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Subra: There's a campaign to oust me

Contributed by Anonymous on Thursday, February 28 @ 01:23:56 CST

RK Anand | Feb 28, 08 Malaysiakini Former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam has claimed that there is a 'veiled attempt' by certain quarters to engineer his ouster from the party. Although he did not mention names, the veteran politician dropped strong hints that the person referred to could be current MIC deputy president G Palanivel.

In an interview with Malaysiakini yesterday, Subramaniam said these "interested groups" wanted him to contest against MIC president S Samy Vellu or any other Barisan Nasional candidate in order to "get rid of him once and for all.""According to the MIC constitution, I could be expelled if I contest," he added.Subramaniam said Tamil daily Malaysia Nanban - which he described as a publication that is "not supportive nor against" him - had started the speculation that he would be given a seat.Following this, he said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was asked about this on two occasions by non-vernacular newspapers."I have a feeling there is an attempt by somebody inside (the party) with a vested interest to see that I am out so that they could succeed."It's a two-pronged attack. One is to see that I contest and cease to be a member, the other is to say that Samy Vellu has overstayed and it is about time he left," he said."It is very obvious who would be the beneficiary," he added.'Never wanted to be a hero'Subramaniam also suggested that the media was being used to achieve these goals. Among others, he cited a report penned by a freelance writer which was published in Malaysiakini recently.The report - titled 'Subra bows out after raising expectations' - stated that the former MIC deputy president could have become a hero if he had challenged Samy Vellu in the polls. "This is an attempt by somebody interested ... If Samy Vellu retires tomorrow, I am not the beneficiary, I am not going to succeed him, I am not the deputy president," said Subramaniam."I have never wanted to be a hero," he added.Asked if he was referring to Palanivel and whether the MIC deputy president still considered him a threat, Subramaniam replied: "I am not saying he is the one responsible for the veiled attempt." "The articles which appeared (about me contesting in the polls) should have been written in 2004 when I was deputy president, then I could have been a beneficiary. "So whether it is a concerted effort, or whether it is being done in collusion, I wouldn't know the truth. But it is very obvious who the beneficiary (is), he said."Whether he (Palanivel) still considers me a threat, I am not interested," he added.Subramaniam was defeated by Palanivel in the 2006 party elections. The latter had the full backing of the party president whose ties with Subramaniam had been strained for years.Never asked for seat Meanwhile, Subramaniam also stressed that he did not ask anybody for a seat in this general election."On two occasions when I was deputy president, I was denied a seat. If I had contested then, there would have been some justification. Now, I am not the deputy president and to expect me to contest is wrong," he said.However, he said there was a "strong feeling" that fielding him in the general election could help reduce the negative impact amongst the Indian community in the wake of the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).Subramamiam also stressed that he would always remain a MIC loyalist and had never considered standing against a BN candidate, let alone Samy Vellu. He also denied the speculation that he was in discussion with the prime minister's team of advisers - popularly referred to as the 'fourth floor' - to make a political comeback in this elections."I did not meet with any fourth floor officials, but the prime minister, I meet him from time to time - I meet him casually but there was no discussion about seats," he said.As for his future plans, Subramaniam said he was currently focusing on the general election and would decide on this later.The former MIC deputy president also said that he would be campaigning for BN in this elections.*********Ex-deputy president: MIC facing tall order RK Anand | Feb 28, 08 2:12pm Retaining all its nine parliamentary and 19 state seats in this general election will be a tall order for MIC, said the party's former deputy president S Subramaniam.In an interview with Malaysiakini yesterday, he said while the party will hold on to a majority of its seats, there is a possibility that some may fall due to the current political climate. "The party may face great obstacles in several constituencies, but I think they will be able to retain a large majority of the seats."There are three or four seats where the fight is very bitter, most of them are in the north ... Penang, Kedah ... even in Selangor the contest is very stiff," he added.However, he pointed out that in places where there are weaknesses in terms of Indian votes, these seats can still be salvaged with the votes from other races."This has always been Barisan Nasional's (BN) advantage and this is likely to happen again," he said.Hindraf effectSubramaniam also acknowledged that the sentiments generated by the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) will definitely have an impact on this polls.Since the rally, MIC and its veteran president S Samy Vellu have come under intense pressure to deliver the votes.In the past, the Indian community has always been seen as a staunch supporter of the ruling coalition but now pundits are predicting a sharp swing.In an attempt to counter this, MIC has introduced a bevy of new faces in its election line-up.Asked if the list contained credible candidates capable of regaining lost ground, Subramaniam replied: "We have to wait and see." "There are no outstanding candidates, I would rate them as mediocre. But after the elections, by their service, they might turn out to be credible or good candidates," he added.Denial syndromeConceding that MIC is now facing problems, Subramaniam said some people however suffer from a "denial syndrome" and continue to say that nothing is wrong."But there are problems. This is not only said by me, but even the government also said there are problems which it will attend to," he added."The party is a good party. The question is, what is the dissatisfaction of the people towards the party? That has to be resolved, that has to be eliminated."Asked if Samy Vellu is suffering from denial syndrome, Subramaniam, who was tickled by this, replied: "You have to check with him. I am not saying it." "But some people continue to say that nothing is wrong, that is not true. The government has acknowledged some of the problems raised by the community. So all is not well." To the suggestion that Hindraf managed to do more for the community in a short period compared to MIC, Subramaniam said the party has also contributed much over the decades. "Hindraf has given an impetus or a sharp reawakening of the issues," he said.Fragmented partySubramaniam said while MIC continues to be a good platform, the party has become fragmented over the last two decades. "Large chunks of people have been ostracised from the party," he noted. "Now you have Indians, not only in MIC, but there are Indians in IPF, PPP, Gerakan, DAP and PKR." "I can name several hundreds who were originally MIC members or leaders at the branch level who have moved on to these parties," he added.As for the reason behind this fragmentation, Subramaniam said one of the contributing factors is that those who oppose the leadership are expelled or suspended.Asked if having a president for nearly 30 years is healthy for a political party, he replied: "There is no question that a three-decade leadership will see opposition building over the long period of time.""Politics is dynamic and change has to accompany it or it will breed unhappiness, hatred, disappointment and disillusionment. This is natural," he said.The former MIC deputy president also noted that democracy has its weaknesses and when power is concentrated in the hands of one person or a group, it can be abused.Asked if Samy Vellu has abused these weakness, he said: "Sometimes if we get large numbers of Indians being made partyless, meaning their branch is closed, or if they are expelled or removed, this is not healthy." "But the powers are there and the constitution provides for this. So it is a question of how you use it," he added.Past presidentsTo illustrate his point, Subramaniam cited the leadership traits of past MIC presidents V Manickavsagam and S Sambanthan.He said these leaders even accommodated those who had opposing views in order to ensure that the party remains united.Citing Umno as another example, he said: "There have been people who fought the president but are brought back to the party and given important positions.""A party has to be accommodative of not only those who agree with you, but also those who disagree with you. This is democracy, you must be able to accept this."On whether Samy Vellu has overstayed his welcome, Subramaniam said: "Well if the people want to elect him, he would stay."However, he refused to comment further on this, saying that it was inappropriate since the elections are here."I am still a MIC member. My heart and soul is with MIC and BN."Recently, Samy Vellu announced that this 'may be' his last term. In the March 8 polls, the 71-year-old president will be defending his Sungai Siput parliamentary seat for the ninth time.Ties between Subramaniam and the MIC president have been strained for years, culminating in the former's defeat for the number two post in the 2006 party elections to the Samy Vellu-endorsed candidate, G Palanivel. *********

Samy revives late 'MGR' for votes B Mahendran | Feb 28, 08 3:58pm Embattled MIC president S Samy Vellu is hoping to use the star power of Tamil actor MG Ramachandran to rope in the votes in this general election.Last night, the late actor - who is popularly known as MGR - was raised from the dead in the form of an impersonator for an event in Sungai Siput, Perak.Samy Vellu was also present at the bash which had numerous local performers belting out songs and dancing to the tunes.The MIC president, who looked exhausted, rushed to the venue from an earlier ceramah in Lintang. Also present was his running mate and Jalong state seat candidate, Cheah Chee Kuan.Surrounded by an army of local Barisan Nasional leaders, the 71-year-old politician walked through the night market on his way to the stage.He mingled with the traders and patrons who appeared rather startled by his unannounced presence.Across the road, his rival from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Dr D Jeyakumar was leading a 10-member delegation.The duo - who are facing each other for the third time - did not acknowledge each other’s presence. Jeyakumar will be contesting under the PKR banner. Addressing a crowd of 200, mostly MIC members, Samy Vellu asked them to vote for him and Cheah in the March 8 polls."We will bring development and changes. We will look after of all the demands of the people of Sungai Siput," he pledged. PSM ceramahAbout 10 meters behind the MIC stage, was PSM's makeshift stage - a lorry trailer. Some 400 people gathered to hear Jeyakumar and DAP Jalong candidate Lee Mee Meng.However, their voices were nearly drowned by the music blaring from the huge speakers at the MIC event."Look at the gap, it's just a stone's throw away. They (MIC) are using their financial might and intimidating the voters. They will only make people hate them more with such cheap tactics," said an enraged local resident, T Rajen, 34.A DAP volunteer claimed that the crowd at their ceramah was "genuine and not paid" to attend the function. "Their stage alone cost RM5,000, ours is a lorry, given by a member for free. The people’s support for us is genuine," said the volunteer, who only identified himself as Chai.While MIC is confident of retaining the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat, party insiders agree that they might lose some of the support from the Indian voters.Businessman A Sakthi Vellu, who converted his building to a temporary MIC operations centre, said the business community here supported Samy Vellu. His younger brother Kumar, an MIC volunteer, is also confident of a victory."We have the Malay and Chinese votes. No problem with that," he said.As Samy Vellu left the area, an old Tamil song was played and the lyrics went "Aacham Enpathu Madamaiyada." (There is no reason to fear).

Taking on Samy in Sg Siput Helen Ang | Feb 28, 08 3:39pm Is there a chance for Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj to become the Samy slayer in Sungai Siput? Asked if he thought he could snag a winning margin, Dr Kumar replies: "Difficult, I think it’s very difficult." This general election marks the third time that the medical practitioner is mounting a challenge against Samy Vellu for the parliamentary seat which registered 46,783 voters in the previous polls. The safe seat in Perak had in the past been an MIC stronghold. Indians, making up 22.6% of the electorate, are a sizeable voting bloc while Malays and Chinese number 36.3% and 40.2% respectively. MIC chief Samy could before rely on rock solid support from Sg Siput Indians but there’s of course now the Hindraf factor to contend with. Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has surmised that disenchanted Indians are today’s ‘kingmakers’ and could swing the election. Dr Kumar predicts that this time he might possibly corner up to 60% of the community’s vote, compared to 36% in 2004 and 17% in 1999. He expects independent candidate businessman Nor Rizan Oon to have little impact in the three-cornered fight and said postal votes had not been spoilers in the constituency. But can Dr Kumar succeed in harvesting the current discontent against the government to pip the in*****bent to the post? Samy had waltzed away with a majority of 10,349 the prior round.As Parti Sosialis Malaysia candidate, Dr Kumar can hope to rely on PSM’s Indian support base. He projects that standing on the PKR ticket [more in Q & A below] he can also bank on the Malay catchment though not collecting the maximum number of Chinese votes that a strong DAP contender would otherwise be able to garner.If the winds of change are blowing strong, why is Dr Kumar seemingly downplaying the possibility of causing an upset? He explains that the wrangling between Opposition parties running up to nomination day had caused some bad blood on the ground. The less-than-unified front did not possess its opponent’s cohesiveness – or if you choose to look at it another way, Umno’s dictatorial say-so in the ruling coalition – on the matter of seat allocation. Nonetheless betting on his chances, Dr Kumar reckons: "I think it’s better than the first two times." Why? "This government is characterised by its corruption, its misuse of government funds, crony contracts, destruction of the judiciary, destruction of all the institutions, privatisation. This government requires to be shown the door. It has very little saving graces." Makkal SakthiDr Kumar doesn’t see Makkal Sakthi as an invention of Hindraf though it is the Hindu movement that has popularised it as a buzzword. He prefers to see Makkal Sakthi as ‘kuasa rakyat’ (People Power) or ‘Hidup pekerja!’ (Workers Unite). His political orientation is naturally, as befitting his party affiliation, socialistic. He has even a huge poster of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara as centrepiece in his operations centre. Dr Kumar’s concerns are in the areas of labour laws, minimum wages, union rights and privatisation (he is secretary of the Coalition against the Privatisation of Health Services). We discuss his widely-circulated November critique on Hindraf. He views Indians as a genuinely oppressed group whose long frustration has come to a boil. The ‘Indian problems’ are real enough in Sg Siput, such as urban squatters who have lost their jobs and homes in the plantation sector. Does Dr Kumar truly believe Malaysians will be able to approach the issue of Indian marginalisation on the basis of class rather than religion and race, as he advocated idealistically in his Hindraf treatise? He concedes that it wouldn’t have happened last year. "It won’t come overnight. You’ve got to develop a programme. Work on it. Hard work." He says the direction to take is to expand on an issues-based rather than communal-based activism. I ask him how he sees the ‘activist’ label tagged to him. "An activist is someone who challenges unjust laws and structures by mobilising the people who are affected by those things. The source of your power to affect change is not yourself, not your clever arguments but the people." Note: PSM has failed to be registered as a political party since its first application in 1998; the authorities see it as a "national security threat". EXCERPTS FROM Q & A:Q: If you get into Parliament, would you be a Keadilan MP?I’ll be a PSM MP on a Keadilan ticket.Yes, but I’d like an explanation on what that really entails.What that entails is because the Parti Sosialis is not registered by the government, it won’t recognise me as a PSM MP. But because I’m a PSM candidate, a PSM party member, the issues we bring up would be the PSM analysis, the PSM ideology. And in most of the cases, it would be similar to Keadilan. We’re all for good governance, we’re all against corruption, we want a better deal for poorer Malaysians, we’re against racial politics. I think in a lot of things, in 90% of things, we’d be identical to the Keadilan position. But there are some other things where we differ with Keadilan. Like for example, regarding free trade with America where there are some differences between our positions because we see the whole world trading system as something which is unequal and unfair. It’s favouring the rich countries and it’s favouring the corporations in the rich countries. And it’s critical to have an analysis of that to understand what they’re trying to do with the free trade thing, which I think many of the political parties in Malaysia do not have. Of course if the issue of that comes up, we wouldn’t be following the other parties’ analysis, we’d be following our own analysis.But then there is such a thing as the party whip. No, we are a special case. In Selangor, two of our colleagues there are contesting under Keadilan, and the Keadilan leaders know, it’s pretty clear: ‘We’re standing on your ticket; we’re not joining your party’. There are a lot of commonalities but there are some differences. Like for example, we put a very, very heavy emphasis on area work and going down to the grassroots and bringing the grassroots things up. You see Keadilan put on a lot of emphasis on Anwar Ibrahim. He’s a good speaker. I think he’s miles, miles better than Nazri and Hishamuddin, and they’re the bottom of the barrel. He’s much, much better. I mean there’s no comparison with those guys. So I got no problem working with him but we will not build a party on a personality. We will not think that so important. We would think that it’s very important to have grassroots work, grassroots mobilisation. In that way, we’re much more like the Makkal Sakthi guys because we believe in People Power. When the differences come up, we’ll be taking up our own analysis, not other peoples. (Hypothetically speaking) For the duration that you’re in Parliament, you’d be under the Keadilan symbol then if it comes to a headcount? I think on most issues, I see myself voting with them, definitely. I think in Parliament, even if PAS brings up something or DAP brings up something, I’d probably go with them, isn’t it? I mean, that’s not a problem. Why do you think you stand a better chance this election?Poor governance is getting worse with time. Like for example, the Lingam case coming out now, people can see how bad the rot is. Crony contracts, construction … I’ve never seen so many houses and buildings and structures actually collapsing on us. The rot has gone so deep, the system is rotting. And as time progresses, the rot gets worse and worse, it’s getting more and more apparent what’s happening. That’s on the national level.On the local level, we’ve worked continuously here from ’99 doing work with people. So I think all of that count for something. And the fact that like now, I can turn and say, "Look, when I say I go to Parliament and do this, this and this", they can trust me because this is the record. I’m here every week. We have helped so many thousands of cases in my service centre. We’ve helped about 20 different community funds. We’ve got involved in (the coalition against) the privatisation of hospitals, the privatisation of water. We have done what we can do. If you give me the mandate, we can do the other things. I’m not just a politician who’s bluffing you. You can see my track record. We’ve been around here nine years. And without the ‘peruntukan’ (budget), without funds, we’ve done so much. And it’s not just one person, it’s a team. I represent the team, I’m a team player. All the people out there (in the packed operations centre) came, not because they’re paid but because they believe in what we’re doing. (We’ve) no paid campaign workers. There are people have taken two weeks’ leave just to come down and be with us. We have a core of about 40 people. So basically, it’s run on that.To sum up his political philosophy, Dr Kumar says: "We need the people of all races to come together and reclaim the country."



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