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MIC Elections 2009: ‘Suppressed’ group out to beat Samy Vellu’s line-up

Contributed by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 26 @ 21:59:50 CDT

MIC, By Baradan Kuppusamy KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — As caste issues rise to dominate the Sept 12 MIC elections, the Nammavar group of “suppressed and oppressed” people of lower caste origins is moving out of the shadows and openly mobilising members and delegates to defeat the “official line-up” fielded by long-time MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
Vyran makes his case at a gathering of Nammavar supporters in Klang recently.

His rival for three decades, Datuk S. Subramaniam, who is vying for the deputy president’s post in a three-cornered contest, has his own line-up of candidates that is strongly supported by the Nammavar or Our People movement. Nammavar founder and key strategist Datuk Vyran T. Raj, 49, in an interview with The Malaysian Insider, gave details of the movement, statistics on caste origins of the 1,500 delegates who will decide the outcome and explained why and how it was time for the Nammavar to rise and oust Samy Vellu and his line-up. “The contest is really between us the Nammavar and them, the Avargal,” he said, referring to Samy Vellu and the better-off people gathered around him who dominate MIC politics and enjoy the largesse allocated to the Indian community. “We have a good chance of unseating the official line-up,” said Vyran, a big-sized, stocky man who wears thick glasses and speaks fluent English. Vyran is a self-made millionaire whose parents worked as unskilled labourers for Kuala Lumpur City Hall. “My origins are extreme poverty, severe caste discrimination and total marginalisation," he said. “This is our experience for many years but now we want to change it... to turn the tables,” Vyran said, adding “Our People” was not starting caste politics but was rebelling against caste politics that was rampant in the MIC. “We are rousing ‘Our People’ and using our numbers to ensure victory for Subramaniam. We are hoping for a new deal in the party and Indian community through his victory," he said. Vyran and his Nammavar movement are spreading out across the country by holding meetings in small groups where Vyran explains — with graphs and an overhead projector — to members why and how they continue to be marginalised. “We are sparking a reawakening on all fronts, social, economic and political,” Vyran said, adding there is genuine enthusiasm and support among MIC members, interest that would spark reform long after the MIC elections. “We are now able to enter certain areas and certain MIC divisions that nobody was able to penetrate before,” he said, adding that while grassroots MIC members are aroused, victory or defeat was in the hands of the 1,500 delegates who have long supported Samy Vellu.
Vyran (centre) makes a point at the same gathering.
His support bank is experiencing a mindset change after the March 8, 2008 political tsunami but would it be enough to spark major changes? “Matram or change is our rallying cry and we are confident we have the support of about 800 delegates behind us,” he said. “This is enough to ensure victory unless underhanded and undemocratic means are used to defeat us,” said Vyran, who is not a MIC member but is close to numerous MIC leaders. At a meeting in Klang recently, Vyran explained to some 80 Nammavar supporters that the MIC and the Indian community were at a crossroads. “We have to choose carefully whether we want to vote and keep the old order alive or return leaders who can offer a new agenda for the Indian community,” Vyran said. Other leaders in Nammavar, who declined to be named, said the MIC grassroots were not accepting Samy Vellu’s “official line-up” as they had in previous elections. “They are asking questions and want to elect candidates based on their performance and merits and not on the authority of the party president,” a business tycoon involved in Nammavar said. “Why must he (Samy Vellu) select and then we elect… he should not get involved at all,” he said, adding a “free and fair” election is what the MIC urgently needs to send the "overstayed" packing and bring in a new team.



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