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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 30th January 2008:

Would Samy Vellu be dropped as a Barisan Nasional candidate in the next general election?

Would Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu be dropped as a Barisan Nasional candidate in the next general election?

This question does not sound so far-fetched and unthinkable now as the query which I posed a fortnight ago as to whether Samy Vellu would back out of contest in Sungai Siput in the next general election during my two-day 14-place “whistle stop” campaign in Perak to highlight the DAP national general election theme of “Good Cops, Safe Malaysia”.

I had said on 12th January that Samy Vellu had become the lightning rod of the long-suppressed anger and frustration of the Malaysian Indians over their long-standing political, economic, educational, social, cultural and religious marginalization in the country and the very personification to the Malaysian Indian community of everything that is wrong and unfair about Barisan Nasional policies in the past three decades which have reduced them into the new underclass in Malaysia.

I said:

“If Samy Vellu re-contests in Sungai Siput in the next general election expected within 65 days, again leading the MIC election campaign, MIC parliamentary and state assembly candidates throughout the country will face massive rejection by the Malaysian Indian voters.

“Are MIC leaders trying to find a way to convey and convince Samy Vellu that the best service he can do to the MIC after being the MIC President and sole Malaysian Indian Minister for close to three decades is for him to fully absorb the anger and frustration of the Malaysian Indians at the MIC failure to check the marginalization of the Malaysian Indians by accepting full personal responsibility and not contesting in the next general election – thus saving the MIC slate of parliamentary and state assembly candidates from the full wrath of the Indian community in the polls?”

Undoubtedly, my statement a fortnight ago struck a chord in the MIC and there were moves behind-the-scene to prepare for an alternative leadership – which has angered Samy Vellu resulting in the reported sidelining of the MIC leaders concerned.

However, things are moving very fast in the Malaysian political scene with Parliament expected to be dissolved in the next one month – with the political fate of Samy Vellu moving one notch further, from whether he could be persuaded to step down as MIC President and withdraw as MIC parliamentary candidate in the next general election to whether he would be dropped as a Barisan Nasional candidate in the next general election.

The political weather is getting cold and wintry for Samy Vellu, not only among the Malaysian Indians since the watershed Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 25 last year, but also in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

This was why Samy Vellu’s answer to my question a fortnight ago, announcing that he would definitely be contesting for the ninth time in Sungai Siput in the next general election, was received with such flak and hostility from UMNO.

Leading the attack on Samy Vellu was the UMNO media, Utusan Malaysia, after carrying the front-page headline lead “‘Saya mesti bertanding’ – Kepala tidak ada mana boleh badan ada lagi – Samy Vellu” on Monday (28.1.08)

On the same day, Utusan Malaysia gave double swipe at Samy Vellu with a front-page cartoon “SENYUM KAMBING” and a critical column by Awang Selamat in “Bisik Bisik”.

The front-page cartoon carried the dialogue:

“Samy kata beliau mesti bertanding pilihan raya.”

“Jangan terlalu yakin.”

In the Bisik Bisik column, Awang Selamat said no doubt it was a practice in Barisan Nasional that component party leaders contest in the elections, but questioned if it was appropriate for the MIC president to make a brazen remark in such a tone.

The columnist said nevertheless “knowing Samy Vellu’s style,” the leader’s comments did not really come as a surprise.

“But ‘political talk’ concerning Samy Vellu was really hot last year. The issue now is when will there be a transition of power in MIC,” asked the columnist.

He pointed out that UMNO, MCA and Gerakan have all seen the passing of the baton, but there were no such sign in MIC.

The broad hints that it is time for Samy to leave the political scene were spelt out the next day when Utusan Malaysia reported criticisms from the UMNO Puteri leader, Datuk Noraini Ahmad, the Pahang UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Khairuddin Yaakob and even the UMNO National Vice President Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam – indicating whether Samy Vellu can continue as MIC President and be a candidate for the ninth time in Sungai Siput may no longer be in the hands of MIC or MIC President and will have to be decided by UMNO.

This is because Samy Vellu is increasingly regarded not only as a liability to MIC but also to UMNO and Barisan Nasional. Who must bear the greatest responsibility for the sharp drop in the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s approval rating among the Indians which plunged from 82% in September 2007 to 38 % in December 2007 if not Samy Vellu?

Dare Samy Vellu publicly assert that he will definitely continue as MIC President and be a Barisan Nasional candidate in Sungai Siput in the next general election and that nobody and nothing in the world can stop him from doing so?

* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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