Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Samy Vellu has announced his decision to step down this month-end and take up his new assignment as business envoy for five countries — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives
Vellu will bid farewell to his party colleagues when he chairs the last meeting of the supreme council, ending a 31-year tenure as head of the country’s largest Indian-based party.
His deputy Senator G. Palanivel will take over from him as the MIC chief, Vellu told Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak last week-end, New Straits Times said Monday.
“Samy Vellu told us that Senator Datuk G. Palanivel who would be taking over as MIC acting president would represent the party in future BN (Barisan Nasional) supreme council meetings,” the newspaper said quoting an unnamed source.
The Star reported Monday Samy Vellu is expected to start his new job as special envoy for infrastructure for India and neighbouring countries on 1 December. The job comes with ministerial status and perks.
Multi-racial Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils settled during the British era. They have traditionally voted for the MIC.
MIC is part of the ruling alliance, Barisan Nasional (BN) of which Najib is the chief.
Najib, who is widely believed to be preparing to advance the parliamentary election and hold them some time next year, had earlier persuaded Vellu to step down as MIC chief.
Vellu is to be given a farewell dinner 14 December, likely to be attended by the prime minister, The Star said.
Media reports have not detailed the task Vellu would be performing in his new assignment.
During his 31 year stint at the helm of the MIC, the party has developed a business arm and an education arm.
Vellu is a familiar figure among the Indian diaspora and usually leads large delegations to the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the annual meet taking place in India.
Pressure had been mounting on him to step down as the MIC president especially after the formation of the anti-Samy Vellu movement by former MIC Youth deputy chief V. Mugilan in May, New Straits Times said.
Vellu had taken over the helm of the party as acting president 13 September, 1979, following the death of Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam.
Vellu lost his bid at re-election to parliament in 2008 when the ethnic Indian vote drifted away to the opposition.
Vellu, who won unopposed to become MIC president in September last year for the record 11th term, said his resignation before the completion of his term would give his successor a chance to take over the presidency and give him ample time to prepare for the next general election.