CAMERON HIGHLANDS – MIC president G Palanivel’s purported decision to contest in Cameron Highlands – one of only three seats which MIC managed to win in the 2008 general election – is not going down well with party members.
Palanivel, who has been “seatless” since his loss in 2008, has been scouring the country looking for a safe place to contest and has now allegedly settled for Cameron Highlands where Umno is “supportive” of him.
Palanivel was a four-term MP for Hulu Selangor until he was defeated in the 2008 general election by an opposition PKR member. He lost by a mere 198 votes.
In May 2010, Umno decided not to field Palanivel in the Hulu Selangor by-election and appeased him with a senatorship.
He was later appointed as MIC president replacing S Samy Vellu in December 2010 and made a minister a year later.
Since then, Palanivel has made frequent visits to parliamentary constituencies in Sungai Siput (Perak), Padang Serai (Kedah), Teluk Kemang (Negeri Sembilan), Kuala Langat (Selangor) and Cameron Highlands (Pahang) to assess his chances.
It appears he has now decided to try his luck in Cameron Highlands, where the surrounding hills are supposedly good “feng shui” for him.
But the decision has riled local MIC grassroots leaders who alleged that Devamany was a “hardworking” man and that it was “unfair” of the party chairman to usurp him.
Not fair to Devamany
Said a MIC source in Tanah Rata who declined to be named: “As a party president, Palanivel has every right to contest in the general election.
“But, it is unfair of him to encroach into Devamany’s constituency. It is not right.
“As a party chairman, Palanivel shouldn’t undercut Devamany and enjoy the benefits from his hardwork,” said the source.
He said that if Palanivel remained adamant about contesting in Cameron Highlands, then it simply showed that the MIC chief is an opportunist who “wants an easy win seat”.
“It also shows he will do anything to win the election,” he said.
More importantly, he said fielding Palanivel would be a “political suicide for BN” and the ruling coalition will lose the seat.
But Palanivel, it appears, is less concerned about the views of his own party members, preferring to believe that he can ride on Umno’s clout in Cameron Highlands.
Said a Umno leader recently: “I met Palanivel in Jelai last Saturday. This is third time I’ve met him in Cameron Highlands in one month.
“It is obvious he is keen to contest in Cameron Highlands.”
Umno stoking rift
The leader, who requested anonymity, said Palanivel often visited Jelai – which is a state seat within the Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency – and held meetings with Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.
Wan Rosdy is Cameron Highlands Umno division chief and Jelai assemblyman.
“Wan Rosdy wants Devamany out from Cameron Highlands. They [Wan Rosdy and Palanivel] have been conspiring to get rid of Devamany for a long time now,” claimed the leader.
According to him, even the Village Development and Security committees (JKKK) in Jelai know that Wan Rosdy is the alleged cause of the rift between Palanivel and Devamany.
“Instead of Palanivel protecting his vice-president Devamany, the former plots with the Wan Rosdy to finish off Devamany.
“It is morally wrong and politically incorrect to treat election as an avenue to settle personal feuds.
“It is outrageous and an insult to the political intelligence of the voters in those constituencies,” said the Umno leader, who also claimed himself to be a political observer.
Meanwhile, a prominent leader from the Klang Valley has also slammed Palanivel’s alleged decision to contest in Cameron Highlands.
“When he was recently asked where he would contest, Palanivel said he had identified three places to contest, but had yet to decide which seat.
“The irony is that Palanivel says one thing and does another,” said the leader, who declined to be named.
Umno is ‘controlling’ MIC
He was of the view that Palanivel as the MIC president and Selangor state chief should be contesting in tougher MIC seats like Kota Raja, Kapar or Subang.
“Palanivel now frequently visits Cameron Highlands and throws money to buy votes.
“I don’t see any strong points over his move to Cameron Highlands. Of course, Devamany is not an excellent leader but he is definitely better than Palanivel,” he said.
He also said that if Palanivel declared his candidacy in Cameron Highlands, then it would be “crystal clear” that Umno is “controlling” MIC.
He pointed out that this was “established” during the Hulu Selangor by-election when Palanivel was dropped, at the last minute, in favour of an Umno-favoured MIC candidate.
“Remember, PKR has more Indian MPs than MIC. And if Palanivel goes on to backstab his own man, in the next round, MIC will probably be decimated,” he warned. -FMT - B Nantha Kumar