Vell Paari stands firm on Umno bashing

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC central working committee (CWC) member S Vell Paari's stinging comments against Umno in an interview with FMT is said to have ruffled many a feather.

Even Umno's mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia reproduced the story today while its frontpage comic strip “Senyum Kambing” took a swipe at Vell Paari, and his father, MIC president S Samy Vellu.

However, Vell Paari is unfazed and remains steadfast in his opinion that Umno's policies and actions were the catalyst for Indians voting for the opposition in the last general election.

Responding to Umno executive secretary Rauf Yusoh's denial that the party is backing the campaign to oust Samy Vellu, and that it only offers help to troubled component parties, Vell Paari said this is akin to the Tamil proverb of “pinching a child to make it cry, and then rocking the cot to pacify it.”

As for Utusan's “Senyum Kambing” jibe, Vell Paari laughed it off, saying, “How does one respond to a kambing (goat)? The best a kambing can hope for is to become mutton briyani.”

Vell Paari said while he welcomed Rauf's denial, he was, however, perplexed as to why Umno chose to remain silent when countless news reports appeared in the past claiming that Umno and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak were pushing for his father's exit.

“If you keep repeating a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. So the lie that was trumpeted here was that it was solely because of my father that BN (Barisan Nasional) lost Indian votes,” he said.

'Discriminatory' policies

Vell Paari reiterated that it was the "discriminatory" policies perpetuated by Umno and its leaders which had sowed the seeds of discontent, and parties like MIC and MCA had to fight an uphill battle to convince their respective communities.

Citing Malay pressure group Perkasa as an example, he said the group's chairman Ibrahim Ali was given the space and freedom to accuse Chinese voters as being ungrateful and demand that they be punished.

“Is it right to brand them as ingrates when they were merely exercising their democratic right to vote for a party or candidate of their choice?” he asked.

“Is it fair to call Indians 'beggars' and the Chinese 'prostitutes', and tell them to be grateful for being granted citizenship in this country”? he added, referring to Najib's former aide Nasir Safar.

Nasir had allegedly uttered these remarks during a seminar in February, prompting MIC and MCA members present to stage a walkout in protest.

The issue ignited a massive public outcry, and Nasir later resigned from his post. Scores of police reports were lodged, and investigation is still pending.

Vell Paari said MIC leaders and members encounter great hardship in campaigning for Indian votes when such issues of inequality exist.

“An Indian parent says, 'My child got 8As but is not given a scholarship, whereas a Malay child with lesser grades is given one. How do we explain this? They say, 'we are called beggars and immigrants', how do we explain this?” he asked.

'Pushed against the wall'

Vell Paari said another poignant example is the manner and speed in which government leaders had reacted to the fatal shooting of 15-year-old schoolboy, Aminulraysid Hamzah, by the police.

“While my heart bleeds for the victim and his family, we in MIC are posed with the question as to why there was never such a response when countless number of Indian youths were gunned down?

“Fix these issues, and Indian votes will return; leadership issue is secondary,” he said.

“You can only push a community to a certain extent; the Indians have been pushed against the wall, so this is what you will get in return (protest votes),” he added.

Vell Paari also denied that he was voicing his opinions because his father has come under pressure.

“I am not doing this because of him. I always speak my mind. If you check, I was among the first to speak out on (deceased police detainee A) Kugan's case and I had done the same when (DAP MP) Karpal Singh was attacked in Parliament,” he said.

Khairy must explain

Commenting further on Umno's denial of being involved in the “Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu” campaign, Vell Paari pointed out that one of its proponents, sacked CWC member G Kumar Amman, had implicated Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

“I am confused. Rauf said that Umno is not involved, but Kumar (in a news report) claims that Khairy was the one who had 'opened their minds'.

“I want to know what did Khairy open his mind to exactly – to work against MIC and its leaders? I know Khairy well, and I don't think he would have done so,” he added.

Despite this, Vell Paari said, aspersions have been cast on Khairy and the Umno Youth chief must clarify the matter.

The CWC member also conceded that he was taking a big risk by putting all the cards on the table with his caustic statements.

“I can choose to just focus on my business and take things easy, but I am taking the risk for the community. Something must be done.

“Like I said before, a dangerous precedent is taking shape (Umno's intervention in component parties) and this must be stopped. I do not wish to grow old and regret one day that I did not do something when I had the chance,” he said.

'I will exit politics as well'

Vell Paari also disclosed that when his father leaves politics next year, he would also make a slow exit.

“The person who takes over must have a clear hand to run things. If I remain in the party, some would say that Samy Vellu left his son behind to run the show and use this to create rifts,” he said.

Furthermore, Vell Paari said since most of MIC's top leaders were groomed by his father, they might feel uncomfortable in reprimanding him if he commits a mistake.

“I do not wish to put them in such an awkward position. I would remain as an ordinary MIC member and continue my service to the community,” he added.

Free Malaysia Today
25/05/10

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