Former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu fields the 10 questions posed by our readers.
1. How do you handle criticism that is directed at you and deal with controversial situations? What is your take on positive thinking? Priyalatha Govindasamy, Selangor
I am a Dale Carnegiean (referring to the famous American author Dale Carnegie) and I attended his training sessions some 40 years ago which have “implanted” positive thinking in me. I always think positively and constructively. In life, one must only think of the positive things, and things will work out the way you want them to. About criticisms, I have learnt how to manage them. As a politician, I had learnt to accept criticisms as part of my career. Sometimes, when someone criticises you, evaluate the contents and improve yourself.
2. You have held several Cabinet positions, which include Local Government and Housing Deputy Minister, Works Minister, and Energy, Telecommunications and Posts Minister. Which ministerial position did you find the most challenging and most rewarding? Why? Tabitha CC Boi, Penang
I feel that the Works (Ministry) portfolio was the most challenging as I felt I had done my best in ensuring the upgrading of the country's infrastructure. Today, we have first-class infrastructures in terms of roads and highways. Our contractors are being sought by other countries for their expertise. Of course, when I was the Energy, Telecommunications and Post Minister, I had the opportunity to initiate and witness the launch of our first satellite, not to mention approving telecommunication licences. Millions of Malaysians are communicating with each other now via mobile phones because of the infrastructures we built then. You actually need a “cool head” to deal with innovations, and not shut your mind.
3. Aside from the recent appointment as the Special Envoy Minister to India and South Asia on Infrastructure, how do you plan on spending your retirement? Do you harbour hopes of re-entering party politics? Lim Yit Peng, Johor
I have no desire to be active in politics again. I have contributed enough to the country's political landscape, and it is time for me to retire. I don't intend to relax as the word has never been in my dictionary. I like to work and keep going. I'm like a diesel-powered engine. As a special envoy on infrastructure, I believe I can put to better use my experience and expertise for the benefit of the country. I love this country, and I am honoured for being given this chance.
4. You have served in MIC over three decades and accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge. If you could offer one advice to your younger self as a budding politician, what would it be? Ridzuan Yusof, Terengganu
Be the man of the people. Be yourself and serve the community. You don't have to be a politician to do that. Every human being is born to serve others in times of need. Politics is the art of winning over the people's minds and hearts. Work on how you could do this. Help them when they need your help. Do not take them for granted. Learn to respect them.
5. In all honesty and in your MIC tenure between 1979 and now, do you believe that race relations in the country have improved after the racial riots experienced in 1969? Samantha Gomez, Petaling Jaya
The May 1969 episode is a nightmare that should be erased from everyone's mind. It should not have happened, but it did, and we have to live with it. We have many lessons to learn from it. Let us build a united society and look forward. I do believe that race relations have improved over the last 53 years. People have come to realise that they must respect one another and live together. But more needs to be done. I believe we are on the right track.
6. How would you like to be remembered by Malaysians, particularly the Indian community? What would you like to be most remembered for? Idzan Ismail, Kelana Jaya
I want to be remembered as a person who cared and listened to the people's problems. I like to say that I am a person “on call” and people can contact me anytime. I have a lot of respect and love for the people.
7. Would you consider yourself a doting grandfather? How do you spend time with your grandchildren? Malar S, KL
I love my grand children a lot. I see them three times a week. I spend time with them and buy for them their favourite foods. They are close to me and I attend to their needs. They are growing up very fast, and I feel so happy seeing them grow and become more mature. I now have more time to spend with them.
8. Now that you have retired from MIC, what is the one thing you were not able to do as the chief that you would attempt to do? Bulbir Singh, Seremban
The one thing which I could not do then and even now is to satisfy everyone. This is extremely impossible. I am sure that no one can achieve this feat, i.e. to satisfy everyone. I tried but there was always dissatisfaction around.
9. You seem to have impeccable taste, especially in the suits you own. Do you own any collections and what would they be (i.e. watches, cars, etc)? Chin Chee Yong, KL
I like to dress smartly and neatly. It is a reflection of yourself and what the people think of you. First impressions are very important. I always feel that personality is very important if one is to go far. Yes, I have a collection of Brioni (Italian) suits and Cartier watches.
10. Would you consider yourself spiritual? Do you use religion to anchor you in tough times and get you through challenges? Mohd Kamal Yunus, Perlis
I always believe that the ultimate power is God. I am a firm believer that God will find the path for you. My success is due to my belief in God and that we are all answerable to Him.
Coming soon TAN SRI HASMY AGAM is chairman of Suhakam, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. He is also the executive chairman of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations under the Foreign Ministry. He started his career as a young diplomat posted to Saigon, Vietnam, in 1969. He was subsequently promoted to senior positions in Washington, London, Libya and Paris. Hasmy has also served as Malaysia's permanent representative to the United Nations between 1998 and 2003. Do you have a burning question? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
TAN SRI HASMY AGAM is chairman of Suhakam, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. He is also the executive chairman of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations under the Foreign Ministry. He started his career as a young diplomat posted to Saigon, Vietnam, in 1969. He was subsequently promoted to senior positions in Washington, London, Libya and Paris. Hasmy has also served as Malaysia's permanent representative to the United Nations between 1998 and 2003. Do you have a burning question? Email your question to email@example.com
Did you find this article insightful?