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Samy Vellu's Biggest Fear Of Money Politics Comes True

Contributed by Anonymous on Saturday, March 25 @ 21:28:51 CST

MICMarch 24, 2006 18:26 PM

A News Analysis By S. Retnanathan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 (Bernama) -- At a press conference during last year's MIC General Assembly, party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said there was no necessity for the party to have a code of conduct for members aspiring for posts in party elections at all levels.

"There is no need for that. National and grassroots leaders know what they can and cannot do but my biggest fear is money politics.

"I hope the party will not be dragged into it," he said then.

After about a year, the MIC supremo yesterday announced at least one MIC division -- Bagan in Penang -- is being investigated for money politics.

Apparently, one leader in the division, through his own admission, had spent a whopping RM3 million over the last five years funding activities in the division, including paying subscription fees of 16 branches under the division, in the hope of securing a post in the division.

Although the figure could be stretching the truth a bit too far, the fact remains -- money politics has crept into MIC.

If it is not nipped in the bud, it can have a cancerous effect, spreading like wild fire, paralysing and ruining the country's largest Indian-based political party.

Another four divisions -- Pagoh and Kluang (both in Johor), Teluk Kemang (in Negeri Sembilan) and Tambun (Perak) -- were also investigated but cleared from dabbling in money politics.

"We still hear allegations of hanky-panky in some divisions and we are investigating them...this will be an on-going process," MIC Disciplinary Committee head Tan Sri G. Vadiveloo told Bernama.

Among the divisions under probe is Teluk Intan where the committee found evidence of money being handed out to solicit delegates' support.

Vadiveloo, a lawyer, contends that there is a fine line between what constitutes money politics and a normal practice during divisional elections.

"Something like giving out bags or briefcases to delegates cannot be misconstrued as money politics. It has to be explicit in nature.

"We also cannot say a division leader vying for a post cannot have drinks with delegates who will be voting in the election...just because he is having a drink does not necessarily mean he paid for it.

"The same goes to educational trips if the aspirant is a state assemblyman. If he takes some delegates for a trip to another state or division, is that going to be considered as money politics, when in actual fact the state assemblyman gets a certain allocation for education trips," Vadiveloo said.

A veteran party leader, who declined to be named, however, argues that while it was not money politics, it could be regarded as abuse of power as the assemblyman was using state funds for his own interests.

Whatever arguments put forth, it cannot be denied that the cancerous money politics has taken root in MIC.

What the MIC top leadership should consider now is concrete measures to address the problem. They can take the cue from Umno which has set up an independent board to probe indiscipline cases and more importantly, money politics.

Even with the drastic steps taken by Umno, talk and murmurs of money politics can still be heard in Umno during the party polls.

This is an example of how difficult it will be to tackle money politics once it has taken root.

While money politics can bring a windfall to voting delegates, it can also bring the party to its "knees" as only those who have the ringgit to splash will be voted to power.

"I feel the whole issue of money politics has been blown up. While it is not rampant now, it may be in the future. The president is right in ridding the problem at its roots," Vadiveloo said.

But why is the problem rearing its ugly head now? The answer is simple -- the MIC is in its election year and the tussle for national posts -- deputy president, three vice-presidents and 23 central working committee -- is beginning to take shape.

All these positions will be decided by divisional delegates who are elected by branch leaders.

"So if you are going for a national post, you have to ensure your men become divisional delegates...then your winning chances at national level is brighter," said the veteran leader.

Divisional elections will conclude tomorrow except for a few divisions whose meetings were suspended or their elections declared null and void for various reasons.

Elections for top leadership positions will be held in June. Samy Vellu won the president's post unopposed on March 5 for a record 10th term.

In the June election, MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam will most likely be challenged by in*****bent vice-president Datuk G. Palanivel.

For the three vice-president's posts, Samy Vellu has named in*****bents Datuk S. Veerasingham and Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar to defend their posts while party secretary-general Datuk S. Sothinathan will fill up the third spot.

The three "president's men" are expected to be challenged by Negeri Sembilan veteran MIC leader Datuk M. Muthupalaniappan and Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory MIC chief Datuk V.K.K. Teagarajan.

One or two others are expected to join the fray.

The scramble is also on for the 23 CWC seats. Though Samy Vellu has yet to announce his "anointed" candidates, many are trying to get into the "president's menu".

-- BERNAMA

 
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