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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Samy stepping down in Jan sparks talk of snap general election


Samy and Palanivel
Malaysia Chronicle

UPDATED In a surprise move that also sparked immediate talk of imminent general elections, S Samy Vellu announced his decision to step down as president of the MIC to make way for his deputy G Palanivel.

“It is an open secret that Prime Minister Najib Razak wants three people to step down before the next GE – Samy, Taib Mahmud and Musa Aman. So it looks he will have to be content with one out of three,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

“But make no mistake, this move by Samy shows that Najib is finalizing his plan for the 13th GE, which many people have predicted could come after Chinese New Year 2011.”

At last

Tian was referring to Sarawak chief mister Taib Mahmud and his Sabah counterpart Musa Aman. Unlike Samy, both East Malaysian leaders are not willing to withdraw yet and just days ago, Taib announced plans to lead Sarawak in the next state election which must be held by July 2011 at the latest.

Samy is the MIC’s longest serving president, having won the top post since 1979 and has held it for 11 consecutive terms. He has stubbornly refused to make way for younger blood and many pundits suspect that, finally, Najib may have made him an offer he could not refuse.

“Today, I’m officially announcing my decision to step down and pass the leadership to my deputy in January next year,” the Starreported him as saying.

The 74-year Samy has been a fixture in the federal cabinet since 1979 and was the Works minister when he lost his Sungai Siput parliamentary seat to Dr D Michael Jeyakumar of Parti Sosialis Malaysia in 2008.

Palanivel waits in the wings

As for his anointed successor, Palanivel was a former journalist and is currently a Senator as well as Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities. Just like Samy, he lost his parliamentary seat in Hulu Selangor in 2008 but was not picked to contest in the recent by-election.

The 61-year old is a History graduate from University Malaya and has been the MIC deputy president since 2006, snatching the post from S Subramaniam, who was the incumbent for 27 years, thanks to overt support and lobbying from Samy.

Nonetheless, there are some who do not believe that Samy will keep to his promise to step down. He had previously said he would be retiring in 2012.

“I won’t jump the gun so soon because Samy has gone back on his words before. For all we know, in December 2010, he might announce that he will step down in January 2012 – just in time for the 13th General Election,” Bukit Gantang MP Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle.

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