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Subra confident despite 'dirty tactics'

Contributed by Anonymous on Thursday, June 22 @ 21:17:04 CDT

MICTerence Fernandez
The Sun 23/06/06

The interview was scheduled for 10am, but Datuk S. Subramaniam only appeared in the living room an hour later.

"I slept at 4am and woke up at 8am. I had to answer 50 calls," he apologised.

It was not a solitary wait for the in*****bent MIC deputy president, as his home was a busy thouroughfare with supporters and aides walking in and out of his Section 16, Petaling Jaya bungalow.

One of them was a delegate from Perak who claimed that he and 22 others who supported Subramaniam have been suspended for money politics.

Dressed in an orange shirt and white pants, Subramaniam was a picture of calm. In spite of all that has been going on, he seemed as comfortable as his white bedroom slippers.

Having had no chance to watch the World Cup matches, Subramaniam, 64, is in a tournament of his own - defending his post against vice-president Datuk G. Palanivel.

In Saturday's party polls, he will know if he returns to a post he has held for 24 years - or give way to a new era in the MIC with Palanivel, the Women and Family Development Deputy Minister.

Despite being the in*****bent, Subramaniam is the underdog in this race, as his long-estranged party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has openly endorsed Palanivel as his preferred choice.

Subramaniam, however, seems unperturbed inspite of the personal attacks he has endured - salvos mostly fired by Samy Vellu - and what Subramaniam claims are underhanded tactics to oust him.

Among them is the politics of intimidation, where supporters are told not to meet him.

"When I go to a constituency, come for a meeting or tea at the MIC office, I don't get to see these people.

"These are dirty tactics," claimed Subramaniam, whom Samy Vellu dropped as a deputy minister and MP in 2003.

But, he is not losing sleep.

"Delegates are smarter than some people give them credit for. They say 'we know what is happening and we are sorry for you'."

Keeping his cards close to his chest - similar to his quiet and subtle campaigning - Subramaniam declined to assess if delegates' sympathy would translate into votes.

But, he is confident that when the time comes, delegates will consider his sacrifices, contributions "and the truth!"

"They will forget this drama and psychological warfare." Subramaniam said he refrains from resorting to personal attacks as "at the end of the day, I will still have to work him".

"Also, I will feel less of a man. I don't want to hurt people as I know how it feels," said the St John's Institution old boy, conceding that Palanivel does not resort to gutter campaigning.

"Certain people talk about me behind closed doors in an uncultured way, but the more you attack me, the more delegates will detest this.

"Delegates know there is an attempt to dig my political grave. They cannot see any truth in allegations that I have been back-stabbing somebody for 24 years."

Subramaniam challenged Samy Vellu for the presidency two decades ago - something the latter has never forgiven him for.

"I support the president. I am a loyal deputy," he keeps saying.

However, Samy Vellu does not seem to be convinced, acussing Subramaniam of not supporting him when when remarks about his leadership was made by third parties.

"There is no one better to defend the president than the president! I have supported all decisions regarding party issues, whenever he was criticised, I supported him.

"When I was dropped, I still went down and helped. I did not make a fuss. I did not contribute to open dissent."

He said as Samy Vellu has chosen to carry out a campaign for Palanivel, there is manouveringmanoeuvring to make it as though it is a contest between Samy Vellu and Subramaniam.

"There is talk that if Palanivel loses, the president loses face. I don't think so, as the contest is for the deputy's post," he said.

However, if Subramaniam wins, the next hurdle is for him not to end up a lame-duck deputy.

But, he is confident of getting the support of the president as well as the president's men.

"They can't keep me in cold storage. When the people choose, you have no choice but to accept. I will serve regardless of the choice of the delegates."

While he tried to remain philosophical about his chances, Subramaniam let in on his confidence level when asked what if he loses: "Such thoughts never crossed my mind! I believe the delegates will make the right choice."

With no government machinery at his disposal, and ground campaigning limited, Subramaniam is reliant on the media to put forth his manifesto. However, he said, to his dismay, certain individuals within the media seem to have their own agenda.

"They will say 'two newspapers aligned to Subramaniam', but they will not say the third newspaper, which is opposed to Subra is owned by whom.

"Why don't you say 'Tamil Nesan which is owned by Samy Vellu's family?..."

Subramaniam also took offence to Palanivel's assessment in a recent interview that when a person have been in a position for too long he becomes desensitised to the needs of the people.

"I don't see any logic in that statement. Is he refering to me or the president? Does he think 24 years is longer than 27?"

"As deputy, I have done everything to implement programmes and I assist the president in all ways, and I don't see anyone else in the party who can perform better."

Pooh-pooing suggestions that he is at a disadvantage since he does not hold a government post like Palanivel, Subramaniam said one does not need government machinery to serve.

"Of course, you will have some perks and advantages in a government position, I don't begrudge that but I have served the party without positions!"

"There are dozens of division chairmen who serve without position," he said.

"But," he asked, "how much manipulations is going on by the entire party machinery? Because the president says this is the preferred candidate, everybody is asked to say things along those lines."

On a recent complaint lodged with the Election Committee, Subramaniam said in his campaigning, delegates have expressed fears of shortcomings in the election process.

"They have said there are people saying your vote will be found out, voting is not secret, handphones will be given to record whom you vote for ...

"This is not the first time. So I wrote to the election committee to say I have confidence that the committee will be fair and conduct an inquiry," he explained.

Subramaniam is also not banking on a trend in the MIC where the Number One and Number Two positions never go to candidates from the same faction.

"I dissuade factionism in the MIC.

"There have been attempts to say that if I win the deputy presidency, I'll finish-off those who are opposed to me. This is total rubbish!

"I have not finished off anybody! The MIC does not belong to me, I belong to the MIC!"



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