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Malaysia 101: MIC Former President Samy Vellu (1936 – 2022) & Unresolved Case of MAIKA

samy vellu snippet

One cannot forget the many funny quotes uttered by the late Tun Samy Vellu who was the minister under Dr M’s cabinet handling 2 main portfolios covering public works, energy, telecommunication and post and who was also the long-serving president of the Malaysian India Congress (MIC). Image source: Wikipedia

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News of Death

I still remember the year 2008 when the unthinkable happened – Samy Vellu lost his MP seat in his Sungai Siput parliamentary which he had held since 1974. The parliamentary seat was held by the previous MIC president, V. T. Sambanthan from 1959 to 1974 (and acting Prime Minister for 10 days) so it was a safe bet that no matter what happens, Samy Vellu will surely win again.

But then the voters in Sungai Siput finally saw the nonsense that has happened on the outside and voted for the very hardworking Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj who had contested on Pakatan’s ticket. My uncle threw a big celebration party upon hearing that Samy Vellu had lost in the elections.

Former MIC president and long-time minister Tun S. Samy Vellu died this morning. He was 86.

Samy Vellu is understood to have died in his sleep.

Local news website Astro Awani reported MIC vice-president Datuk T. Mohan saying Samy Vellu died at his home in Jalan Ipoh here.

Samy Vellu was the seventh MIC president and also the ethnic Indian party’s longest-serving, holding the position for 31 years. He was Sungai Siput MP from September 1974 to March 2008 and among the longest-serving ministers lasting 29 years. He served as works minister from June 1983 to June 1989, and held that post again from May 1995 to March 2008.

He also held the ministerial portfolios for energy and telecommunications from June 1989 to May 1995, as well as works and public amenities from September 1979 to June 1983. In his Facebook post, Dr Subramaniam described Samy Vellu as “the ultimate mentor”.

“His contribution to the nation and to the Indian Community will be permanently etched in our memories.

(Source: Malay Mail)

Just how much Samy Vellu and MIC had contributed to the Indian community is yet to be determined especially after Hindraf’s rallies showed their shortcomings. For most Indians, his death did not mark the end of MAIKA’s affairs as most of them did not get back their investments. And those who mismanaged the investors’ funds were never brought to face their accountability.

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One of the factors that caused the state of Selangor to shift hands from BN to Pakatan is the demolition of Hindu temples which is a very sensitive issue for the Indian community in the country. In Selangor particular, there were plenty of temples which were not properly organised and it found itself fighting for the same space as modern development due to the existence of rubber estates which have their own temples. 

MIC’s Two Ministers

Before Pakatan Harapan stole the show in 2018, the Prime Minister candidate had always come from UMNO political party and his cabinet is made of key politicians from UMNO and BN’s other component political parties. This includes MIC who usually will get one full Ministerial post and 2 deputy Ministerial posts although things have drastically changed since 2018.

MIC had two ministers in the cabinet until the death of Athinahapan (then deputy president of MIC) in 1977.

When Samy Vellu became the MIC president in 1979, the Indian community had great hopes that he would demand and get back the two ministers post for MIC.

But he failed and carried on like as if he was fully content with himself being the only MIC minister in the cabinet until he lost his MP’s seat in the 2008 general elections.

(Source: Malaysiakini)

Samy Vellu remained the only full Minister under 3 different Prime Ministers, the majority of the time was under Dr Mahathir.

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MIC is weak due to Samy Vellu so says Dr Mahathir who had picked Samy Vellu to be one of his ministers in his cabinet for a very long time. Despite this fact and knowing that a weak MIC will not benefit the Indian community that it represents, then why still keep Samy Vellu in the cabinet?  

Highway OSA

This was a major issue that the Opposition raised when the Government decided to allow highway operators to increase the toll charges (some increased more than double the original charges) and there was a call to review the highway concessionaire agreements.

Malaysians are shocked by Samy’s written reply to Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang yesterday that the Government has decided that it is not appropriate for all highway concessionaire agreements to be made public.

This contradicts Samy’s promise on 18 February 2007 that the agreement between the Government and highway concessionaires would be revealed as the Prime Minister had agreed in principle to make the documents public.

It is completely illogical for Samy to explain now that all concessionaire agreements were part of the Government’s secret documents and came under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Why use the OSA now as a shield when it is only secret now but not such a state a secret in February this year that the government was willing to declassify it?

Samy is also lying that the government may be sued by highway companies as these documents contain a confidentiality clause whereby consent has to be first obtained from a concessionaire company before the agreement can be made public.

If there is such a confidentiality clause, then it is clear that the concessionaire companies should be taken action under the contract and charged under the OSA because they had revealed such information years ago when submitting their prospectus for listing.

(Source: DAP Malaysia)

Placing the highway concessionaire agreements under OSA means it cannot be reviewed by the opposition and common citizens and this basically increased the suspicion that these agreements were lopsided and not in the best interest of the people.

Final Say

One has to say that it is a missed opportunity for the Indian community when MIC was a major force to reckon with in the Government. Now with the demise of Samy Vellu and the absence of the Indian community support for MIC, one has to wonder how MIC will be able to reinvent itself for a progressive Malaysia and above the constraints of racial barriers.

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