Malaysian Indian Congress faces post-poll fissures

March 24th, 2008 - 6:11 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 24 (IANS) Serious fissures have surfaced in the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) after the party of two million-plus ethnic Indians suffered a severe setback in this month’s 12th general election. The principal target is the organisation’s long-time president, S. Samy Vellu, who was defeated in his ninth bid at election. Vellu was also the senior-most Indian minister in previous governments.

The MIC, which has been part of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), won only three seats, losing 16 in the national parliament, as also many seats and its vote base in the states.

As Vellu chaired a post-election meeting with Selangor division leaders Sunday, two other division leaders got together and called on him to step down.

Vellu told the meeting that there was need for a change in strategy and work order so as to strengthen the party and attract younger members.

He warned those who “revolt without a cause” that they would be dealt with according to the party constitution.

The meeting with 18 of the 22 division leaders was held at Samy Vellu’s house in Jalan Ipoh.

Fifty MIC branch chairmen in Selangor blamed Vellu for the party’s dismal performance in the general election.

From issues of unemployment and poor university intake of Indians to the failure of the MIC’s investment arm, Maika Holdings, the branch chairmen blamed the party president for its heavy losses.

They also accused Vellu, 72, of not appreciating and respecting loyal grassroots leaders.

As many MIC activists asked the Vellu step down, the latter warned against “rebellion without a cause” and urged unity.

Selangor MIC has 900 branches.

P. Rajendran, a branch chairman, said people told him that if MIC wanted to change, then Vellu must leave, the New Straits Times said Monday.

Another member accused Vellu of only paying lip service to his calls for the younger generation to run the party.

“But until today, a 72-year-old ‘youngster’ is running the party,” he said, drawing laughter.

Those at the meeting were also not in favour of former deputy president S. Subramaniam returning to lead the party.

Subramaniam, one of the survivors of what he calls “political tsunami”, is now the human resource development minister.

Another member, S. Murali, said people do not like Vellu, not in the party.

He accused Samy Vellu of giving posts to his relatives while ignoring the grassroots leaders.

Meanwhile, at a news conference called by MIC’s unit in Seremban, some of the top leaders of the unit stayed away citing personal reasons, The Star reported.

Members of the party’s women’s wing, Wanita MIC, pledged its support for Vellu’s leadership.

Its chief Datin Paduka Komala Krishnamoorthy said after chairing the wing’s national council meeting that Vellu had given women more respect.

She urged the critics who had no confidence in the party and the leadership to leave.

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