Samy Vellu Vows To Fight On For Indian Community

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 21 (Bernama) — "I will continue to fight for the betterment of the (Indian) community. The question of the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) being dented from recent incidents does not arise," said Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the MIC supremo.

By S. Retna 

Referring to recent street protests by some members of the Indian community and those from the so-called Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), he said the MIC's spirit and strength had not been weakened by those incidents.

"I have always stood by the MIC and will continue to stand by the party. I will continue to fight for the community to ensure that Indians in the country continue to rise socially and economically," he told Bernama in an interview.

But the MIC president, who has led the largest Indian-based political party in the country for the last 28 years, reminded the Indian community that Malaysia is a multiracial country and that the nation's wealth must be shared in a reasonable manner.

"This is important. We cannot get whatever we have asked for and the same applies to the other races. The sharing of the country's economic wealth must be addressed in a reasonable manner," he said in a frank interview which covered a wide range of subjects involving the Indian community.

Touching on Hindraf, Samy Vellu, who is Works Minister, said that when the group initially censured the government, it did not ask for anything for Malaysian Indians but was more inclined to criticise the authorities and in particular, Umno, the main partner in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

"But they failed to realise that fighting Umno is equivalent to fighting the Malays, who are the majority in the country. This is not the approach to make changes for the (Indian) community. We have always worked with the government, which is backed by Umno, to bring changes to the (Indian) community," he said.

Hindraf, on Nov 25, held a rally in Kuala Lumpur claiming that the government had failed to help the Indians over the last 50 years.

Five Hindraf leaders are now held under the Internal Security Act at the Kamunting detention centre for being a threat to national security.

Samy Vellu, who is often noted for his outspoken nature, said although Hindraf did not discredit the MIC or its leadership, the MIC could not stand and watch "any attack on Umno".

"I know the weaknesses in the implementation and delivery system at several stages of the government. In spite of this, I have continued to raise issues concerning the Malaysian Indian community.

"Being a minister, I'm privileged to have this information and whatever we discuss at the Cabinet is classified. As such, I'm unable to divulge certain information to the public, espicially to the community.

"I have openly made constructive criticism of the government's recruitment and promotion of Indians in the public sector. I have also brought to the attention of the Cabinet the sufferings of estate workers, who are now enjoying a fixed monthly salary…we in the MIC have raised various matters to the government as we represent 1.8 million Indians in the country," he said.

Speaking on Hindu temples, the minister said MIC had always been a "shield" for these temples although some of these places of worship were built illegally.

"As for the Kampung Jawa temple (which was demolished by the authorities in October because it was built on private land after the land owner obtained a court ruling), we did our best and even the prime minister did his best but the court order stood in our way. I have personally handled thousands of temples," he said. For the record, there are more than 25,000 Hindu temples nationwide.

"I did this because I'm a staunch Hindu but I'm not a Hindu extremist. I know for a fact that extremism can never achieve anything," Samy Vellu stressed.

The MIC president also said that he had been constantly "fighting" with the government to get what Malaysian Indians were entitled to and that he had records to prove this.

"On Tamil schools, I have looked after these schools because I myself am a son of a rubber tapper, who had lived in estates and I was one of the first to go to a Tamil school…Tamil is my language…my mother tongue.

"Now elements who do not know about Tamil schools and their problems are making blind accusations that the MIC did not protect these schools. The government and the prime minister gave RM1 million to temples annually.

"Some quarters have asked for the acounts of this money. I only make recommendations to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) (under the Prime Minister's Department) on the allocations needed and it channels the funds directly.

"Some ignorant people have been asking what has happened to the money. My question is, "What money? Who gave what money to the MIC?", he said.

On the economic front, Samy Vellu said the MIC, through its economic bureau, had created some 50,000 active Indian businessmen, from small to big. He said these businessmen had also asked the government to allow them to bring in workers from India. This matter was raised by him in the Cabinet and approval was given to bring in 40,000 Indian workers.

Following the MIC's request, the government also allocated some RM40 million for micro-credit schemes and this scheme too had been successful.

"However we face problems of repayment of these loans. Despite that, the MIC through Nijhar (Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar, MIC vice-president and party economic bureau chief) has now proposed for further financial aid for Malaysian Indians," he said.

Samy Vellu also claimed that "some unscrupulous elements" were taking advantage of the current situation to hit out at the MIC and its leadership by spreading lies via the short messaging service (SMS).

He alleged that these people had actually failed the Malaysian Indian community.

"I have made it a point to have direct contact with the grassroots…we must hear and listen to the grouses of the people.

"At no time will I give up the Malaysian Indian community. I'm always subservient to them and nobody can stop me from fighting for the community," he said.