Sunday, May 21, 2006

Datuk Seri Samy Vellu - Time To Leave?

Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, undisputed overlord of the Indian community for the better part of three decades is an example of the survival of the fittest. His supporters wax eloquent on his contributions to the Indians in particular and the nation in general. Or is it the other way round? That depends on your assessment of the pugnacious veteran.

I don't know Samy Vellu except for what I read in the papers every time an issue on the toll rates comes up or if some highway or bridge is damaged. I do know that he has the best attendance record in Parliament and is probably the best informed minister when it comes to clarifications about his ministry and anything that comes under his purview. In that, no one can take credit away from him as an efficient, conscientious and dedicated Cabinet Officer.

Like other Malaysians I have read that he brooks no interference in his work, does not tolerate dissent or any hint of a challenge to his unquestioned position as numero uno and has instilled discipline in a previously 'cowboy' party. I also know that he has by sheer courage and determination molded the hitherto weak organization into a strong, efficient and respected partner in the BN coalition.

No matter how good, efficient or benevolent a leader is, there comes a time when he has to gracefully retire from the scene. This however is the exception rather than the rule everywhere. Even good leaders are either unceremoniously shown the door or are dragged out kicking and screaming - unfortunate really, just because one doesn't know when to call it a day.

Like many others I too have always taken a tidak apa attitude when it comes to the goings on in the MIC; not my problem-lah. However on reading the papers today and the plea by it's Deputy President, Datuk Subramaniam, I feel that I should write and have my say on this. Over the past few days there has been news about Samy Vellu having accused Dr. Mahahtir of promising a lot to, but having done nothing for the Indians. Subsequently he denied having uttered any such words and later accused Subramaniam (Subra) of orchestrating the whole thing. Then he upped the ante by saying that he has had it with Subra's ways, the latter was trying to undermine him and that the MIC should choose between one of them, implying 'throw out Subra'. Yesterday Subra appealed to Samy Vellu to leave him alone and that he prefers to put his future on the line in upcoming polls leaving it to the delegates to decide whether he remains as deputy and he is not contesting the president's post.

For any right thinking person viewing this scene from the outside it looks like plain bullying. Subra is first sidelined in the party, isolated actually, deprived from standing in the last general elections under the MIC quota and now it looks like Samy Vellu wants to totally incapacitate him politically before the party elections which is round the corner. A recent SMS poll found that Subra would win hands down if he was challenged by Samy Vellu's handpicked man in the contest for the deputy president's post. This must have given the old survivor the jitters and has probably prompted him to react in the only way politicians of his ilk know - 'cut the ground from under his feet' and he'll plunge into oblivion.

People generally have a very short memory and it is human nature to forget all the good that one has done, and remember only the unpopular and the distasteful, and that won't change any time soon. So there is no use referring to all the progress made or the benefits obtained by the Indians as a justification to remain in power indefinitely. The popular opinion now is that all politicians from the Mahathir era still around in Pak Lah's cabinet should go and go soon. There is nothing more the 'overstayers' can do for the public good. Better to leave gracefully now, than as mentioned earlier, to be dragged out kicking and screaming. Remember, in dictatorships overstayers are routinely executed.

As for Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, take your mentor Dr. Mahathir as an example of perfect timing. He knew the exact moment to leave and his place in history is assured. It would be a pity if you drag your feet now. Perhaps the time for you to leave has arrived and better now than when the members echo a British politician who said " In God's name, go!"


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9:46 AM GMT+8  
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