His former loyalist Datuk S. Sothinathan, who has returned to the
fold, is in charge of the nuts and bolts of the campaign.
He also holds the purse-strings, controlling the distribution of
funds to various MIC chairmen.
But it is still unclear if the tried and tested will work this time
in the Hulu Selangor by-election.
Among the older generation of Indian voters these methods are still
likely to be effective but for the younger generation, who live and work
outside the constituency and are exposed to urban angst, the story is
But the MIC knows no other way to win voters except to hand out
goodies and play on their strong ethnic consciousness.
And that is what they are doing in Hulu Selangor but struggling at
that because of the last minute change of candidates from former
in*****bent Datuk G. Palanivel to MIC information chief P. Kamalanathan.
Branches loyal to Palanivel are working at half-pace and only after
they are prodded by Samy Vellu who has brought in every top MIC gun into
the field and divided the Indian areas in the constituency among them.
Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Dr Xavier Jeyakumar is countering MIC attempts
to “lock up” Indian voters with a string of goodies that the Indians had
asked for many years but never got.
One example is the land grant title for the Kuala Kubu Baru Tamil
school which Xavier handed over last week.
But the MIC is raising the question of why the title is only given
now when a by-election is going on and not two years ago when PR came to
“What about all the other 195 Tamil schools in Selangor,” a MIC
campaigner told Indian voters in Kampung Dahlia on Tuesday night.
“The BN is has changed and will take care of such issues if they win.
We are not the same BN.”
But the public reception was clearly not enthusiastic signalling they
appreciate what is in hand and not what is promised.
“We have heard these promises before,” said K. Annamalai, 26, a lorry
driver. “The Pakatan is giving Indians a better deal but it is very
Nevertheless the MIC soldiers on in a haphazard way to corner the
Indian votes while PR Indian leaders are countering with their own
The one difference, says MIC CWC member K. P. Samy, a businessman
from Klang, is that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is making a
difference among Indian voters.
A staunch critic of Samy Vellu, K. P. Samy said long suffering Indian
voters were attracted to Najib’s One Malaysia concept of equality and
justice for all.
“They only want a fair share of the resources. If Najib can translate
the slogan into action he can win over the Indian community,” Samy
“They need urgent help not political slogans from either Pakatan or
Barisan,” he said while campaigning among Indian settlers in the former
Felda Sungei Buaya, the first scheme in Selangor.
An example is former Felda settler A. Gengamah, 79, who lives alone
in a tumbledown, first generation wood and zinc roof Felda house.
She came to the scheme in 1967 as a young mother, worked the rubber
trees and raised a family of seven.
“They all grew up, married and left,” she said adding all of them are
working as menial labourers or are lorry drivers. “One son is a
security guard,” she said.
The MIC is trying to get a new but smaller house for her under the
government’s assistance for hardcore poor.
She has been applying for years and neither BN nor the Pakatan
government had bothered until now.
“There are 109 Indian votes here,” she said.
The MIC has promised to get her the assisted house but there is a
caveat — she has to vote and ask all her children to return to vote.
“They will return and vote if I asked them. They will do it for me,”
Gengamah said.”But who will they vote?”
MIC boss: We've the better man
By RK Anand
KUALA KUBU BARU: The
duel has been likened to that between David and Goliath, since the
generals saw it fit to thrust a greenhorn onto the battlefied to slump a
Biblical analogies aside, P Kamalanathan might appear taller than his
opponent, but Zaid Ibrahim's credentials and experience are towering.
David who was only armed with a slingshot, the MIC information chief is
backed by a well-oiled war machine, but it does not make the task of
slaying a renowned former minister and MP any less arduous.
when FMT caught up with one of the generals, he expressed unwavering
confidence in Kamalanathan's ability to emerge victorious in the battle
of Hulu Selangor.
As far as MIC president S Samy Vellu is
concerned, Barisan Nasional has the “better” candidate, whose profiency
in Bahasa Malaysia provides him an added advantage in the Malay-majority
“He is a young man, a capable man and is very good in
Bahasa. Above all, he is a simple man who would go down to the
grassroots to work,” he said during the exclusive interview.
44-year-old Kamalanathan, whose expertise is public relations, is known
for his down-to-earth demeanour and people skills. Lacking in the art of human relations
on the other hand, said Samy Vellu, is not exactly a sociable
“I was in Parliament for so many years, he (Zaid) was
the MP for Kota Baru. He doesn't speak to anybody easily. He is very
“When a man is so reserved, how can he get nearer to
the people? Politics is about being near to the people and to be kind
and caring towards them,” said the former MP and works minister.
Vellu confessed that he never had a conversation or any other form of
communication with Zaid before, apart from one episode where they
acknowledged each other with a wave of the hand.
“I have never
spoken to him even once,” he said.
The MIC president explained
that he was not ridiculing Zaid, but merely stating the fact that the
art of human relations is a prerequisite in politics.
this meant that Zaid's “high profile” would not have an impact on the
voters, Samy Vellu said he does not believe so, while former MIC
vice-president S Sothinathan, who was also present, quipped: “High
profile, but cannot reach down to the low-profile people.”It will be a close fight
Meanwhile, Samy Vellu chose to reserve his
comments regarding the character assassination of Zaid in the on-going
campaign, where his rivals have branded the PKR candidate as an
alcoholic and gambler.
“It is better that I don't say anything about this. It is better that
I don't know... I wouldn't want to comment on this,” he said.
the MIC president predicted a close fight between the two candidates,
with the odds favouring Kamalanathan.
“The chances are good
because the Umno machinery is very strong. The BN and MIC machineries
are also working very hard to ensure a win,” he said.
pausing for a moment, Samy Vellu added: “MCA is also doing something.
But they are very silent, we don't know.”I
am a man of peace
The veteran politician
also dismissed talk of potential protest votes or sabotage by
disgruntled MIC factions with regard to the candidate.
was the eleventh-hour choice after the BN leadership rejected MIC
deputy president G Palanivel, a four-term MP for Hulu Selangor prior to
his defeat in the 2008 general election.
His supporters are said
to be seething in anger, and plotting revenge.
seeing red, is the one aligned to Hulu Selangor MIC Youth chief V
Mugilan, who was Umno's preferred choice, but shot down by Samy Vellu.
to Samy Vellu, Palanivel is on the campaign trail in support of
Kamalanathan while peace has also been made with Mugilan.
already spoken to Mugilan, and we have drawn up a plan. All his boys
will be called to come to the Kerling estate, where we will be having
our 1,000 youths dinner.
“Being president, I have to be fair to
everybody. When you quarrel with people, you end up worrying for a long
time. When you settle the issue, you become a man of peace, I am a man
of peace,” he said.
Samy Vellu also rubbished claims that certain
forces in Umno want to see MIC defeated so that Umno can take over the
seat in the next general election.
He said a victory in Hulu
Selangor is also crucial for Umno, whose president is bent on
recapturing the Selangor state from Pakatan Rakyat in the next general
election.Plight of the poor Indians
another issue, Samy Vellu expressed sadness over the living conditions
of Indian Malaysians in the estates in Hulu Selangor.
“One of the
things I have noticed since I have been working here (on the ground) is
that some of the estate owners don't care about their workers. There
are no proper roads or water supply.
“After coming here, I really
felt I am not in Malaysia, I thought I was in some country under
colonial rule,” he said, adding that the situation in the estates was
better during the British rule.
Samy Vellu said while the estate
communities had voted against the BN in 2008, they however have come to
the realisation that “temporary emotions cannot safeguard their
He added that now the federal government is serious
about looking after their welfare in terms of healthcare, unemployment
and the issuance of identity cards.
In view of this, the MIC
president said those in the estates are more receptive of BN.Like husband
Taking a swipe at Pakatan
Rakyat, Samy Vellu said the opposition coalition is very kind towards
Indian voters during elections.
“This period of kindness will be
for a few days, where they will visit houses and give bus fare and
tuition fees for the schoolchildren under the pretext of the Selangor
“If the Selangor government is so kind, it should
give such aid to all the citizens in the state and not only in the
by-election area. These are attractive sweeteners.
“What does BN
do? It upgrades the living standards of these people. Where there is no
water, it brings water, where there are no roads, it builds roads,” he
Samy Vellu said the living conditions of poor
Indians have not changed under the Pakatan rule.
“They may be
happy during by-elections, but after that, the promises are forgotten,”
he said, citing the Kampung Buah Pala incident in the Pakatan-governed
state of Penang.
“When (Opposition Leader) Anwar Ibrahim went
there to speak (during the 2008 election campaign), he said, 'Kalau kita
memerintah negeri ini, dua minggu sahaja, masalah ini sudah selesai.
Tanah ini awak punya'.
“But they didn't do anything,” he said in
referrence to the demolition of the antiquated Indian settlement to
pave the way for commercial development.
Conceding that it is not
easy for the state government to do certain things, Samy Vellu however
said it should refrain from “dramatising” issues.
out that the federal government does not cooperate with the
opposition-controlled state governments, the MIC president replied:
“This is like a husband and wife relationship: the husband always blames
the wife, the wife always blames the husband.”
development, Samy Vellu refused to comment on the news report that a
consortium is planning to purchase the investments of shareholders in
MIC's debt-ridden financial arm, Maika Holdings.
The MIC leader said he has been instructed not to say anything
further on this matter for now.
Some have dismissed the issue as an election gimmick since there are
1,500 Maika shareholders in Hulu Selangor.