|End For Samy Vellu's Legacy After Historic Loss At Sg Siput
By S. Retna
KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 (Bernama) -- March 8 was his birthday but what he did not bargain for was the unexpected birthday gift from "his" voters in Sungai Siput which had been his bastion since 1974.
The man in question is none other than MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who turned 72 yesterday, and was trounced resoundingly in the 12th general election.
He may not have seen it coming but for many, especially in the last few months, the writing had been on the wall.
The relationship between Samy Vellu and the constituency goes back a long way when he was picked to contest in 1974 as a young aspiring politician.
Sungai Siput became synonymous with Samy Vellu and it was his stronghold for there was a general notion that he could never be defeated there.
But the impossible did happen on his ninth attempt to stand in Sungai Siput when Dr D. Jeyakumar, contesting under the Parti Keadilan Rakyat ticket, coasted to victory on Samy's "special" day.
As if this was not enough, the entire MIC line-up formulated by the veteran politician for this election was nearly wiped out by the Opposition, including the party's deputy president and vice-presidents.
With the damming defeat, the MIC now becomes the only party, with its top leaders -- president, deputy president (Datuk G. Palanivel) and three-vice presidents (Datuk S. Sothinathan, Datuk S. Veerasingam and Tan Sri Dr K.S. Nijhar) -- will not have parliamentary seats to their names.
The MIC was allotted nine parliamentary and 19 state seats to contest. Only three MIC candidates won parliamentary seats while a mere seven won state seats.
MIC candidates who emerged victorious in the parliamentary seats were MIC information chief Datuk M. Saravanan (Tapah), S. K. Devamany (Cameron Highlands) and secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (Segamat).
The party's candidates were wiped out in Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor while the seven who managed to cling on were the four state assemblymen in Johor, one in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang.
Political observers said MIC's dismal performance in this polls was to be expected as the "tell-tale" signs were there but were never noticed by party leaders.
It began when certain segments of the 1.8 million Indians unhappy with the way the party was addressing the woes of the community, sparked an uprising of some sorts by organising a street demonstration in Kuala Lumpur in November last year.
Despite the intense pressure, Samy Vellu vowed that he would make changes to the MIC line-up in this election. He did make changes but they were minimal. He brought in new faces only in Saravanan and S. Murugesan (who contested the Subang constituency and lost).
It is without doubt that the veteran leader, who was appointed as Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister in 1978 and subsequently Works Minister in 1979, has to leave the Cabinet, in which he was a member for many years.
Samy Vellu, who once worked as a bus conductor, office boy and a newscaster in RTM, climbed the party's ladder the hard way.
After becoming an MIC member in 1959 at the Batu Caves branch, he clawed his way up as the acting president in 1979 following the death of Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, the then MIC president.
The eldest son of rubber tappers Sangilimuthu and Angammah, he took the helm of MIC in 1981. He has held on to that position despite facing strong challenge many a time.
After serving the community for nearly 30 years, the man, who as a kid, moved from estate to estate with his parents in search of employment, had a hard decision to make in the light of the current circumstances.
Will he step aside in the party or plod on, will he be made a senator and retain his works minister's portfolio, one time will tell.