Pilihan Raya Kecil Merlimau: Biawak dikata ayam?
In this story, Mohd Ali and Malacca MIC chief R Perumal, visit the mostly Indian village of Kampung Paya Buloh to check out a family which DAP claims is going to sleep hungry more often than not.
“I opened their pot and found that it was a quarter full with rice. I asked them, ‘What lauk (dishes) are you having today?’
“Perumal opened the other pot and found chicken curry!
“Three chicken thighs, and here is DAP claiming that they are poor,” Mohd Ali (centre in photo) said on the issue which came to light following a report by Malaysia Nanban published several days prior to nomination day.
In its report, the Tamil daily spoke to a 13-year-old boy from the family of five, who claims that he is now considering quitting school to work full time as a cowherd to supplement his family’s income as both his parents are sickly.
Once published, the reporter responsible was subjected to harassment from “members of the public” angry with her report.
There was attempt to smash the back windshield of her car that night, but nothing in there was taken. The damage came up to about RM400 in repairs.
Malaysiakini‘s visit to Kampung Paya Buloh supports the Nanban report.
More interestingly, the boy’s father, who wants to only be known as Periamalai (right), said that the chicken curry which Mohd Ali claimed was in their pot, was in fact biawak (monitor lizard) caught by their pet dog.
“We catch biawak several times a week. We don’t really eat chicken as we don’t have a taste for it,” said the 47-year-old.
Indian areas heavily-guarded
The rice Mohd Ali saw, he added, was donated by someone, and that once or twice a week the family goes to bed with rumbling stomachs after downing some porridge, and on really bad days, only water.
Periamalai, who claims to be unable to do heavy manual labour after he was slashed in a fight while his wife is under medication for severe asthma, earns about RM50 day doing odd jobs… that is if he is working.
“Yesterday I worked, today I’m not working, I might be working the day after tomorrow… People can help if they want but I will not beg money from people.
“I’ve applied for welfare at least five or six times before from the JKKK (village committee) and only after the chief minister’s visit has the welfare department come and made me fill a form for assistance,” he said when met.
In another rural part of Merlimau, single father M Seleyan is caring for his four children aged 13 and under with a salary of only RM550.
“I have worked as a gardener in a Tamil school for decades but my salary is the same, even though I have asked for a raise several times.
“None of my children receive welfare, except for one of my sons who gets free lunch at school, even though I have applied a few times,” he said, when met in Kampung Lipat Kajang.
The bill for school fees, books and other schooling needs run up to several hundred ringgit this year, and he has yet to settle them as rental alone gobbles up half of his pay.
Stories like these, however, appear to be kept hidden from the rest of the constituency.
Since the Nanban report, the village has come under watch by what some claim are plainclothes police. Some of these police have apparently come to keep an eye on Malaysiakini when its journalists visited Kampung Paya Buloh.
In once incident, four police personnel were present during a Malaysiakini visit.
One stood arms crossed, barely an arm’s length away from the Malaysiakini videographer, without uttering a word, as a journalist from the news portal spoke to a group of villagers.
When asked who he was, he replied stonily, “Bukit Aman.”
This is not the only Indian-majority area within Merlimau that appears to be heavily guarded by the authorities.
Despite being able to enter the oil palm estates for several days in the campaign, Pakatan representatives were barred from Kempas estate and several others on Wednesday, with guards saying they received the orders from “headquarters”.
BN wants 100 percent Indian votes
At the same time the 1Malaysia NGO, which in several other by-elections had targeted the Chinese community, yesterday threw a big dinner for about 1,000 from the Indian community.
It is understood that the NGO had distributed free tickets for the gala, where the give aways included motorcycles, bicycles and electrical appliances.
When asked by Mohd Ali, who repeated the ‘chicken curry’ story again last night almost all the adults in the hall raised their hands to show that they are Merlimau voters.
“I want to make sure that we get 101 per cent support from Indian voters so we can ignore the one per cent spoiled votes,” he said.
Earlier that day, Mohd Ali claimed that BN had won over about 55 percent of Chinese voters, while DAP believes that their opponent can take about 65 of the Malay votes.
With such estimates, Mohd Ali would indeed need all of the 1510 Indian voters to choose the dacing this Sunday if he wants the winning majority to exceed that of 2008’s.
The psychological war has also reached the Indian community, with the most recent bearing a Perkasa Melaka logo and the words ‘K*****g tak sedar diri’ (Indians don’t know where they stand).
Pakatan is trying to win over the Indian voters by roping in DAP Indian leaders like Ipoh Barat M Kulasegaran who is believed to have arrived in Merlimau today.
They will need to convince people like Periamalai that voting in PAS candidate Yuhaizad Abdullah will mean more money in his pocket and fewer hungry days.
“I will go vote, but I just don’t care. I’ll go there and just cross whoever,” he said.