Malaysian Indian Congress chief likely to get walkover

March 16th, 2009 - 12:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, March 16 (IANS) Malaysian Indian Congress’ long-time president S. Samy Vellu may get a walkover in next month’s election for the top party post as his lone rival was unlikely to get the minimum votes required to file nomination papers.
Vellu’s grip on the party’s apparatus remains total, media reports said Monday.

“It looks like a foregone conclusion, a week before nominations close for the MIC presidential race,” The Star said.

Vellu is tipped to retain the post for the 11th term without a contest as his only challenger, former MIC vice-president M. Muthupalaniappan, looks unlikely to garner nominations from 300 branch chairmen.

“Party officials are upbeat that Samy Vellu would come away unscathed from the nomination this Sunday,” the newspaper said.

MIC, which speaks for Malaysia’s two million-plus ethnic Indians, is a constituent of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) with representation in the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi.

A long-time minister, Vellu lost his ninth bid to re-enter parliament in March last year.

Despite the defeat, internal dissensions and demands that he quit, Vellu has retained control of the party.

Dissenters and critics are blacklisted or expelled on grounds of indiscipline. Under the party constitution, a presidential aspirant needs 300 nominations, with each nomination needing a proposer and five seconders, to be eligible to contest. All proposers and seconders must be branch chairmen.

The MIC president will be picked by the 22 committee members of each of the 3,700 branches nationwide.

The party has fixed Sunday for the nominations and April 12 for the polling. Samy Vellu, who turned 73 March 8, became president in October 1979 following the death of then president V. Manickavasagam.

Official news agency Bernama reported that Muthupalaniappan, the lone challenger, had claimed that there were concerted efforts by some party leaders to ensure he did not get enough nominations to contest for the top post.

“I am facing an uphill task. Even obtaining nomination forms is a huge task, what more asking branch leaders to sign it. The branch chairmen are scared.

“Even in the event of a contest, I am sure there are more tricks up the sleeves of some leaders to ensure Samy Vellu wins comfortably,” he said.

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