Najib’s Batu Caves visit may spell the end for Samy Vellu

By Baradan Kuppusamy (The Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The most notable absentee when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made his symbolic pitch to the Indian community at Batu Caves on Sunday was MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

It was the first time since last year's general elections that Samy Vellu was missing at a hugely symbolic Indian event graced by the prime minister.

His absence appears to indicate a distancing in ties between the Najib administration and the traditional MIC leadership dominated by Samy Vellu.

Several days before Sunday's event, word was already out that the MIC president would not be attending the event.

While his detractors said he was not invited, his supporters said he was busy because the Batu Caves event clashed with the Perak MIC convention.

But critics point out that the Perak MIC meeting was a small affair compared to the hugely significant Batu Caves meet that was attended by the prime minister, and could have been easily postponed.

“The new Najib administration is keeping some distance from him,” said a political analyst of Indian affairs, who declined to be named because of the sensitivities involved.

“Najib wants to show that he cares for the Indians but does not want to be dragged down by Samy Vellu’s unpopularity among grassroots Indians,” the analyst said, adding that the Indian leaders attending the function with Najib were “mostly not MIC-type people.”

“His absence was very noticeable but not regretted,” he said.

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