PUTRAJAYA, 13 July 2009: The 1,400 delegates at the MIC general assembly in September must pick leaders who can win back the country’s 1.8 million Indian Malaysians into the Barisan Nasional (BN), said political analyst Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.
“This is most important. MIC politics is not just politics involving the MIC delegates. It is really the question of who will the Indian [Malaysian] community trust in the post-March 8, 2008 political tsunami.
“The opposition has outstanding Indian [Malaysian] leaders who often transcend their own community and have become flag bearers for human rights, democracy, justice, fairness, good governance and accountability. Who within MIC can face these political heroes who have captured the Indian [Malaysian] hearts and minds?” Denison said in an interview with Bernama.
At the general assembly, the MIC will also hold the election for the posts of deputy president, three vice-presidents and 23 central working committee members. Long-serving party president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu won the MIC presidential election uncontested for a record 11th term in March this year.
Incumbent deputy president Datuk G Palanivel, former deputy president Datuk S Subramaniam and party vice-president Datuk S Sothinathan have announced their intention to contest the party’s number two post.
The veep race is still uncertain with several leaders like Human Resource Minister and MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S Subramaniam, Federal Territories Deputy Minister and party information chief Datuk M Saravanan, and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk SK Devamany, who is also the MIC treasurer-general, expected to join the fray.
Denison argued that the delegates to the assembly must pick a new breed of leaders, “basically new faces who can instil confidence that the party is truly
reforming in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s policy reform and also in line with the Indian [Malaysian] community’s expectations”.
“While academic qualifications and experience can be an added value, what is most essential is for men and women with character and high moral values.
“Therefore, the delegates must consider leaders who are free from any scandal or link with gangs or criminal activities, as well as free from financial controversies,” said Denison, who is also a Malaysian Human Rights Commissioner.
He said age was another factor to take into account in picking national leaders as too often those who had held their post for long were not prepared to give it up.
“The MIC delegates must elect a majority who are in their late 40s and early 50s. The urgent appeal is to drop those who have held their post for the past 10 to 15 years in the CWC.
“The MIC must take a critical but honest view of this matter. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik have stepped down and allowed their parties to move on with younger leaders,” he said.
Denison also warned about the danger of heaping praises on national leaders with very little room for dissenting views. “There must be tolerance for alternative views, especially in a climate where we want innovation and creativity.”
He said the delegates must also ensure that the national leadership was more inclusive of all sub-Indian communities such as Tamils, Northern Indians, Telugus, Malayalees and Ceylon Tamils, as well as Indian Christians, Indian Muslims and Sikhs alongside the dominant Hindu leaders.
He also called on them to elect leaders who have a clear understanding of the community’s expectations and the aspirations of the other communities in Malaysia, instead of those who espouse strong racial and religious views for political expediency.
“Failure to choose the right political leaders will further impact the credibility of the party and its leadership in the eyes of the Indian [Malaysian] community and other communities in Malaysia, and this will further erode the party’s role in the community, government and nation.