Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Samy Vellu bows out of politics

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC leaders yesterday bade an emotional farewell to the man who has been their father and the law, the rambunctious leader who even ordered a dress code for the Central Working Committee members.

"He has scolded me over the phone for my mistakes, that's the nature of the tutelage. Now he is going with his head held high," P. Kamalanathan, 44, the newest MIC parliamentarian, summed up the mood after a CWC meeting, which observed the much anticipated transition of power.

At yesterday's meeting, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu listened to his charges for a change. Second-echelon MIC leaders took turns in the CWC, which lasted almost four hours, to honour the 74-year-old leader who has for decades slogged for the Indian community, at times, prodding and chastising them.


The Samy Vellu-Kamalanathan relationship perhaps best characterised his leadership style. Kamalanathan was not Samy Vellu's first choice in the April 25 Hulu Selangor by-election.

Yet, the moment it was decided that the information chief would be fielded, the former works minister worked all out to support Kamalanathan's candidacy.

The tone at the final CWC meeting chaired by the MIC supremo was one of reconciliation.


Former MIC Youth chief S. Vickneswaran, who had a fall-out with Samy Vellu after the 2008 general election, was reinstated as a full-fledged party member.

Party secretary-general, Datuk T. Rajagopalu, confirmed the reinstatement.

Vickeneswaran had nothing but praise for his former party boss.


"It is magnanimous of Datuk Seri Samy Vellu to approve and take me back into the party fold," he said.

The other fact that struck observers was the smooth transition of power, which earned praise.

Changes in a political party can be a wrenching affair.

The need for smooth transition is something that Samy Vellu knows well enough.

When he took over the party in 1979 after the death of its sixth president, Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, Samy Vellu was acting president until 1981, when he contested and won the top post for the first time.

Since then until now, the longest serving MIC and Barisan Nasional component party leader had faced many challenges to his leadership, which, in turn, had left the party in turmoil but it eventually bounced back.

Permas state assemblyman and CWC member M.M. Samy said the leadership change was an event many had looked forward to.

"It is an emotionally charged transition of power and more so now when there is a need for greater unity among party members.

Incoming MIC chief and Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk G. Palanivel was probably the happiest about the trouble-free transition.

"I thank the party president for ensuring a smooth transfer of power," was among the first things the 61-year-old said.

Having been at the helm of the party for the past 31 years, Samy Vellu was only glad to pass on the torch to his protege.

"I am happy that I am leaving the party to Palanivel. I have had a clear head over the last 10 days. I felt that there should be a leadership change in the party and I was ready for this.

"Life has not ended yet. I will continue serving the community in my own way," he added.

When asked what were his achievements, Samy Vellu said he would like to be remembered as someone who had brought about a mind-set change in the community with regards to the importance and need for an education.

Under his stewardship, MIC established the Maju Institute of Educational development (MIED) in 1985 to promote higher education.

In addition, the TAFE College was established in Seremban to provide further and technical education as well as the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology.

"I have slogged all this while to ensure that Indians understand that education is vital for growth."

Many would want to take it easy and rest on their laurels.

It is unlikely that the man who ruled MIC for the past three decades will sit idly.

As the chairman of MIED, he will continue to contribute to the Indian community's educational well-being.

"I will be moving very fast after this, but in planes, as I would be travelling quite a bit," he said, chuckling and hinting about future activities.

There is speculation that he had been appointed as an ambassador in charge of obtaining infrastructure projects for Malaysian contractors in South Asian countries.

Samy Vellu chose not dwell on it and said that any announcement should come from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"I am not new to the task anyway. I have been doing the job for years."

If fate had taken a different path, and politics was not his love, then Samy Vellu said that he would have pursued his career as a chartered architect.

If he had done so then Malaysian politics and the country would have been poorer, for the MIC president is known to speak his mind, use of colourful language and his many a famous quotes.

*Taken from NST Online.
**For Samy Vellu biodata, click here.

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