MIC Crisis Widening Further - Samy Vellu to fight all the way
SEREMBAN: MIC president S Samy Vellu, who is facing mounting pressure to relinquish his post, has described the crisis as a battle.
“We are at war,” he told the delegates attending the Negri Sembilan MIC annual general meeting in Seremban this morning.
Training his guns on rebel secretary-general S Murugesan, who was seated on the stage as well, Samy Vellu said: “When the general tells you to shoot, you shoot.”
The 74-year-old politician said that while he did not harbour any resentment towards Murugesan, the latter, however, had erred in not defending MIC.
Unable to contain his disappointment with the man he had appointed as secretary-general, Samy Vellu said: “I had expected him to protect MIC against those who are bent on destroying it.”
Samy Vellu also clarified that it was former MIC president S Manickavasagam, and not him, who had urged (another former president) VT Sambanthan to step down.
He was referring to Murugesan's statement yesterday criticising Samy Vellu for invoking his presidential powers to expel four party members.
Murugesan had said that he was forced to make a stand as he owed it to the party and delegates who voted him into the MIC central working committee.
Saying that the laws of karma were at work, Murugesan had claimed that Samy Vellu asked Sambanthan to step down and history was now repeating itself.
'I would step down earlier if...'
Meanwhile, Samy Vellu told the MIC delegates that he would step down earlier if he is given other responsibilities.
“I have already said that I will hand over (the leadership) to (deputy president G) Palanivel in September 2011. What more do they want?” he asked.
The MIC president did not specify what the other responsibilities were but there has been speculation that he might be appointed as the roving ambassador to South Asia.
Samy Vellu, who has been president for three decades, said he was not perturbed by the ongoing campaign to oust him.
Referring to the “Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu” (GAS) rally slated for tomorrow, he said: “They can gather 30,000 people and it will not affect MIC or me.”
GAS was initiated by former MIC Youth deputy chief V Mugilan after the president expelled him from the party last week.
In a related development, Murugesan defended his action to publicly voice his opinion on the sackings.
Responding to the criticism from MIC's three vice-presidents, he said: “I have noted their points and thank them for expressing their views. This is healthy democracy.”
“It is exactly for this right – for elected representatives to be able to voice their views without fear or favour – that I had stood up for,” he added in a statement.
UPDATED PETALING JAYA: MIC secretary-general S Murugesan has become the latest, and most prominent, figure to join the chorus of dissatisfaction towards party president S Samy Vellu.
Once seen as a strong supporter of Samy Vellu, Murugesan said he has to answer to his conscience and the party delegates who voted him into the Central Working Committee, and not just one man.
Speaking at a press conference in Petaling Jaya, the lawyer-turned-politician thanked the MIC president for appointing him as the secretary-general.
Murugesan also made it clear that he was not questioning the president's retirement plan, but rather Samy Vellu's decision to sack four party members based on his presidential powers.
“I owe heavier responsibility and loyalty to MIC above any one individual, even if that individual is me or the president. I cannot forsake my conscience and the interest of the party to safeguard my position in the party,” he said.
“I have always felt that at some point in life an individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences. I believe that the time has come,” he added.
Murugesan's unprecedented stand was the result of the president's decision to sack party Youth deputy chief V Mugilan, CWC members KP Samy and Petaling Jaya division leader V Subramaniam, better known as Barat Maniam.
Subsequently, Mugilan went on to form the Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) campaign, which is slated for an official launch this Sunday.
Presidential powers – last resort
Murugesan said the presidential powers of expulsion should only be used as a last resort and not as the first option.
“They (those sacked) should be given the chance to defend themselves at the disciplinary committee,” he added.
The srecretary-general also stressed that MIC is a democratic institution and therefore dissenting voices must be tolerated.
“The Indian community is watching us. The nation is watching us. We are sending the wrong signals to Indian youths who might be interested in joining the party.
“How are we to unite the Indian community with its diverse views if we don’t respect dissenting opinions?” he asked.
'You can call it karma'
Meanwhile, Murugesan said he does not agree with the expulsion of members just because they had asked the president to step down earlier than stipulated.
He added that counter arguments and not expulsion should be used to tackle differing opinions.
However, he pointed out that it was Samy Vellu who had set the precedent.
"It was this president who set a precedent some 40 years ago by asking the past president VT Sambathan to step down. And history is repeating itself, you can call it 'karma'," he said.
Asked if he was supporting Mugilan, he replied: "I am aware of the consequences. My actions are my own."
On whether he would join GAS, Murugesan said:"I have not formed an opinion on that.”
Responding to another question, Murugesan said while discontent is brewing in the party, he was, however, unsure if more CWC members would step forward to express their unhappiness.
“As for me, it was a very difficult decision but I had to make this decision. I have great faith in MIC and its ability to lead the Indian community. I love this party,” he added.
New venue for GAS rally
In a related development, the GAS gathering will now be held at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Seri Kembangan.
According to Mugilan, he booked the venue yesterday.
Mugilan said the reason for the venue change was because of Samy Vellu's interference in pressuring the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) management.
However, PWTC's chief operations officer Maxson Abdullah told FMT yesterday that it was Mugilan who cancelled the booking.
Quizzed on this today, he replied: "Not me, they (PWTC) were the ones who called me, and after negotiations, I agreed (to cancel the booking)."
Mugilan expects 15,000 people to show up for the Sunday gathering.
He also challenged Samy Vellu to set up a booth at the event where he can check the identity of those who attend.
"They will bring their identity cards, and more than 80% will be MIC members," he said.
By Teoh El Sen