Malaysian PM seeks end to 'internal bickering' in Indian party

Najib urged the leaders in the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), which is a component of the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional, to stop the internal bickering and change with the times. He said leadership problems should not let its sap its energy to serve the Indian community.

"Do not fight and destroy MIC, that’s my plea to you. There are 3,000 MIC branches. Ask yourselves what the Indian community wants, how do I become a more effective leader? Internal politics can only destroy MIC," he was quoted as saying by a local daily.
In his opening speech yesterday at the 64th MIC annual general assembly, which was attended by more than 3,000 delegates and observers, the prime minister underlined the need for unity in the party in a bid to strengthen the ruling coalition and serve the minority community.

Najib's call for unity follows recent demands from some members who want 73-year-old Samy Vellu to step down as MIC president immediately as they feel he had not done enough for the minority community during his 31 years at the helm of the party.
Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional chairman, felt that the MIC should work with non-governmental organisations (NGO) also.

“Work with them (NGOs), don’ t exclude them. If I can work with them, why can’t MIC work with them?” he asked.
He said that as a small community of only 7.9 percent, the Indians could not afford to be further divided.

However, he praised the MIC as a faithful partner to Barisan since the country's independence and recognised Vellu’s contributions to the Indian community.
He added that the MIC had to change along with the other Barisan component parties, including the Malay party Umno, to succeed in the next general election.
Vellu said the MIC would continue with its struggle to ensure a better life for the Indian community.

"We will work harder in line with the prime minister’s vision of a stronger MIC," he added.
The MIC president said he appreciated Najib's confidence in the party in representing the Indian community within the Barisan Nasional.
"We will work towards achieving what he expects of us (the MIC), and hopefully by the next MIC general assembly (next year), we would have achieved them," Vellu said.

Najib appealed to MIC supporters not to get carried away by internal differences, including on the basis of the caste system when choosing their leaders.
The leaders should be selected for their credibility and ability, Najib told the assembly here.

"I know of incidences where one person does not want to put the garland on another because of his lower caste," he said.

In the last couple of months, there has been mounting pressure from disgruntled MIC activists for Vellu to step down immediately and let his deputy take over the party.
The 2008 general elections saw the MIC faring miserably with the party winning only three of the nine parliamentary seats it had contested.

Vellu lost his Sungei Siput parliamentary seat which he had held on for four terms.
The MIC president, who has announced he will call it a day on or before September 30 next year, said his leadership era was "tough, testing and challenging".

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