themalaysianinsider.com, 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
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
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
“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
“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.
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.