KUALA KUBU BARU: MIC information chief P. Kamalanathan is Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the April 25 Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election. The “eleventh hour” candidate was chosen following a compromise between MIC and the Barisan leadership.
Barisan deputy chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, when announcing the coalition’s choice, admitted that arriving at the decision was the hardest when compared with previous by-elections.
“I could hardly sleep for two consecutive nights thinking about the matter,” he told a crowd that had gathered at the Barisan command centre in Bukit Sentosa, Bukit Beruntung near here, to hear the announcement yesterday.
Muhyiddin said, although Kamalanathan was one of several leaders whom Barisan had considered, he was originally not “high on the list”.
“But what is important is that we give what the people want — and they want change,” he added.
It is understood that until yesterday morning, it was not decided as to who was to be Barisan’s candidate.
MIC had insisted that Datuk G. Palanivel be picked. The MIC deputy president was Hulu Selangor MP for four terms until he lost to Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad in the 2008 general election.
The seat fell vacant when Dr Zainal Abidin died on March 25.
Many, including local leaders, did not favour Palanivel as the findings of a survey carried out among the electorates showed that they wanted a fresh face.
Muhyiddin met MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu early yesterday morning to discuss the issue.
Sources, however, said the final decision was only made hours later — after MIC agreed to a compromise.
The Barisan leadership had earlier been in favour of MIC deputy chief V. Mugilan but Samy Vellu vehemently objected, saying Mugilan had betrayed the interest of MIC.
Palanivel was not present at yesterday’s event and Muhyiddin said he understood why.
“It is only natural for him to be upset. But I am sure, he will be with us soon, campaigning for Barisan,” he added.
Muhyiddin also urged all parties to refrain from thinking in terms of their respective parties.
“From now on we must think only as Barisan members and promote the dacing logo,” he added.
“We must work hard as one.”
Samy Vellu made a similar call, saying everyone should focus their energy on ensuring that Barisan wrested the seat from PKR.
He said he accepted Barisan’s decision with an open heart.
“Kamalanathan is an eligible candidate as he is highly qualified and fluent in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil.
“He has also been involved in many social activities and community work for many years and this will give him an opportunity to serve the people well,” he added.
Samy Vellu also gave the assurance that there would be no problem from local MIC branches which had threatened to close operation centres if Palanivel was not picked.
“MIC branches will work hard so long as the candidate is from MIC,” he said, adding that the party had not learnt the “art” of closing operation down centres yet.
Nominations will be held in Kuala Kubu Baru on Saturday.