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Sunday March 9, 2008

Not so happy birthday for Samy

IT WAS supposed to be a grand 72nd birthday celebration for MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu with several birthday cakes all ready at the grandiose Sungai Siput Convention Hall here yesterday.  

Party supporters had also brought garlands for the dual celebration of him winning the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat as well. 

But the celebrations had to be aborted. Samy Vellu, contesting for the ninth term in the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat, crashed to a shock defeat to PKR’s Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj. 

Sungai Siput had been in the hands of the MIC since the days of Tun V.T. Sambanthan (1959 to 1974) before Samy Vellu took over.  

Not his day: Samy Vellu casting his ballot in Sungai Siput yesterday. On the right is the Sungai Siput returning officer Mad Dan Hassan.
There were no signs of him being in danger of losing as there had been crowds at the various dinners for the Malay, Chinese and Indian electorate in Sungai Siput over the 13-day campaign period.  

Even on the penultimate Friday night, more than 2,000 Malay and Indian women packed the hall to celebrate International Women’s Day celebrations as well as Samy Vellu’s birthday, while at Man Tak Hall, 1,000 Chinese women attended another dinner.  

It was thus shocking to see the shift in Indian, Chinese and Malay votes from Samy Vellu, who had transformed rustic Sungai Siput into a bustling town with amenities and infrastructure comparable to an urban city.  

It is believed that some of the local politicians had been overly confident and had not pulled their weight to garner support for Samy Vellu.  

“Support from traditionally loyal groups, including the orang asli, did not materialise, while in some cases, the local leaders failed to do any work,” an MIC official said.  

After seeing the crowds on Friday night, Samy Vellu, who has been the MIC president since 1979, was upbeat on his chances of securing a win over Dr Jeyakumar and independent Nor Rizan Oon.  

After prayers at the Sri Kaliamman Temple in Kanthan, Samy Vellu arrived at the Barisan Nasional office in Taman Tun Sambanthan where the state Public Works Department had prepared a cake for him.  

After casting his vote at the Methodist secondary school, he went on a tour of various polling centres.  

It has always been the practice for Samy Vellu to tabulate the votes from the various polling centres.  

The first unofficial results, from Karai, came in with the predominantly Indian electorate there throwing their support behind Dr Jeyakumar.  

Then indications surfaced of it being a close fight when other results started coming in.  

At about 7.45pm, there was further gloom following whispers that the opposition candidate was in the lead with the Malay and orang asli votes yet to be counted.  

But no one thought Samy Vellu would lose; they were confident that he would pull through with a slim majority.  

As losses in the other seats the MIC contested in filtered through, it became clear that Samy Vellu was staring at defeat for the first time.  

Some of the supporters openly cried while others were shell-shocked when it was finally confirmed that Samy Vellu, their MP for 34 years, had conceded defeat.  


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