Battle lines drawn

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THE battle lines are being drawn in the pending MIC re-election to send a message of no confidence to the present leadership.

This follows the move by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) last Friday to order re-elections for several posts in the party, citing irregularities. Fresh elections must be held for the three vice-presidents’ posts, the Central Working Committee (CWC) and for the Bayan Baru, Bukit Gelugor, Subang, Bandar Baru Kulim, Taiping, Tambun, Sepang and Jasin divisions.

The RoS has also ordered re-elections for the Batu Kawan division deputy chairman’s post, Kota Raja and Tanjung Malim division chairmen’s posts and the Taman Koperasi Polis branch chairman’s post within 30 days.

As party president Datuk Seri G Palanivel is overseas, his deputy Datuk Seri S Subramaniam has been left to contain the fallout from the RoS’ decision.

Subramaniam described it as a very sad and black day in MIC’s history that the party had been dragged into this situation.

However, the RoS’ decision on the Nov 30, 2013 polls was not totally unexpected by party leaders. The Edge Financial Daily also reported that the RoS was expected to make its decision last week.

Subramaniam also announced that the party’s annual general meetings for the various wings and the national body have been postponed until the re-election issues are resolved.

The MIC Youth, Wanita MIC, Putera MIC and Puteri MIC annual general meetings were scheduled for yesterday while the national AGM was scheduled for this weekend.

The de facto head of the re-election movement, Datuk T Mohan, described the RoS’ decision as a victory after a battle lasting almost a year.

However, its progress did not come easily, as the dissidents have been accused of playing caste politics and causing division in the party.

Moreover, the RoS’ decision was made under much pressure, and it gave its verdict after a long delay.

Last Friday, Mohan led a group of about 30 members to the RoS’ headquarters in Putrajaya to seek answers from the director-general (DG) for the delay in acting on complaints about the party election.

However, they were only met by junior RoS staff. Angered by the DG’s refusal to meet them, the group refused to budge and waited until way past the closing time to meet the DG.

The group then learned that RoS had sent officers to the MIC headquarters to deliver the letter informing the party of the registrar’s decision.

MIC secretary-general A Prakash Rao received the letter at the unusual time of 6.30pm, well past office hours. Despite securing the RoS’ decision, Mohan said the battle was far from over.

“We now need to discuss and identify who is responsible for this fiasco. These people need to take responsibility and resign for putting the party in this embarrassing position,” he said.

In this situation, the person being pinpointed is Palanivel himself as the election committee and also the CWC had previously announced that there was nothing wrong with the party polls.

In the re-elections, Mohan will not be contesting for the vice-president’s post which he lost in November 2013. He is expected to throw his support behind Senator Datuk S A Vigneswaran, who was also instrumental in driving the re-election movement.

Mohan is expected to contest for a CWC spot.

The re-election is expected to be hotly contested and those from the re-election movement can expect stiff challenges from leaders aligned to Palanivel.

Several leaders have said that as the field was much smaller now, Palanivel can more easily use his resources to neutralise his critics.

Whatever the outcome, many MIC members realise that while the jostling for positions goes into another round now, the public perception of the party is less favourable.

“The public always sees us fighting for positions and this belief will be enhanced with the current development. We need to show that this fight is justified and show our worth to the public when it’s over.

“All this will be pointless if we fail to convince the public of our relevance and ultimately get the votes in the general election. As a political party, that should be our ultimate goal but many in the party seem to have forgotten [about] it,” said one leader.

The re-election movement’s leaders are aware of this situation; as last Saturday, it held a forum on the party’s direction. One of the conclusions heard at the event was that the party president is to be blamed for the situation MIC is languishing in now.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 8, 2014.