Sunday, March 2, 2008

Samy Vellu seeks re-election and faces ethnic rage

Govt may have not done enough for ethnic-Indians: Vellu'Govt+neglected+ethnic-Indians'+

Press Trust Of India
Kuala Lumpur, March 02, 2008
First Published: 16:50 IST(2/3/2008)
Last Updated: 16:59 IST(2/3/2008)

Seeking re-election in the upcoming polls, Malaysia's only
ethnic-Indian minister, who faced flak for opposing protests by the
community against alleged marginalisation, has now admitted that the
government may not have done enough for them.

Samy Vellu, whose Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is part of the
ruling Barisan Nasional coalition led by Premier Abdullah Badawi, said
ethnic Indians were facing lack of education opportunities,
unemployment and inadequate housing facilities leading to sprouting of
illegal urban squatters as well as low literacy level.

Vellu, who is facing accusations of not doing enough for the community
and criticism for running down the unprecedented street protests led
by Hindu Right Action Force, said he wanted more opportunities for
ethnic Indians in all fields.

"This is what we have been asking the government, and the government
has been accommodative, although I must say that it may not be enough.
The government has promised to do more for the Indians. We are
confident," he told the New Straits Times.

Vellu is contesting from his traditional seat for the seventh time in
the March 8 poll though there was some speculation that the ruling
alliance wanted to dump him in the wake of the demonstrations since

The minister said the progress of ethnic Indians in Malaysia, who have
migrated from rural to urban areas, is being impeded by a host of
social ills like "alcoholism, increasing school dropout rate and high
crime rate".

Vellu's comments came amid an advertisement blitz by his MIC asking
ethnic Indians to vote for the party. Leading dailies everyday carry
full page ads boasting about MIC's "strong and proven track record for

The ads claimed that MIC understood the community's challenges in the
coming years and promised to create "world class Tamil schools."

Vellu admitted that there was a failure at the implementation level
which has resulted in the ineffectiveness of current delivery

"We tell Malaysian Indians that there is no alternative to the MIC and
any replacement by opposition parties will not in any way protect the
interests or legitimate rights of Malaysian Indians," the MIC
president said.

In 62 parliamentary and 130 state seats, Indians comprise 10 per cent
or more of the registered voters.

Asked what the MIC had done to address the pressing issues listed out
by Vellu, the minister claimed that the party had "taken the burden on
itself and had created a new outlook to establish an educated Indian

He said in the last 20 years, MIC had rebuilt almost 100 schools with
30 million ringit (Rs 30 crore) in grants from the government and an
additional 7 million ringgit raised by the MIC.


Malaysian opposition targets Samy Vellu
Indo-Asian News Service
Kuala Lumpur, March 01, 2008

Malaysian Indian leader S Samy Vellu and his Malaysian Indian Congress
(MIC) are being targeted at election rallies as the opposition woos
ethnic Indian voters ahead of the March 8 elections.

Some of the criticism is directed at the government in which Vellu is
the works minister. The reference to "police repression" on Tamils
draws enthusiastic response from the crowds, media reports say.

Indian voters, predominantly Tamil, form eight per cent of Malaysia's
27 million population.

Among those wooing Indian and ethnic Chinese voters are senior Malay
leaders like controversial former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Ibrahim's daughter Noor Izza Anwar is challenging Shahrizat Jalil, a
Malay of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.

Politicians are exploiting the unhappiness felt by the Indians ever
since the authorities cracked down on them for taking to the streets
with allegations of discrimination. MIC president Samy Vellu is
targeted in the speeches.

When opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) candidate Gobind Singh
Deo, an ethnic Indian, and Ibrahim's Parti Kedalan Rakyat (PKR) Wangsa
Maju candidate Wee Choo Keong speak about the police and the
judiciary, the crowds roar: "Correct! Correct! Correct!"

As March 8 approaches, microphones are getting louder, billboards are
getting bigger and campaign kitchens, meant to feed the volunteers
fresh cooked food, are getting busier, The Star newspaper said.

Mahathir Mohamad, defying his age and health, has come out,
selectively though, to campaign for his son Mukhriz Mahathir.

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