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Subra hopes to ride ‘winds of change’

Contributed by Anonymous on Sunday, September 06 @ 10:59:29 CDT

MIC, Sep 06 2009
By Baradan Kuppusamy
Subramaniam is hoping the growing call for change will carry him to victory in the coming MIC elections. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 — Despite the odds, veteran MIC leader Datuk S. Subramaniam is confident the “winds of change” are blowing in the MIC and will see him victorious on September 12 when 1,500 delegates pick the winners in one of the most hotly contested party elections ever

Subramaniam is vying to be deputy president in a three-cornered fight and has fielded a line-up of his supporters in a faceoff with the “official line-up” of party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the first time he has ever done so. Wearing his trademark red, short sleeved shirt, the bespectacled Subramaniam greeted The Malaysian Insider team with a big grin at his home in the leafy Section 16 neighbourhood of Petaling Jaya near here. Pushing 65 and yet nary a grey hair on his head or moustache, nor a wrinkle on his face and hands. What is his secret? “A gift from the gods,” said Subramaniam. He jumped to the occasion to rib Samy Vellu, his arch political rival for 30 years. “You know one reason he (Samy Vellu) is always upset with me is my youthful appearance. “He refers to me as mapillai (groom) or Indran’s son in a negative way,” Subramaniam said, his longstanding grievances welling up easily as the interview starts. “I am not just fighting two opponents for the deputy president’s post… there is a third candidate and that’s Samy Vellu,” he said. “I am fighting Samy and his candidate (Datuk G. Palanivel) and another (Datuk S. Sothinathan).” “He should not interfere… there should be a free and fair election,” Subramaniam said, adding that “there is a groundswell in the MIC for a major change.” “If the balloting is fair and the counting above board I stand a good chance to win along with my line up,” he said in urging the election committee headed by Datuk K. Vijayanathan to ensure that the voting is fair and free from any pressure and interference. Subramaniam, who first joined the MIC in 1962 and was later appointed the party’s executive secretary and secretary general, was deputy president of the party since 1981 until he lost the post to Palanivel in 2006. In that contest, Subramaniam lost by 438 votes to Palanivel who was strongly supported by Samy Vellu. Like now, the contest then was also seen as a Samy Vellu versus Subramaniam contest, with Palanivel tagging along. This time, however, there is a spoiler in the form of Sothinathan, a former Samy Vellu protégé who insisted on running despite advice from Samy Vellu to step back. Sothinathan and Subramaniam are both from the gounder caste, whose members number about 400 in the party and have always stood by Subramaniam in good and bad times. There is fear in Subramaniam’s camp that Sothinathan might split the gounder votes but recent developments show, Subramaniam supporters said, Sothinathan’s contest is eating into Samy Vellu’s vote bank meaning the more votes he gets, the fewer votes Palanivel will secure. With the votes split three ways, Subramaniam is hoping to secure enough votes to win as deputy president. “There is a cry for change in the party and the Indian community,” Subramaniam told The Malaysian Insider. “We cannot ignore this rising demand for change, for a new leadership and for new hope.” “I see this contest as the final chance for democracy in MIC,” he said. “If delegates let this opportunity go there is no future for the party or for the Indian community.”
MIC insiders claim the issue remains Samy Vellu’s reluctance to relinquish his hold on the party. — Picture by Choo Choy May
If Subramaniam’s line-up for the three vice-president’s posts and 23 vacancies in the Central Working Committee (CWC) win, it would also give him control of the party. Winning a majority in the CWC is the key to force changes in the party starting with the ouster of Samy Vellu, who has vowed to stay until 2013 despite entreaties and pressure from the Barisan Nasional to call it a day. According to MIC insiders, his arrogant and divisive leaders, long tenure, the collapse of Maika Holdings, as well as the sacking and expulsion of numerous grassroots leaders have combined to drive the Indian community into the arms of the Pakatan Rakyat. “Subramaniam offers the one chance for change, for renewal and for new hope,” former MIC vice-president and Samy Vellu loyalist Tan Sri G. Pasamanicam said. “We have to give Subramaniam a chance,” he told The Malaysian Insider. “He can unite the party, bring back all the expelled members and regenerate the party as the real representative of the Indian community.” Like Pasamanicam, other veterans are coming out of the woodwork to give their open support to Subramaniam. “The issue is not Subramaniam or Palanivel but Samy Vellu,” said another former vice-president Datuk V. Govinderaj. “The issue is why Samy Vellu is still hanging on after 30 years in power. He is the problem, he is the obstacle… he must go.” “Voting for Samy Vellu’s line-up would only propagate Samy Vellu’s grip on power… he will continue and that’s the end of the MIC,” he said in comments published by the Makkal Osai Tamil daily this week.



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