Tuesday, July 15, 2008

After Samy Vellu there will be no MIC

Most detractors of MIC or Samy Vellu have grudgingly acknowledge that ‘Samy Vellu is MIC, and MIC is Samy Vellu’. That's mean, once Samy Vellu left the party for retirement, there is likely no suitable or capable candidate to take over the leadership of MIC.

MIC now is in a shamble and headless. It's foundation has been destroyed after the result of the General Election 2008 that resulted in severe loss for their heavy weight. As a result, Indian MPs from MIC representation in the Parliament as well as the Cabinet has been greatly reduced. And Samy Vellu is responsible to this mess.


Extract: Bernama

Who will lead MIC after Samy Vellu?

Departure date set, but answer to this question a mystery

KUALA LUMPUR: Who is set to take over as MIC president from Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu

The answer to this question, as always, continues to be shrouded in mystery. This is despite the man - who helmed the largest Indian-based political party since 1981 - having announced that the recent general election was his last and he would vacate his party position, come 2012.

But, one must remember that this is a man who runs the MIC with an iron fist and brookes no nonsense, causing some detractors to grudgingly acknowledge that ‘Samy Vellu is MIC, and MIC is Samy Vellu’.

Although there are a few potential candidates who can fill in the shoes of the MIC supremo, the absence of a succession “talk” in the party has added to the mystery on who would eventually takeover from Samy Vellu and face the immense task of reviving the party which lost six parliamentary seats and 13 state constituencies in the March 8 general election.

To worsen matters, the former works minister, by his own admission at the party’s 62nd annual general assembly in Putra World Trade Centre on Saturday, revealed that the 630,000-member strong MIC did not have a secession plan but “would leave it to the grassroots to chose their next leader.”

“The grassroots can elect their next leader. There is no such thing as an automatic succession plan in MIC. The grassroots can elect whoever they want,” he said.

His latest remark, according to political observers, is a departure from what he had announced after the party polls in 2006, when he voiced support for his former press secretary Datuk G Palanivel, who beat longtime incumbent deputy president Datuk S Subramaniam to become the party’s number two.

However, Samy Vellu’s most recent stance is likely to open the floodgates for aspiring candidates to vie for the deputy presidency at the party polls next year, knowing very well that the person who wins the race is likely to replace Samy Vellu at the next party elections would be after the planned departure of the MIC supremo.

This, observers say, is likely to lead to more politicking in the MIC, and thus, adding to the “misery” suffered by the party at the recent general election.

“It appears that not only is the party facing a decline in support but also emerging as one of very few Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties void of a succession plan. It reflects very badly on the current leadership,” a party insider, who declined to be named, told Bernama.

Other BN components like MCA and Umno have announced or seem to have a succession plan but this issue was not even raised at the one-day MIC annual general assembly held at the Putra World Trade Centre.

However, the focus of the general assembly was instead, on re-branding the party and its idealogies and the lack of discussion on the succession plan had irked some quarters.

Would Samy Vellu heed the message sent by MIC coalition partners that he should consider early retirement, despite making a stand to hand over power by 2012?

However, the vocal and outspoken ‘Thalaivar’ (leader in Tamil) as Samy Vellu is affectionately known, also threw another mind-boggling statement at the assembly when he said: “I would leave the decision of re-electing me as party president in the next party election, to the 3,600 branch chairmen.

“When there is an election, the question of automatically becoming a president goes off. I don’t think anything can happen without an election,” he said.

These statements by Samy Vellu have added more “confusion” to the already-confused MIC members, as not only was a successor not been identified, but they are not sure if the party chief would vacate his post, come 2012.

His detractors feel that his latest statement was “as rhetoric as before” since it does not have any significant meaning as he is likely to be renominated and win the top post uncontested.

Several grassroots leaders speaking to Bernama, on condition of anonymity, say that it was very unlikely that Samy Vellu would be challenged as “nobody dares to do that”.

“Whoever tries to go for the top leadership, he or she will be chopped off. That is why nobody dares to speak up,” said a leader who repeatedly asked not to be identified.

Some argued that the signal from the grassroots “is very clear that they are not too happy” with Samy Vellu’s decision to stay on until 2012 and that he should soon hand over power to his deputy.

However, when this question was posed to Samy Vellu yesterday, he brushed it aside saying: “If they are unhappy with me, they wouldn’t come for the meeting.”

However, some party leaders are not too concerned about the succession plan or whether Samy Vellu should stay on until 2012.

Seremban branch chairman Datuk M Muthupalaniappan, also a former MIC vice-president, said although succession was important, the priority now should be to strengthen the party through its re-branding exercise.

He believes the MIC can regain its support among the 1.8 million Malaysian Indian community, regardless whether there was a transition plan for the top leadership.

“The assurance by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to help the Indian community, especially in education, will help the MIC. That is more important than who takes over the party.

“Education is the key to success and the country’s progress depends on the people. The step taken by the government will help the Indian community progress on par with the other races,” he said.

Selangor MIC Wanita secretary J Malika believes that with or without transition of leadership, MIC would still regain its strength. She said there were many leaders in the MIC who were capable of helping and developing the community.

“Rebranding comes with new ideas and the leaders now have a clear idea on ways to aid the community. We will leave it to the president to handle it and we believe that he has the capacity and capability to do it,” she added.

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