‘Raceless’ politics if other parties ready, says Samy Vellu


Kuala Lumpur : Senior Malaysian Indian leader Samy Vellu has scoffed at opposition parties that have emerged stronger in last month’s polls calling themselves “multi-racial.”

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President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that has spoken for the 2.5 million ethnic Indians since Malaysia became independent in 1957, Vellu has said that he is happy if all parties agree to rid the country of race-based politics.

“Very good. I also like it. I will be the first person to support such raceless political institutions provided others also follow. If they stop, I will also stop,” he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper Friday.

“Maybe we will then change the name of the party from Malaysian Indian Congress to Malaysian some other Congress,” said the long-time president and a former minister who lost his ninth bid at re-election last month.

However, he said, the MIC could not do this when the entire party system in the country was based on race.

“No race, no party,” he said.

He criticised political parties that claimed to be multiracial when 95 percent of their members were made up of one particular race.

“I also can say that the MIC is multiracial because we have 15 to 20 Tamil-speaking Chinese members who are married to Indian girls,” he said.

Indians form eight percent of Malaysia’s population of 28 million. The majority Malays are estimated at 60 percent plus, while Chinese are 30 percent.

There are a number of parties speaking for the three major ethnic groups. The ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, has, besides the MIC, the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) of the Malays and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) speaking for the ethnic Chinese.

Vellu, who faced demands that he step down from the MIC president’s post even during the run-up to the elections, said he was leaving it to the leaders of the party’s branches.

Last week, he had said that he would step down only next year when his term ends.

Thursday, however, he said: “Whether or not I remain as the president is not for me to decide.

“Let the branch leaders decide because they are the voters,” he said.

“If they say ‘No’ and I have to leave, I’ll say okay, bye-bye. That afternoon itself, I will pack up and go away.

“I will never even use Ipoh Road anymore,” he said in an apparent reference to the location of the party headquarters at Menara Manickavasagam, Jalan Ipoh.

He added, tongue in cheek, that if he were to continue using the road, people might think he was creating trouble for the MIC.