By K Baradan and Neville Spykerman
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 – Datuk G Palanivel has won the fierce contest for the MIC deputy presidency, but the real winner tonight was Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.
Besides Palanivel, his chosen candidates swept the board by winning all three vice-president’s posts.
Despite widespread calls for change from within and outside the party, party delegates followed the wishes of their leader since 1979.
A total of 21 out of 23 of the party’s central working committee members voted in today are also from Samy Vellu’s camp.
Today’s results showed Samy Vellu was still in control of his party, and in the MIC his wish prevails over that of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad or even Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad had suggested this week that it was time for Samy Vellu to finally retire.
And Najib appeared to be also suggesting a need for change in the MIC when he officially declared open the party’s assembly this morning.
Despite a spirited campaign, Datuk S Subramaniam could not overcome the immoveable object in the form of Samy Vellu’s grip on the party.
Subra polled just 540 votes, while Datuk S Sothinathan received 280. Palanivel took just 633 votes to clinch victory.
In the VP contest, the winners were Datuk Dr S Subramaniam, Datuk S K Devamany and Datuk M Saravanan, all of them Samy Vellu’s men.
For Palanivel, the road is now clear for him to be anointed Samy Vellu’s successor.
But for the MIC, the road to winning back support from the Indian community for Barisan Nasional (BN) remains as daunting as ever.
After the results were announced, Samy Vellu was upbeat and perhaps even sneering in his remarks about the widespread call for change in his party.
“People have asked for change and I have made changes,” Samy deadpanned.
He pointed out that 18 of the 23 new CWC members elected tonight were new while all three vice-presidents were also new.
Samy Vellu also noted that Palanivel had only been elected for a second term and was therefore still also quite new to the job.
“The president is just 73 years old. So I will take care of them and train them so they can run a strong party,” he said.
Palanivel only offered his thanks to Samy Vellu.
“Had it not been for his hard work my task would have been harder.”