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Ubaidulla A Fading MIC Star
Posted on Tuesday, June 13 @ 03:13:48 CDT
Topic: MIC
By P. Vijian

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 (Bernama) -- Through thick and thin Tan Sri S.O.K Ubaidulla Kadir Basha stood by the MIC, his favourite political party which he helped establish in 1946, just a decade before the country gained its independence.

As he aged, the party too matured.

At the age of 91, which he is about to celebrate on June 18, six days before the MIC general assembly on June 24, Ubaidulla seems to be far away from the party which he once struggled to build to protect the Indian community's interests in this country.

And neither is the MIC close to the nonagenarian now as the party is busy shaping its own political future.

His decade-long ill health, mainly due to heart ailment, had kept Ubaidulla out of the political arena since 1997, when he made his last public appearance, said one of his sons, Hishamudin Ubaidulla, 50.

"After Party Negara (Ubaildulla was one of the founders) failed, he entered communal politics and joined MIC," Hishamudin told Bernama in an interview here.

Ubaidulla had been active in politics since 1932, when he arrived as a young student sacrificing his university education in Chennai, India, to help his family business in Kuala Lumpur.

Since then, there was no turning back for the young student activist who continued his political activism in his new-found home -- crafting his successful business and political career and later becoming a well-known philanthropist among Malaysians.

In the early days, Ubaidulla started off in the retail trade, selling suitcases and household products, but later ventured into shipping and travel agency, which remained his core business from the '70s.

"He was active in the Independence movement, politics, Tamil literature and Islamic religious activities," said Hishamudin.

But in later years, the father of two sons devoted much of his time to politics and at the same time building his business empire. As a party veteran, he held several senior positions in the MIC.

For instance, in 1975, Ubaidulla was elected MIC vice-president and in 1981 he was reappointed to the Central Working Committee and again in 1984.

In 1984, he was appointed MIC permanent chairman, a post which he still holds until today.

Hishamudin said his father was very much an MIC loyalist. Party unity was what he cared for the most and any internal conflict would really upset him.

"It was a very traumatising time for him during the Datuk S. Subramaniam, (Datuk) K. Pathmanathan, Datuk (Seri S.) Samy Vellu conflict in 1989. He was the mediator and it was really difficult for him.

"It was a great relief for him when it was all over. He was glad for the party."

Hishamudin said his father had a lot of respect for Samy Vellu, who has helmed the party for over a decade.

"He used to say that he had never seen an MIC leader like Samy Vellu. He is a hard worker, said my father," he added.

Ubaidulla now spends time with his close-knit family and dwells little on political developments in the country.

He is oblivious to the strong battle brewing in the MIC that could bring a new line-up after this month's election to decide the party's new agenda for the Indian community.




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