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Samy Vellu opts for yes-men

Contributed by Anonymous on Friday, July 17 @ 02:37:19 CDT

Samy Vellu has selected his team.
Analysis by Baradan Kuppusamy,
KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — In endorsing Datuk G. Palanivel for the deputy presidency, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has gone back on his word to allow a free and fair fight for all posts in the Sept 12 MIC election.

He has decided to select his team and let the delegates "elect" them as had been done for the past three decades. This is the election that would decide who runs the party for the next decade or so because Samy Vellu’s time is up and he is on his way out after holding the president’s post since 1979. Considering the importance of this election for the future, Samy Vellu had earlier promised a free and fair contest, raising expectations across the party that anybody can contest and have a fair and equal chance at the polls. That promise and the fact that the Samy Vellu era is closing sparked intense lobbying among prospective contestants for all the posts — from deputy president to three vice-president’s posts and 23 seats in the party’s central working committee. But he has gone back on his word and decided on the well-honed system of “selection and election” — a process that produces unquestioning yes-men. Samy Vellu now decides who he wants for all the posts open for contest and from now on he will campaign across the country, taking his team with him, alternatively cajoling, feting or browbeating delegates to get his team "elected". He has chosen his in*****bent deputy Palanivel, whom he helped to win in 2006, as his deputy again, rejecting former deputy Datuk S. Subramaniam with whom he had a brief reunion of sorts after the March 8, 2008 disaster. Samy Vellu has also rejected his loyal vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan in favour of Palanivel. Understandably Subramaniam is upset with this "select and elect" process and said he is shocked Samy Vellu has gone back on his word. Palanivel expressed gratitude to Samy Vellu for selecting him and having confidence in him. Sothinathan, who had expected Samy Vellu to pick him over Palanivel, is equally upset but has vowed to stay in the contest until the very end. With Samy Vellu again backing Palanivel, the in*****bent is expected to have an easy win unless the 1,500 delegates muster enough gumption to reject Samy Vellu's “selection” and instead elect other contestants. Sothinathan is confident he has the support to win but narrowly and is crisscrossing the country meeting delegates and urging them to have an independent mind. Subramaniam’s best hope is for a three-way contest for the deputy presidency to split the vote to give him a slim chance to slip through. He is banking on there being enough delegates to find the courage to reject Samy Vellu's selection. Both Samy Vellu and Palanivel would however vigilantly guard against a split and are likely to keep working on Sothinathan to pull out of the contest and instead contest for vice-president. It’s a crowded field in the vice-president contest with at least eight or nine candidates vying for the three vacancies. Many are state chiefs and even division chairmen. For most, the contest is their final fling before they retire for good from active politics. Samy Vellu’s choice as vice-presidents — Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk K. Devamany — is an excellent one considering the cir*****stances. All three are ministers or deputy ministers and are young, dynamic and capable at politics and their ministerial duties and have been speaking out for the Indian community. They are expected to win easily although there would be fierce contest among them to decide who gets the most number of votes that would decide the pecking order in the MIC after Samy Vellu. Samy Vellu is also selecting 23 members for the central working committee and would want the delegates to elect them. The vast majority would be Samy Vellu’s yes-men. He is likely to allow one or two independent-minded division leaders to win just to give the party election a semblance of democracy. His decision to “select and elect” simply means he will be getting another team of yes-men who are expected to do his bidding until he decides to retire and even beyond that as the power behind the throne. But over and above the election is the still unresolved crisis facing the party — how to win back the Tamil grassroots that have fled to the Pakatan Rakyat. The Indian community is not as excited with this Sept 12 election as it was with many previous elections. There is a wide disconnect between the party and the people it claims to represent and unless they are won back this MIC election is just an academic exercise.



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