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MIC Elections 2009: Fears of split if Samy Velluís men get elected

Contributed by Anonymous on Friday, September 11 @ 21:22:13 CDT

Straits Times, Sept 12 – The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) will today hold one of its most exciting party elections, with a fierce three-cornered fight for the No. 2 post. Eight candidates will vie for three No. 3 posts in the other fight. In the contest for these top posts, MIC president S. Samy Vellu named his own “official candidates”.

“We have put the machinery in place and we need experienced and qualified drivers with perseverance. I have to see a responsible leader heading the party before I leave,” said Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, 72, who was returned unopposed as party president when nominations for the post closed in March. But if his candidates get elected, there are fears that it will distance the party even further from the Indian community. It will also not look good for the party in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, as Prime Minister Najib Razak has sent clear signals that he does not want to see Samy Vellu and his associates continue to helm the party. It would be difficult for the party to reform if his men win, as the new leaders can be expected to continue taking instructions from him even after he retires in 2012. “If Samy Vellu is still the MIC president (and his men win), there is no hope for the party,” said MIC member R.K. Sundram. As the other BN component parties embark on reforms to strengthen the coalition, the Indian party will be left behind and eventually become irrelevant. Another difficulty for the party will be in winning back Indian support as more Indian parties have emerged since last year’s general election. This year alone, two new Indian parties have branched out from the Hindu Rights Action Force. Even former premier Mahathir Mohamad is blaming Samy Vellu for MIC’s loss of Indian support. “If the Indian community want to progress and go forward, they should remove Samy Vellu,” Tun Mahathir said. But Samy Vellu appears determined to take one last political gamble before he steps down. “It’s do or die,” he told local media in an interview. He wants his candidates to win, and is backing in*****bent deputy president G. Palanivel, 60. Datuk Palanivel is challenged by Samy Vellu’s detractor S. Subramaniam, 65, and his former supporter S. Sothinathan, 49. Datuk Subramaniam was the party’s deputy president for 27 years until he lost the post to Palaniviel in 2006. Many party members have noticed the several occasions when Datuk Seri Najib chose to bypass Samy Vellu when dealing with Indian community issues. The Prime Minister chose to talk to the Human Resources Minister, Dr S. Subramaniam, the MIC’s only representative in the Cabinet, following the Aug 28 protest by Malay residents over the relocation of a Hindu temple. He also made a visit to the famous Batu Caves without Samy Vellu, a sign of souring ties between the two leaders. The party clearly needs new blood to boost its image. “MIC has lost its mandate, even in BN itself, so we need a whole new leadership,” said Sundram, a loyal supporter of Subramaniam. Samy Vellu’s supporters may admit the MIC has lost the respect of other BN component parties, but they believe that the party still has Najib’s support. They say it is now up to them to deliver, but without a smooth transition of power and Samy Vellu’s men to take over, the MIC will not move forward. “There will be infighting and the party will head for a split if Palanivel fails to retain his seat,” said MIC Putera chief P. Kamala. – The Straits Times ********** 

The Star aturday September 12, 2009 D-Day for the MIC By BARADAN KUPPUSAMY

The run-up to the MIC elections saw some of the most heated campaigning ever in the party’s 63-year-old history with candidates going all out to woo the 1,460 delegates who will decide the outcome today. The unusual exuberance has come about because the contestants see in this election an opportunity to fill a huge political vacuum in time to come. They want to win a party post and position themselves to grab the opportunities that are opening up in the MIC that faces a major leadership change in the not-too-distant future. The pressure to win is great because they see a future for the MIC both in the BN coalition and in national politics. By contesting and winning now they stand a chance to be selected as candidates to contest in the next general election and possibly hold government posts. The polls today is a watershed event after party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who had dominated the MIC since becoming president in 1979, announced last month that his current term as president which expires in 2012 would be his last. While he has indicated he might retire earlier than 2012, he has not set a firm date. His supporters in the MIC, and there are many, say he should be allowed to choose his departure date without pressure between now and 2012. But his critics, in and outside the MIC, demand that he leave soon after today’s election so that a new leadership can take over and revive the party’s fortunes. Despite the criticism, Samy Vellu has fielded an “official” line-up of candidates for all the positions – deputy president, three vice-president and 23 posts in the Central Working Committee – saying this line up would work with him to rejuvenate the MIC. His line-up is being challenged by a team fielded by his arch rival and former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam who is contesting under a “change for the better” theme. The focus of the battle is on the three- cornered battle for the deputy presidency between in*****bent Datuk G. Palanivel, 60, Subramaniam, 65, and former vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan, 49, who is also promising “change” if he wins. The winner of the contest is set to inherit the MIC from Samy Vellu when he retires. Samy Vellu has chosen Palanivel as his successor but it is up to the delegates to accept or reject his choice. Both Subramaniam and Sothinathan are offering themselves as the more suitable successor saying the party needs radical change which cannot be carried out with Samy Vellu running the MIC. These are the key issues before the delegates who are arriving from across the country to PWTC for the annual general assembly to be officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Voting starts after the opening ceremony and results are expected at about 8pm. The outcome of the fight for the deputy president’s post is hard to call, MIC insiders said, adding that various internal and external forces have converged to give Subramaniam a helping hand, including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has urged delegates to pick “good leaders”. Dr Mahathir also described Samy Vellu as “destructive” and cited him as the reason why Indians voted for the opposition in 2008. Without doubt his and other views will have an impact on the delegates as they weigh the options before them. On one hand their party president is urging them to back the “official” line-up but on the other they are acutely aware he has lost the support of the political establishment. Nonetheless, Samy Vellu is still in control of the MIC despite his defeat in Sungei Siput in the 2008 general election and the loss of the ministerial post and despite intense calls for him to retire. With a new mood for change sweeping through the party, Subramaniam and his team have a better chance at the hustings than in 2006 when their team was wiped out. If they do well it would show that Samy Vellu’s grip is slackening and with that, the pace of change in the MIC would quicken. Barisan Nasional is anxious that the MIC, the third member of the pre-independent Umno, MCA triumvirate, quickly embrace change, reinvent and strengthen itself in time for the next general election. The MIC’s task is set out – embrace change, elect new leaders, reinvent and win back the loyalty of the Indian community that fled to Pakatan Rakyat in disgust. Although numerous new Indian-based political parties have set up shop post-2008, their success is limited. None have developed the reach and infrastructure that is enjoyed by the MIC. Their eventual effectiveness is already doubted, leaving the Barisan to once again place its hopes on a rejuvenated MIC led by a new set of leaders. The MIC elections today must be seen in this contest of inevitable change that is sweeping though the country. This election is a watershed event for both the MIC and the Indian community and by extension, for Barisan. The outcome is expected to be mixed with winners and losers in both Subramaniam’s and Samy Vellu’s camps. ******



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