Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Indian M'sians Vent Fury on MIC Leaders


Indian M'sians vent fury on MIC leaders
Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 19 @ 00:08:17 CST

K Kabilan | Feb 19, 08
Simmering discontent against the MIC has erupted into outbursts at party events, as angry Indian Malaysians demand answers for the community’s woes.
Two events - in Pajam and Kapar - were disrupted last Sunday, a day after S Samy Vellu had to be ‘rescued’ by police. It was the second incident involving him in recent weeks.
In all four cases, the crowd - claiming to represent the community - had surrounded and heckled MIC leaders, wanting them to explain why they have been left behind in terms of development.
In Pajam, Negeri Sembilan, Maika Holdings chairperson S Vel Paari, who is also Samy Vellu’s son, took the brunt of fury. He had been invited to disburse aid to the needy at an event attended by some 500 people.
An eyewitness, S Suresh, said: "He first gave out cash to some school children, and sarees and clothes to adults."
Vel Paari was then said to have given a speech in which he had said that only the MIC could help solve the community’s problems.
"The crowd listened and when he ended his speech, someone stood up and asked him to explain what had happened to the money collected by Maika," said Suresh.
A few others quickly surrounded Vel Paari.
"They were angry. They wanted him to tell them what has MIC done and why the community is still so backward," said Suresh.
Vel Paari’s minders immediately bundled him into his car and whisked him away to safety. In the ensuing melee, some of the minders were hurt.
The Kapar stand-off
In the second incident in Kapar, Selangor, also on Sunday, member of Parliament K Komala Devi was similarly heckled.
Although MIC Brigade members managed to prevent the hecklers from getting near her, a free-for-all followed in which several people were hurt.
Tension has been building since Feb 13, when Samy Vellu - at a foundation-laying ceremony for a Tamil school in Sungai Way, Selangor - was surrounded and heckled by some youths.
Last Saturday night, in Butterworth, Penang, about 60 people blocked his car while he was leaving a function and jeered him for being unable to help the community.
Samy Vellu was stuck in his car for more than 30 minutes and was only ‘rescued’ by a team of police outriders.
‘What is their struggle?’
MIC Information Chief M Saravanan lambasted those involved for their ‘thug-like’ behaviour.
"In all these cases, these people claimed that they are from Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and that they represent the angry community," he said.
"But tell me since when did Hindraf become such a violent movement. Is this their struggle? To surround, heckle and assault MIC people?"
He said the party and its leaders are not angry with the community over these incidents as "we know the people who do these are doing it for their own gain".
"These are men who have been paid to embarrass the MIC leadership. We know who they are. We are not bothered by them. We will continue to do our duty for the community," added the Federal Territory MIC chief.
He further said Hindraf should be aware that unscrupulous persons are misusing its name.
"If their (Hindraf’s) struggle is to ensure the community’s development, they should stick to that. Don’t let everyone to run loose in the name of changing the community," he said.
Following a Hindraf rally on Nov 25 last year, an unprecedented wave of dissatisfaction has surfaced over the performance of Samy Vellu and MIC as well as issues linked to discrimination and marginalisation of the community.
Many in the grassroots are of the opinion that little is being done to uplift sections of the community that are mired in poverty and low-skill jobs, and physically displaced by development.
Sothi: Teluk Kemang 'no problem at all'
RK Anand | Feb 19, 08 12:04pm
MIC vice-president S Sothinathan is confident of retaining the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan despite political pundits predicting a possible swing in votes.
He dismissed the suggestion that the Malay and Indian voters in the constituency were dissatisfied with Barisan Nasional (BN).
"Everyday, I am going there for ceramah and I haven't seen anything to indicate as such (a swing in votes)," Sothinathan told Malaysiakini in a telephone interview yesterday.
Asked if he was convinced of winning the seat, the deputy minister of natural resources and environment replied: "No problem at all."
"I have been holding at least two ceramah daily, one for the Malays and another for the Chinese and Indians.
"I have been doing this for the last 10 days, I haven't seen a single sign of this or heard people talking about it (voters switching to the opposition)," he reiterated.
Recently, he also brushed aside PPP president M Kayveas' claim that some 3,000 disgruntled members from the division left MIC to join the latter's party.
"I have some 11,000 members in my division. All of them are accounted for and I don't know who has left. Maybe the 3,000 members fell from the sky or were picked from the roadside," he was quoted as saying in a news report.
In the 2004 general election, Sothinathan won the Teluk Kemang seat after defeating PKR's Ab Manap Sahardin with a 17,777 majority.
MIC will retain all seats
Meanwhile, the MIC vice-president was also confident that his party would hold on to all its nine parliamentary and 19 state seats in the March 8 general election.
MIC's future had come under scrutiny since the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) which drew some 30,000 people to the streets in Kuala Lumpur.
The party and its leaders were subjected to intense criticism for allegedly failing to uplift the status of the Indian community.
This unexpected turn of events led observers to speculate that the community, which had always been a staunch supporter of BN, could turn its back on the ruling coalition in this elections.
However, Sothinathan remained positive about the outcome.
"We are very confident about this but we have to work hard. If we work hard, we would definitely retain all our seats," he said.
He was also certain that the strategy to introduce more new faces in MIC's election line-up would yield greater support for the party.
Critics rapped
As for the criticisms against MIC, the vice-president stressed that nobody could accuse the party of not performing its role.
"We have always been voicing out the grouses and problems faced by the community. More needs to be done, that's all," he explained.
He also took a swipe at the critics, saying that they have not done anything to help the community but keep "barking and shouting" instead.
"We are the ones on the ground doing things for the community and they (the critics) asks us to list down what we have done. If they are so concerned about the community than they should have at least done a little (for the community).
"What have they contributed? Nothing. They don't do anything (to help) but keep criticising those who do," he added.
Conceding that more had to be done for the Indian community, Sothinathan said it was important for the Indians to remain united to achieve this.
"We have to work hard and make sure that we are united. To do more, we have to be united and work together.
"We cannot break into small groups and ask for more to be done, nobody is going to respect or listen to us," he added.
Samy Vellu still relevant
On detractors claiming that MIC's 72-year-old president S Samy Vellu had overstayed his welcome by remaining at the helm for 28 years, Sothinathan said a leader should serve as long as the people and his party wanted him to do so.
"The day a party rejects a person, that is the day he should leave," said the vice-president, adding that he believes Samy Vellu could still contribute.
"The party fully supports him. Even in the (party) elections, he returned unopposed. So what is there to say that he has overstayed?" he asked.
Quizzed on the problems faced by MIC leaders, including the president, on the ground in terms of being heckled at and mobbed by angry crowds, Sothinathan believes these were isolated cases.
"This is just an attempt by a small group of people trying to create untoward incidents. I don't see this as the general sentiment of the Indians," he said.
Sothinathan, who is touted as a possible candidate for the MIC presidency in the near future, was also asked on what new measures he would implement should he assume the post.
"I will toe the party line and do my best for the party. Right now, I am not worried about what is in store for myself tomorrow, I am more concerned about what I can do for the party and the community today," he replied.

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