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‘Iron woman’ seeks senior Malaysian Indian Congress post


Kuala Lumpur : P. Mariayee, called the “Iron woman of Jelebu”, will be seeking the vice president’s post in the male-dominated Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) at the party’s plenary next week.

Heading the party’s Jelebu division for the past 15 years, she is the only woman MIC divisional leader from Seremben, Negri Sembilan state.

Mariayee, 59, has said that she had decided to go for the post as there was a dearth of women at the top in the party.

“There are many problems facing Indian women. There is still a lot to be done for them and I believe I am the person who can do it,” said the businesswoman who has had no problems dealing with the male-dominated party leadership since she joined the MIC as a 19-year-old.

She felt that this message may resonate with the 400-odd women delegates who were a formidable force despite the fact that there were about 1,000 male delegates to the assembly.

It may not be beyond her to get into the record book by claiming the post at the Sep 12 party elections, New Straits Times said Thursday, considering that the party’s long-time chief, S. Samy Vellu, has “a soft corner for her”.

While she is not on Vellu’s “official” list, she is well-liked by the charismatic leader who admires her tenacity and grit in fighting off challenges for her divisional post.

Mariayee came into the limelight when she took out a bottle of samsu, a local brew, while debating the evils of illicit alcohol at the 2006 general assembly.

She hopes to cash in on her record in dealing with social problems facing the community.

Mariayee said she may lack educational qualifications but that her contribution over the past 40 years to the Indian community and the party would hold her in good stead.

“The upper levels of the party should not be dominated by professionals and intellectuals. It is unfair that only those who are well-educated should be elected to top party posts,” she said.

She is only the second woman in the five-decade-old party to seek a high post.

The first time that a woman contested for a vice-president’s post was in the 2000 party elections when G. Leela Rama, a member of parliament, garnered 385 votes to come fifth in a field of six.

Mariayee came within a whisker of winning a seat on the Central Working Committee in the 2006 party polls.

“The last time, I lost out by a mere three votes. I think I can make it this time,” she said.