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Chitrakala: Samy Vellu was my inspiration but I regret the day I met him, says Chitrakalla

Contributed by Anonymous on Saturday, March 07 @ 03:08:32 CST

By Baradan Kuppusamy, March 07 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — “He was my inspiration since I was 11 years old but now I regret the day I met him,” says P. Chitrakalla Vasu, the 38-year-old mother of four, referring to MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu with whom she is now involved in a furious “do-or-die” battle. They had a long and fruitful relationship; he was the visionary and she was the woman who slogged to realise his dreams.

But today they are accusing each other of thievery, immorality and betrayal. Samy Vellu, 73, has vowed to finish off Chitrakalla, the woman he put in place as chief executive of MIED, the education arm of the MIC. He is accusing her of misappropriating MIED money. She is accusing him of hijacking MIED and tsunami relief funds and betraying the trust of the Indian community. On Samy Vellu’s instruction, MIED has lodged several police reports against her. She has retaliated, lodging two reports against Samy Vellu in the tit-for-tat war. Even as police investigate these allegations, their war has worsened with Chitrakalla boldly walking into Parliament lobby twice this week and openly hobnobbing with opposition MPs. She has requested for an appointment to see Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to “complaint and tell all” about Samy Vellu. “I need to see somebody higher up than Samy Vellu… if I don’t get to see him (Najib) I might see opposition leader Anwar (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim),” she said on Wednesday, daring Samy Vellu or anyone to stop her. “I have nothing to hide, he (Samy Vellu) has everything to hide,” she said defiantly. Their open war is the talk of the MIC and the country. Yet at one time their relationship could not have been cosier and was the envy of Samy Vellu’s inner circle. She had easy, open and instant access to Samy Vellu for over 15 years. He openly showed his liking for her before everyone. “The inner circle seeing their special relationship treated her as a queen… nobody dared to annoy her and everybody pleased her,” said a MIC insider, recalling the good times. The man Chitrakalla hates so much today was more than a friend or a benefactor but was almost her godfather — a man who supported, defended and stood by her for over 20 years. Ironically the first person to acknowledge Samy Vellu’s bounty is Chitrakalla herself. “He financed my education, launched my career and got me started in business. He got for my husband contracts and licences. He was our greatest benefactor,” she said. (She readily admits Samy Vellu personally met former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Najib to help get for her husband a Proton and a Perodua outlet and management of a National Service camp.) “But it’s all over now,” Chitrakalla said in an interview with The Malaysian Insider this week, opening the door to her life story. She talked about how she met Samy Vellu, how he inspired her, how he grew attached to her, and her 15 years as MIED CEO and the spark that exploded into a massive fallout between them that is now public knowledge. “I hate him, I regret the day I met him and got sucked into his world,” she said, remembering the time as an 11-year-old when she met Samy Vellu in Ipoh in 1982. She was a Standard Five student at a Tamil school in the city and was due to get an award for her excellent grades at a ceremony where Samy Vellu presided. “I arrived late and the ceremony had ended. I did what children at my age do — I cried aloud,” she said. “Samy Vellu noticed and called me to come up to stage to receive the award.” It was a pen. “It was a magnanimous act. I was touched and inspired,” Chitrakalla said.
Chitrakalla says the MIC president has tarnished her name.
That was their first meeting and from then on Chitrakalla, whose father is a retired police clerk, followed Samy Vellu’s career in the newspapers and heard him speak every Sunday over radio. “It was a joy listening to him. Few could match his command of the Tamil language, his oratory skills and powerful delivery,” she wrote, remembering her first encounter with him in a coffeetable book, “Samy Vellu, As We Know Him”, some 27 years later. About 10 years after that first encounter their paths crossed again. She was 21 and had won, for an Indian, a rare Mara scholarship to study accountancy in England. But there was one catch — she was bonded to work as a teacher of accountancy for five years. “I wanted to work not teach and was in a dilemma and someone suggested I seek Samy Vellu’s help to get the scholarship without a bond,” she said. Then, as is still the case now, it was easy for any person to see Samy Vellu, who opens his office to the public every Tuesday. One need only take a number, although the wait can be long because the queue is usually long. “One Tuesday in March 1991 I parked myself at his office and waited to see the man who had been an inspiration to me since I was 11,” she said. After some difficulties, she met Samy Vellu and narrated her problems. “He instantly picked up the telephone and called Mara and argued on my behalf to lift the bond. But they refused.” “He put down the phone, look up to me and said ‘cancel the Mara scholarship, I will finance your studies’,” she said. “It was just like that.” True enough Samy Vellu connected her to the Antah Bywater Foundation in London which paid for her studies. One of her prized possessions is a laminated copy of a personal cheque from Samy Vellu for RM750 which was to pay for a local examination with Systematic Business Training Centre. “Just imagine the impact he made on me with that announcement,” she said. “He was my hero, a man of his words and a great benefactor. He respected my grades, recognised my talents and generously supported me.” After that the student and benefactor went separate ways — she left for London, completed her studies and returned home in 1995 to land her first job as an accountant with a firm in Singapore. During that time Samy Vellu was embroiled in Maika Holdings’ Telekoms share scandal from which, despite huge negative publicity, he managed to wriggle his way out. One day in July 1995 their paths crossed again, this time at the Ipoh airport — she was leaving for Singapore and he was arriving from Kuala Lumpur. “My father noticed him and urged me to say hello to him. We walked up to him and struck up a conversation. He remembered me, he remembered even my name,” she said. Samy Vellu said he was looking for someone to run MIED and on the spot offered her the job. “I declined but he was persistent and persuaded me by saying the Indian community stands to benefit if I take the job,” she said. That’s how she started work at the MIC headquarters as MIED CEO and struck up an open and unique relationship with her benefactor that lasted through thick and thin for 15 years. Their relationship was cosy enough for the tongues to wag. “Persistent gossip dogged me that I was having an affair with Samy Vellu. I was not that type but people keep gossiping,” she said. “I was married and having children but the MIC culture was like that. The gossip got under my skin and I resigned in 2002,” she said. But two years later she was back, persuaded again by Samy Vellu who argued he needed someone capable that he could trust to successfully complete the AIMST University project. Their relationship blossomed once again and the university was completed in time and opened to students in July 2008 — for Samy Vellu the realisation of a cherished dream. “I was happy to have realised it for him,” Chitrakalla said. While the MIC inner circle happily gossiped about them, Chitrakalla kept a distance while continuing to serve Samy Vellu. “Samy Vellu continued to enjoy and take delight in her presence. His demeanour showed he liked her tremendous especially as she was outspoken,” said a party insider. But the cir*****stances suddenly changed, the good life came to an end and in the end bad blood soured their relationship. The MIC’s massive defeat on March 8, 2008 with Samy Vellu himself biting the dust was the spark that eventually let to a fallout between them. “He was insecure and saw enemies everywhere. He suspected everyone and the loyalties of the inner circle were all sorely tested,” she said. This was also the time when Samy Vellu began to rely more on his son Vel Paari and less on other top leaders. At the same time, insiders said, Chitrakalla and others in the inner circle realised the writing was on the wall for Samy Vellu and tried to move out of the large shadow he cast. They had to consider a life without the protection and succour that was Samy Vellu. Some shifted political sides while others gave more attention to business. In weeks after March 8 the role and influence of Vel Paari grew as the only person who could be trusted. It was also a time when MIC division leaders were speaking up against Samy Vellu and he suspected his deputy Datuk G. Palanivel of being behind a “rebellion” which eventually died a natural death. “It got worst by the week and he started to question everything I did,” she said. “It finally dawned on me that with him relying so much on his son, my usefulness as MIED CEO was over.” After that it was one stormy scene after another. “Soon I felt like the curry leaves you use to fry for its fragrance but discarded after the cooking is done,” Chitrakalla said. “I feel like I have been cooked and now discarded. I am not needed anymore… my usefulness was over,” she said. “If he had politely told me to leave I would have left without a murmur. But the manner he pushed me out, the way he picked a fight with me and the way he tarnished my name in private and public is unacceptable,” she said. “That’s why I am taking him on… because I am a respectable woman, he has embarrassed me,” she said.



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