Malaysian Indian Congress chief ‘under pressure to quit’

Friday, May 7, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR - S. Samy Vellu, long-time chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), is “under pressure” to quit and make way for a younger colleague by the leadership of the ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN), a media report said Friday.

Claiming to speak for Malaysia’s over 1.7 million ethnic Indians, the MIC is a key BN constituent.

Vellu, who has been heading the party since 1979 and was a long-time minister, lost his ninth bid at re-election and the MIC had fared badly in the March 2008 polls.

He is “under pressure from every side” to quit even though the party seems to be reviving as indicated by its nominee’s victory in the prestigious parliamentary by-election for the Hulu Selangor seat last month, The Star newspaper said.

P. Kamalanathan, who won the seat, was however not Vellu’s choice. He was hand-picked by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also the BN chief.

“The outcome of the Hulu Selangor by-election saw Indian voters returning to Barisan Nasional but only because a younger and more proactive candidate was fielded,” the newspaper said.

“With signs of Indian voters returning to Barisan Nasional, the MIC may need to complete its succession plan to ensure the flow is not reversed.

“Pressure from every side is mounting on Vellu to retire sooner and not hang on until his term expires in May 2012,” a senior Barisan leader was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity by the newspaper.

“The Barisan’s top leadership is confident it can sway Indian voters but only with a new man at the helm of the MIC.

“A new leadership and a new era would bring hope to the voters,” the Barisan leader said.

“The Barisan is also changing rapidly and we can’t talk change with the political veterans clinging on. A new era requires a new leadership MIC,” he added.

With the next general election coming soon, Najib needs newer and younger leaders at the helm of the MIC and other Barisan component parties before facing the voters.

Vellu staying on until 2012 will not gel with the Barisan’s plans to prepare for a general election where younger voters numbering over five million will determine victory or defeat for either of the political coalitions, the newspaper said.

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