Vellu in control of MIC: Malaysian analyst

February 22nd, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 22 (IANS) Senior Malaysian Indian politician S. Samy Vellu is in control of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) as it approaches the March 8 general elections as part of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition despite controversy over him retaining the post of party president, an analyst has said. Vellu, 71, who was also the works minister in the outgoing government, introduced 15 new faces among the party nominees as he fought off dissidence within party ranks.

He dropped two MIC vice presidents from the party’s list of candidates last Wednesday even as he announced his ninth bid for a seat in parliament from the Sungai Siput constituency.

In response to media speculation and those who demanded that he quit the long-held party president’s post, Vellu said he would leave it to ethnic Indians, who number an estimated 2.5 million and constitute eight percent of Malaysia’s 27 million population, to decide his fate.

“The hordes of newsmen and supporters, numbering more than 100, had expected tears of joy and cries of disappointment when Vellu announced the list of his party candidates.

“But this time, only the short-listed incumbents and the new candidates were called into the conference room for a briefing before the line-up was presented to the gathered newsmen,” a political analyst wrote in the New Straits Times.

On previous occasions, the announcement would be packed with party supporters who cheer as the names are announced. The supporters would then garland the candidates. This time, the garlands were conspicuously missing, the newspaper said.

The crucial question on the minds of many, especially foreign media representatives, was whether Vellu would contest at Sungai Siput that he has been winning since 1974.

“To this, Vellu firmly said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had approved the MIC list and his candidacy,” the newspaper said.

But Vellu said that this would be his last bid for parliament.

The MIC is fielding 14 new faces - two for parliament and 12 for state seats - from a total of nine parliament and 19 state seats it is contesting.

Officials said the Barisan leadership was quite happy with the list proposed by Vellu.

“I am confident that the Indian community will still back the MIC and Barisan as they are aware of the need for Indian representation in the government,” he said.

Vellu, who had come under pressure from outsiders since the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), had said: “A 100 percent win in the general election could be achieved with some hard work”.

Vellu has been critical of Hindraf, which has courted controversy by staging protest rallies that have been declared illegal.

He also said that the MIC would be reorganised to make it more effective and efficient in meeting the needs and demands of the Indian community, adding that the changing of the leaders was part of a cleaning exercise to make the party more relevant to the Indians.

“The party will change its course to work effectively to resolve the problems facing the community,” Vellu has said.

Vellu said education would continue to be the main thrust of the party this year, with the official opening of the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST), a university owned by the MIC.

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