Malaysian Indian Congress veteran to take on party chief

November 11th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 11 (IANS) A former vice president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) says he is ready to challenge party chief S. Samy Vellu for the top job, but admits that fear of expulsion may dissuade members from giving him the required 50 nominations to be able to contest.M. Muthupalaniappan claims that he has been approached by members to challenge the former works minister and long time party chief, but he is yet to decide.

“I am seeking the blessings of party veterans before deciding on whether to take on the party supremo,” he told The New Straits Times.

“In the interests of the MIC, Barisan Nasional and the Indian community, there must a change of leadership in the party,” he added.

Muthupalaniappan, who lost in his bid for a party vice-presidency last year, acknowledged the fact that getting the minimum amount of nominations to qualify to contest may prove difficult.

“There is this fear among branches of being victimised by the president later for nominating someone other than him for the post,” he said.

To challenge the president, one needs at least 50 nominations from branches with six office-bearers proposing and seconding the candidate.

In the MIC, the presidential election is held at least three months ahead of elections for other posts with branch office-bearers responsible for nominations.

The MIC will hold its presidential election in March next year, while elections for all other top posts including those on the central working committee (CWC) will be held six months later.

Vellu has become increasingly unpopular in the MIC, which has traditionally spoken for Malaysia’s estimated 2.6 million Indians, most of them Tamils who came here during the British era.

Vellu was trounced in his ninth bid at re-election to parliament in March and MIC’s strength was reduced from 16 to three.

According to a post-poll survey, some 68 percent ethnic Indians voted against the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) of which MIC is a major constituent.

Vellu has fended off demands that he own up his failure and quit and has embarked on what he calls “re-branding” of the MIC among the Malaysian Indians.

In 1989, Vellu faced the toughest battle of his political life so far when he faced eight challengers for his post. Earlier this year, former Klang division chief Alex Thiagarasan challenged Vellu for the post but was expelled for criticising him.

MIC Information chief M. Saravanan said no one could defeat Vellu as he was well liked by members.

“Moreover, I don’t see any leader who can match him in terms of hard work and commitment at this point of time,” he said.

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