Two MIC New Faces Undergo Baptism Of Fire
Date: Saturday, March 01 @ 07:04:14 CST
Topic: MIC

By S. Retnanathan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 (Bernama) -- MIC's two new faces fielded in parliamentary seats are undergoing "baptism of fire" as campaigning enters the second phase.

They are businessman Datuk M. Saravanan, 40, making his debut for the Tapah seat, and lawyer S. Murugesan, 40, a newcomer to the urban Subang seat.

Saravanan, who is MIC information chief, takes over from Datuk S. Veerasingham, who returns to his former Sungkai state seat, while Murugesan, a member of the powerful central working committee, succeeds party vice-president Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar.

Veerasingham, also a vice-president, and Nijhar, were dropped to fulfil the promise by MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu to the Indian community to infuse new blood in the party line-up to appease Indians as to the relevance of the party to represent the community.

The MIC, allocated with nine parliamentary and 19 state seats, had also made changes in 13 state seats in efforts to rejuvenate and bring the party closer to the 1.8 million Indians in the country.

Saravanan told Bernama although the people's support for the BN candidate in Tapah was "excellent", the constituency needs more development to stay on par with other major towns, such as Ipoh.

"No doubt the in*****bent (Veerasingham) has done great job, but we still need to do more to bring in more development. I don't want Tapah to lag behind in development," he said.

He said though his experience as a two-term senator had come in handy when meeting the people, "this experience is still new to me".

"This is a valuable experience I will not forget for the rest of my life. I was campaigning in a Malay village when a villager invited me for lunch, but since I was already late for another appointment, I politely declined the invitation.

"I did not expect her to get upset when I declined to have lunch in her house. It was like a mother asking the son to eat. In order not to offend a mother, I joined the family for was a heart-warming situation," he said.

Saravanan, who is also Federal Territories MIC chief, said he did not face any problems during his campaign rounds in the suburban constituency, but was surprised he did not receive any request for financial allocations from the villagers whom he had visited.

"I don't think I will face problems to retain the seat for BN. While all these are humbling experiences, I'm enjoying it. I want to serve these people," he said.

In the 2004 general election, Veerasingham retained the Tapah seat, with some 38,000 voters, beating a PAS contestant by a comfortable 9,586-vote majority.

In this election, Saravanan is locking horns with Tan Seng Toh of Parti Keadilan Rakyat in a straight fight.

Meanwhile, Murugesan, is working very hard, moving from one housing estate to another to cover as much ground as possible in this huge constituency of 68,000 electorate.

"I've covered almost all the areas in Subang and the feedback has been very good," he said.

Murugesan, better known as "Muru" in MIC circles, said being a young candidate had its advantages as the people in this seat are expecting "new ideas and new methods" in addressing issues and problems.

"But I must thank Tan Sri Nijhar who has done a good job here. I am well received wherever I went in Subang. People welcome me and I know they are sincere," he said.

Being a first-timer, it is sometimes "overwhelming" when meeting the voters who go out of their way to make "me feel comfortable."

The Shah Alam MIC youth chief does not foresee problems in retaining the seat for BN.

"I've received one or two complaints and I've promised to solve the issues...otherwise things look good. I don't forsee any problems.

In the last election, Nijhar won the Subang seat with a whopping 15,460-vote majority, beating a PKR candidate.

In this election, Murugesan is facing another PKR candidate, R. Sivarasa, for the seat, which has about 84,000 voters.


Buntong's Indians play kingmakers B Mahendran | Mar 1, 08 2:20pm Buntong in Perak is unique - this constituency has the distinction of having the highest proportion of Indian voters in the country, about 46 percent of its 21,930 electorate.

And the grassroots sentiments among the Indian community this time around makes the electoral contest in this state seat an interesting one to watch.

Feelings on the ground is filled with Hindraf sentiment, with claims of Indian marginalisation is well alive in every corner of Buntong. Dissatisfaction towards the ruling BN and Umno has now been turned into hatred towards the MIC and its chief, S Samy Vellu.

Just few weeks ago, a group of youths threw eggs at both MIC Perak chief G Rajoo and Perak Mentri Besar Tajol Rosli Ghazali at a function here. While both the politicians deny being hit, eyewitnesses said at least one egg hit the MIC man.

It is this anger that the DAP is trying to turn into its favour to capture this state seat from MCA, and the opposition party’s task is made easier with in*****bent Yik Phooi Hong moving onto the Ipoh Barat parliament seat.

DAP’s A Sivasubramaniam will be trying to win the seat at his second attempt on March 8, against the ruling party’s Lee Tung Lai (BN). In 2004, he lost to Yik, known as the ‘Buntong Tiger’ by 2,382-vote majority.

On Wednesday night, DAP big guns Lim Kit Siang (in*****bent at neighbouring Ipoh Timur parliamentary seat) and Kulasegaran (in*****bent at Ipoh Barat) gave a ceramah in Buntong, easily attracting 1,000 people, mostly Indians.

Shouts of 'Makkal Sakthi' (people's power) filled the air and every time the ceramah touched on Indian issues, large sections of the crowd nod, agreeing with the familiarity of such cases.

MIC’s problems

But this does not mean MIC has given up on the Indian voters in Buntong.

The MIC machinery is going all out to woo back the Indian voters, a task which the party says can be done although it is difficult.

"This service centre (Yik's Buntong office) is open every Thursday, for the past 15 years," said party volunteer M Raju (right). The ex-national athlete said the ground sentiment was changing slowly in favour of the ruling party.

"Give us time and we can prove ourselves," he added.

However Raju admitted that all was not well, especially within the MIC. He took a swipe at several MIC leaders whom he claimed to have under performed.

He also claimed that while many Indians were not happy with the MIC, blaming the government would only spell disaster to the poor underclass people.

"Some MIC leaders are not doing anything, that is why people hate MIC... the opposition on the other hand, is simply making use of the Hindraf issue."

These sentiments were shared by MIC Perak Youth head, S Jayagobi.

"They (DAP) hijacked the whole episode. Hindraf did create political awakening, which was good. "But the opposition poisoned the rakyat to hate MIC and Samy Vellu," he said.

Empy meetings

Departing in*****bent Yik (right) however expressed his confidence that the Indian voters would back the BN on the polling day.

In his campaign runs on behalf of Lee, he has been assured of the Malay votes (a measly 6.29 percent). The Chinese voters however, standing at 46.17 percent, are equally split between the two candidates, making the Indian voters to be in a unique position of being ‘kingmakers’.

Observers here also noted that only those under the age of 40 will vote against the BN as these were the people that were heavily influenced by Hindraf. Furthermore, they added, many youths in their early 20s - and against the BN - were still not registered as voters.

"We are retired civil servants. Of course, we will support the ‘dacing’ (the BN symbol)," said local resident A Sivabalan.

New-face Lee, still unknown to many, is counting on the popularity of his predecessor and the good track record of his party MCA to win the election. Yik was the state representative for three terms and commanded high respect from the local voters. He has captured the hearts of the Indians here with his little command of the Tamil language.

However despite his popularity and his confidence, Indian turnouts for BN election functions are poor.

A party campaign on Thursday evening reflected the difficulty the MIC and the BN are facing in convincing the community. Organised by various MIC branches, the event was attended by barely 40 people, all branch leaders. (above)

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