Must win by-poll, Malaysian PM tells Indian party

Friday, April 16, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak Friday asked the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) to win a prestigious by-election to prove that it was not just a party of ethnic Indians but of all communities - including Malays and Chinese.

MIC must deliver the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat for which the bypoll is scheduled April 25, having got the nomination for the seat again, said Razak, who is currently in the US.

Staking his prestige in the election, the prime minister personally signalled the choice of P. Kamalanathan, MIC’s information chief, rejecting the choice of another candidate by MIC chief, S. Samy Vellu.

Razak heads the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), of which MIC is a major constituent.

Indians form only 19.8 percent of the 65,000 voters in the constituency in Selangor state, much below the majority Malays and the ethnic Chinese. But the MIC, that claims to speak for the 1.7 million ethnic Indians who inhabit Malaysia, has won the seat several times.

“I decided on (P.) Kamalanathan (as the BN candidate) to fulfil the demand of the local voters. This means that the people’s views on a suitable candidate to be MP (is given priority). This is the first consideration because Hulu Selangor is a Barisan constituency. We temporarily loaned it to PKR. The time has come to end the loan and return it to the BN,” Razak said.

PKR - Parti Keadilan Rakyat - of controversial former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, won the seat in 2008, defeating MIC by 198 votes.

“So, we must field a winnable candidate,” Razak told Malaysian journalists in New York Thursday, the official news agency Bernama reported.

Najib said although MIC deputy president G. Palanivel was not selected again as a candidate, he acknowledged Palanivel’s contributions.

Palanivel was the Hulu Selangor MP for four terms starting 1990 before he was defeated by Zainal Abidin Ahmad. Ahmad died of brain cancer March 25, necessitating the byelection.

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