THE battle for leadership positions within the MIC took centre stage in the Tamil press between 15 and 21 Nov 2008.
MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu remained adamant about defending his position in the 2009 party polls and claimed he was ever ready to take on any challenge.
“I will face the challenge,” he was quoted in Tamil Nesan on 17 Nov. On the same day, Makkal Osai quoted him as saying, “I’m ready, even if 100 people challenge me.” Samy Vellu was responding to reports that former MIC vice-president Datuk M Muthupalaniappan would be contesting for the presidency.
On 18 Nov, Malaysia Nanban reported that Bukit Bintang MIC chief Datuk VKK Teagarajan would contest for the party’s deputy presidency. Tamil Nesan, on the same day, quoted him as saying: “The 8 March elections showed the weaknesses in the MIC. I’m standing for elections to strengthen, and bring new life to, the party.”
Malaysia Nanban on the same day reported that former MIC deputy president Datuk S Subramaniam refused to comment on which post he might contest.
“Is Pasamanickam supporting Muthupalaniappan?” Makkal Osai asked on its front page on 21 Nov. The newspaper reported that some party members believe that former Johor MIC leader Tan Sri G Pasamanickam might support and campaign for Muthuppalaniappan.
Makkal Osai also reported that Samy Vellu refused to hold a press conference after the party’s central committee meetings in Kuala Lumpur. The daily said this had never happened before over the past 10 years. Makkal Osai reported that a notice was sent to the media to say no press conference would be held.
All three Tamil papers on 15 Nov reported on the rally in front of the Sri Lankan High Commission the day before. The rally, organised by MIC Youth and some non-governmental organisations, was to protest against the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Makkal Osai‘s 15 Nov report, Malaysians joined hands to protest, said about 2,000 people gathered at the rally, including members of Barisan Nasional component parties Umno, MCA, Gerakan and the People’s Progressive Party.
In another development, Makkal Osai on 20 Nov reported Samy Vellu as saying that the release of the five Hindraf leaders being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) was sabotaged by Hindraf supporters themselves. The daily quoted Samy Vellu as saying: “The Prime Minister agreed to release the Hindraf five but the unwanted incident during the PM’s Hari Raya open house spoilt the plan.”
Samy Vellu was referring to the visit by Hindraf supporters at the Muslim ministers’ open house at the Putra World Trade Centre in October. Hindraf supporters had gone to hand a memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for the release of all ISA detainees. Samy Vellu said he figured that there were some people who didn’t want the Hindraf leaders released.
Aid for Tamil schools
“Seventy Tamil schools will be fully aided,” Makkal Osai reported on 19 Nov. Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Senator A Kohilan said out of 289 Tamil schools, 70 schools would be converted to fully aided schools.
Kohilan said previously, the government refused to give aid to most Tamil schools because they were located on private land. Malaysia Nanban reported Kohilan as saying that so far, the owners of land where these 70 schools are located have agreed to transfer their land so that the government could extend financial aid to the schools.
On 21 Nov, Tamil Nesan quoted Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P Ramasamy as saying the state government had allocated RM1.5 million for Tamil school development in Penang. According to Malaysia Nanban, Ramasamy, who is also state economic planning, education and human resources committee chairperson, said this would benefit 28 schools in Penang.
Makkal Osai on 16 Nov reported on the plight of a woman who claimed that she was converted from Hinduism to Islam when she was seven years old without her father’s knowledge.
S Bangarammah, 26, said her mother died when she was a baby. She and her three siblings were left in different homes and childcare centres by her father. She only realised she had been converted when she was 15 years old. Bangarammah said she is now having difficulties registering her marriage.