the side of the road and had a long chat. As time flew by, I said to him that I had to go, suddenly I could see that his eyes started to mist. He knew that this will be the last goodbye and we will never meet again.
He walked away without the usual John Wayne’s walk that he usually do when we were around.
On that day, I felt that the hug was just his way of saying, “thank you,” for listening to his stories and also getting the respect that no other had given him when he was young.
Many years after that meeting, I heard from my friend that he had died, apparently from all the injuries he had sustained through the years.
Sad as it is, he died a nobody. I never judged him as a gangster, but a young boy yearning to be heard and his cry for help was interwoven into his stories. He was just a lost soul, lost in a society that instead of holding out its hand to help him, it just cordoned him off into the abyss of misery and hopelessness, a very long time ago.
The police cannot do much about Indian gangsterism because they are dealing with the end-stage of our societal disease caused by greedy and uncaring politicians from the Barisan Nasional.
The recent call by Lim Kit Siang for a “high-powered” commission of inquiry to address the issue of gangsterism involving Malaysian Indian youths is timely. And the commission should, according to him, involve all sectors of Malaysian society to highlight the causes and solutions to the problem.
Yes, very true indeed, let’s this be the start of a new era to end the anguish and the pain of the poor Malaysian Indians and to welcome them back into the fold of the main stream society.
After trillions spent on ten Malaysia Plans spanning 50 over years, the problem of gangsterism in the Indian society still persist. And it is getting worse, thanks the Barisan Nasional government.