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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Samy Vellu’s exit suggests snap polls, says DAP man

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s planned exit in January will pave the way for snap elections next year, Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran claimed today.
Yesterday, Samy Vellu, who has helmed the MIC for more than 30 years, finally announced that he would pass the baton to his deputy Senator Datuk G. Palanivel in January, ahead of the expiry of his term in May 2012.
“With Datuk Samy Vellu’s planned exit in January, a major obstacle has been removed and it is likely that snap polls will be held in March next year,” said Kulasegaran  in a statement.
“There has been speculation that the prime minister may dissolve Parliament next year, but to proceed with his plan, he has to first ensure that Samy Vellu, who has been regarded as a liability to BN, must step down as MIC president,” he added.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is reportedly weighing whether to call for a general election within the next six months so that he may secure a fresh mandate to press forward with political and economic reforms.
A stronger economy has fuelled speculation that he might call for snap polls by the first half of 2011 although an Economist Intelligence Unit report early this month dismissed such talk, saying the results of recent by-elections suggest that the electorate has become much more volatile, especially the non-Malay voters.
Samy Vellu’s detractors have long demanded his exit, saying that the longest-serving MIC president’s reluctance to vacate his post had been dragging the party down.
The MIC suffered a record loss of six out of nine parliamentary seats and 12 out of 19 state seats it contested in Election 2008.
The MIC president sacked four party leaders — V. Mugilan, G. Kumar Aamaan, V. Subramaniam and K.P. Samy — in May this year after they spoke out against him when he announced then that he would only step down in September 2011.
After their sackings, the four leaders went on to form the Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) movement in the hope of pressuring Samy Vellu into early retirement.
“It is no exaggeration to say that due to his unwillingness to retire honourably following his and MIC’s electoral defeats in the 2008 general election Samy Vellu, who has long overstayed his welcome, has suffered public humiliation unprecedented in BN’s (Barisan Nasional) history, with several BN leaders openly calling him to retire from politics and labelling him a liability to the coalition,” said Kulasegaran.
The DAP national vice-chairman pointed out that former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was among those who had derided Samy Vellu as a liability, calling for him to step down after his defeat in Election 2008.
“Mahathir said that Samy Vellu should relinquish his post for his party’s failure in the 2008 general election where Samy Vellu was also defeated in his parliamentary stronghold of Sungai Siput,” said Kulasegaran.
He quoted Dr Mahathir as saying: “Samy’s performance is worse than Pak Lah’s (Abdullah), but he still does not want to give up his post. He should have resigned before things got to this stage.”
Samy Vellu lost the Sungai Siput seat that he had held since 1974 in the historic Election 2008 which saw BN lose its customary two-thirds majority.
Top MIC leaders like deputy president Palanivel and three vice-presidents (Datuk S. Sothinathan, Datuk S. Veerasingam and Tan Sri Dr K.S. Nijhar) were also defeated in their parliamentary constituencies.
The Ipoh Barat MP pointed out that Samy Vellu could have stepped down after Election 2008 to save himself from political humiliation, citing Gerakan founder Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu who retired from politics after suffering defeat in the 1990 general election.
“He could have done so honourably immediately after the 2008 general election and saved himself and MIC all the public political humiliation,” said Kulasegaran.
Samy Vellu, 74, came to the party’s helm in 1979 after Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam died and has held the position for 11 consecutive terms.
He was the works minister and the longest-serving minister in the Cabinet until he lost his parliamentary seat in the 2008 general election.