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Feb 19, 2008

Indian M'sians vent fury on MIC leaders

K Kabilan | Feb 19, 08 11:01am

Simmering discontent against the MIC has erupted into outbursts at party events, as angry Indian Malaysians demand answers for the community’s woes.

Two events - in Pajam and Kapar - were disrupted last Sunday, a day after S Samy Vellu had to be ‘rescued’ by police. It was the second incident involving him in recent weeks.

In all four cases, the crowd - claiming to represent the community - had surrounded and heckled MIC leaders, wanting them to explain why they have been left behind in terms of development.

In Pajam, Negeri Sembilan, Maika Holdings chairperson S Vel Paari, who is also Samy Vellu’s son, took the brunt of fury. He had been invited to disburse aid to the needy at an event attended by some 500 people.

An eyewitness, S Suresh, said: "He first gave out cash to some school children, and sarees and clothes to adults."

Vel Paari was then said to have given a speech in which he had said that only the MIC could help solve the community’s problems.

"The crowd listened and when he ended his speech, someone stood up and asked him to explain what had happened to the money collected by Maika," said Suresh.

A few others quickly surrounded Vel Paari.

"They were angry. They wanted him to tell them what has MIC done and why the community is still so backward," said Suresh.

Vel Paari’s minders immediately bundled him into his car and whisked him away to safety. In the ensuing melee, some of the minders were hurt.

The Kapar stand-off

In the second incident in Kapar, Selangor, also on Sunday, member of Parliament K Komala Devi was similarly heckled.

Although MIC Brigade members managed to prevent the hecklers from getting near her, a free-for-all followed in which several people were hurt.

Tension has been building since Feb 13, when Samy Vellu - at a foundation-laying ceremony for a Tamil school in Sungai Way, Selangor - was surrounded and heckled by some youths.

Last Saturday night, in Butterworth, Penang, about 60 people blocked his car while he was leaving a function and jeered him for being unable to help the community.

Samy Vellu was stuck in his car for more than 30 minutes and was only ‘rescued’ by a team of police outriders.

‘What is their struggle?’

MIC Information Chief M Saravanan lambasted those involved for their ‘thug-like’ behaviour.

"In all these cases, these people claimed that they are from Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and that they represent the angry community," he said.

"But tell me since when did Hindraf become such a violent movement. Is this their struggle? To surround, heckle and assault MIC people?"

He said the party and its leaders are not angry with the community over these incidents as "we know the people who do these are doing it for their own gain".

"These are men who have been paid to embarrass the MIC leadership. We know who they are. We are not bothered by them. We will continue to do our duty for the community," added the Federal Territory MIC chief.

He further said Hindraf should be aware that unscrupulous persons are misusing its name.

"If their (Hindraf’s) struggle is to ensure the community’s development, they should stick to that. Don’t let everyone to run loose in the name of changing the community," he said.

Following a Hindraf rally on Nov 25 last year, an unprecedented wave of dissatisfaction has surfaced over the performance of Samy Vellu and MIC as well as issues linked to discrimination and marginalisation of the community.

Many in the grassroots are of the opinion that little is being done to uplift sections of the community that are mired in poverty and low-skill jobs, and physically displaced by development.


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