'Group of 23' vs independents


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 06 May 2003

BY A. LETCHUMANAN

KUALA LUMPUR: They are the first to arrive and the last to leave in campaigns conducted by the “Group of 23” for the central working committee (CWC) posts at the MIC elections scheduled for Saturday. 

Challenging them is a motley group of 10 independents facing an uphill battle in convincing the 1,497 delegates to vote for them instead of the 23 who are backed by the leadership. Thirty-three of them are still in the fight for the 23 posts at stake.  

The independents placed agents to distribute their name cards, pamphlets and stickers – displaying their contributions – to delegates arriving for the official campaigns held over the past few days.  

The independents, including a state assemblyman and several professionals, were the first to greet the delegates on arrival and departure, reminding them of the candidate's number, as they leave the hall. 

The “Group of 23” comprising state chairmen, state assemblymen and professionals, mainly incumbents and newcomers lawyer S. Ganesan of Kedah and businessman M. Saravanan of FT have the backing of the three vice-presidents.  

One challenger, S. Karupusammy of Teluk Kemang division, has the number six pinned on his shirt, as he meets the delegates. 

“I feel that they will remember me better and I stand a better chance of making it into the CWC,” the veteran MIC member of 27 years said. 

Another candidate, a former cop turned law and psychology graduate, James Selvaraja admitted that it was a tough battle but was confident that the delegates would make a wise decision. 

“All the 33 candidates are strong supporters of party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu,” he said. 

Selvaraja, who was the former national Youth deputy leader (1994 to 1997), withdrew from the CWC contest in the 2000 party elections but this time had received the blessings of the leadership. 

He said he was grateful to Samy Vellu who had sponsored his legal studies in Britain and wanted an opportunity to repay the kindness and serve the community.  

“I have been in the political wilderness for more than three years but I feel I can contribute further with a position in the party,” he said.  

The only rose among the thorns, G. Vimalah Nair, has jumped into the fray for the first time, having the credentials of holding positions in various Indian-based organisations. 

“I have been a delegate to many MIC conferences and have voiced out on many issues concerning our social problems,” she said.  

Another contender, trader S. Paramasivam, 45, wants to provide his expertise in the financial sector and stock market trading, as no CWC leader now has strength in this area.  

“I want to give a new face and a new concept from the financial sector. There is no need for Indians to be dependent on the traditional businesses when the economy is growing,” he said.  

Deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam's deputy in the Seputeh division, S.V.S. Velu, will also be trying his luck to get into the CWC in his fifth attempt.  

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