MIC vice president Datuk S. Sothinathan, 49, said Saturday he would contest the deputy president’s post in party polls in September.

He will face incumbent Datuk G. Palanivel, 58, and former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam, 65, who was deputy president for 25 years until he was ousted in 2006.

The former Natural Resources and Environment deputy minister and two term-vice president who had also served as political secretary to party president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu previously, said he had informed his boss of his decision to contest the post.

"I told him that it was time for us to rejuvenate the party and focus on regaining support from the Indian massess, particularly the young.

"I told him that I needed his support to reunite the Indians in MIC," he told reporters here.

Asked if Samy endorsed his candidacy, Sothinathan, who was party secretary general from 2000-2006, said he was told to think about it.

"He told me to think about it carefully. But he did not discourage me...I am sure I will get his blessings.

"I have reached a stage where I need to make a bold decision. I have been in the MIC from the day I graduated from Universiti Malaya. I have served the party for 25 years and I have no intention of doing anything else although there have been offers," said Sothinathan, who obtained a first class honours degree in Economics from UM and is a qualified lawyer.

Sothinathan, a two term Teluk Kemang MP said he was also confident of victory despite being up against Palanivel and Subramaniam.

Asked if he was breaking ranks with Samy Vellu, who had apparently endorsed Palanivel as his choice of deputy, Sothinathan said the party president was not as the party president would always remain his mentor.

"As far as I know, Samy Vellu has not publicly endorsed anyone. I have spoken to several party leaders, non-governmental organisations, friends and individuals and they have all given me their support.

"The last general election has taught us a lot. I have been thinking about this for the past 15 months. We need to rebuild the party...we must do it now.

"I have been hearing a lot about the split in the party...I can't see this anymore," he said.

Asked if he would form a team with those vying for the vice-presidency, Sothinathan, who served as Health Ministryt parliamentary secretray from 2000-20004, said he would not.

Samy Vellu after winning the presidential election uncontested in March, this year, had declared that this would be his last term and whoever picked as deputy president at the party election in September would takeover the leadership of the 630,000-member party after his retirement from active politics.

Sixty Tamil schools will be rebuilt, many with new buildings, under the second phase of the Government’s redevelopment programme, MIC president Datuk Seri S. samy Vellu said.

The schools would be redeveloped under the RM100mil fund allocated by the Government, he said after visiting the partially-burnt Selangor River Tamil school here with Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk S.K. Devamany, on Monday.

Samy Vellu said 72 Tamil schools have already been redeveloped under the first phase.

There are about 525 Tamil schools in the country, with more than 300 schools falling under the partially-aided government schools category.

Samy Vellu said the Public Works Department had recently tendered out the projects for the 62 schools, with work on the schools to commence soon.

On the Selangor River Tamil school, he said RM650,000 has been set aside by the Government to build a new building that would cater for six to seven classrooms.

The three remaining leaders from the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who are being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) will be released soon.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the three were M. Manoharan, P. Uthayakumar and K. Vasantha Kumar.

He added he would sign the documents on Friday.

They are among 13 ISA detainees who are due to be freed, in addition to the 13 who were released in April.

They include six Malaysians, two Indonesians and five Filipinos.

The other three Malaysians are Zulkepli Marzuki, Jeknal Adil and Adzmi Pindatun while the Indonesians are Zainun Rasyhid and Aboud Ghafar Shahril.

The Filipinos as Sufian Salih, Hasim Talib, Abdul Jamal Azahari, Yusof Mohd Salam and Husin Alih.

“They should be released within the next two or three days,” he told reporters on Friday after chairing a post-Cabinet meeting at his ministry.

He added the release of the three Hindraf leaders was not politically motivated.

When he became prime minister in April, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ordered the release of 13 ISA detainees, including Hindraf leaders V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan.

In an immediate response, MIC Youth said it welcomed the decision to release the 13 detainees, including the Hindraf leaders.

Its coordinator T. Mohan said the youth wing hoped that the detention of the five, which he believes led to the Indians throwing their support behind the Opposition in the March 2008 general election, would be forgotten.

“We sincerely hope that the Indians would return en masse to support MIC, the sole Indian representative in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

“Their continued detention was a stumbling block towards MIC reaching out to the Indians,” he claimed.

He said MIC Youth would “go to the ground to publicise the efforts of the Najib government which has been proactive to the needs of the Indian community.”

Speechless with joy
Vasantha Kumar’s wife was speechless when told that her husband would be released soon.

It took a few minutes for K. Vickneswary to finally realise that her husband would soon be home.

“My family’s 17 months of hell is finally coming to an end,” said the mother of two.

Vickneswary said she would prepare Vasantha Kumar’s favourite dishes to welcome him home.

“He loves my cooking and I haven’t been cooking at all since his detention.

“I am going to go back to preparing food for my family, now that he’s finally being returned to us,” said Vickneswary in KLANG.

She said the timing was also perfect as the school holidays were around the corner.

“Our daughters, who are in Primary One and kindergarten, will have the time to catch up with their father,” she added.

She thanked the new administration for releasing her husband and the others from the ISA.

Uthayakumar’s fiancĂ©e S. Indradevi said she was very happy and excited that he would finally be out.

She also thanked the Makkal Sakthi movement which had stood by her and Uthayakumar’s family during their dark days.

Meanwhile, Uthayakumar’s brother and Hindraf chairman Waythamoorthy said he was happy with the release but added that the rest of the ISA detainees must also be released.

“Besides releasing all ISA detainees, the Government must also close down the Kamunting detention centre as well as abolish the ISA.

“This would be indicative that the new prime minister is truly serious about reforming the country,” said Waythamoorthy from London.

Waythamoorthy also added that it was unclear if the Hindraf lawyers were released unconditionally.


MIC Youth welcomes the decision of the government to release the 13 ISA detaines including the remaining three banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders.

We want to thank Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak as well as Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein for the decision to release the detainees.

Hishammuddin said that the leaders – M. Maoharan, P. Uthayakumar and K. Vasantha Kumar – were among 13 who would be freed over the next two to three days. He said that the order for their release would be signed today.

In April, Najib who took over as Prime Minister ordered the release of 13 ISA detainees, including Hindraf leaders V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan.

MIC Youth hopes that the said episode of the detention of the five which led to the Indians throwing their support to the opposition in the March 2008 general elections would be forgotten.

We sincerely hope that the Indians would return en masse to support MIC, the sole Indian representative in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has several times, urged the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release of the five from detention.

The MIC Youth would go to the ground to publicise the efforts of the Najib government which has been proactive to the needs of the Indian community.

Your's Sincerely,

National Coordinator

Penang MIC Youth wing blasted PAS Youth for planning a mass protest this Friday against the recent cabinet ruling that banned conversion of minors without mutual consent of both parents in case of strained conjugal relationship.

The MIC Youth chief M Suresh also slammed Indian members in the PAS non-Muslim club for being "sitting ducks and not being able to raise a finger" against their Muslim colleagues for not protecting non-Muslim rights.

He said the protest planned by PAS Youth after this week’s Friday prayers clearly demonstrated that the party was not for all as propagated by its leaders.

PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar has also slammed last month’s cabinet ruling that children of divorced parents should be raised in the religion at the time of their marriage should one of them convert to another religion.

Suresh was critical that PAS’ brand of politics and religious zeal failed to uphold natural justice and universal concept of human rights.

He accused PAS non-Muslim club members for failing to voice their opinions in favour of the cabinet decision and against the religious fervour of their fanatical party colleagues.

"The Indian supporters of PAS should openly disagree with the stance taken by their Muslim colleagues. They should defend and protect their Hindu dignity and integrity.

"Otherwise, they should repent and seek alternative parties, such as MIC," he said.

He criticised PAS Indian supporters for blindly campaigning for the Islamist party during the general election in March last year.

'PAS is a sectarian party'

Suresh said the protest against the cabinet decision and Mahfuz’s criticism clearly exposed the PAS lie that the party represent all Malaysians regardless of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

"It’s obvious now that PAS is a sectarian party hell bent to protect only one particular ethnic group while forsaking others," he told Malaysiakini today.

The cabinet ruling apparently was a move to alleviate the frustration of affected parents when their children had been converted to another religion without their knowledge and consent.

The latest high-profile incident happened in Ipoh last month when a Muslim convert Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah converted his three underage children to Islam without the knowledge of his estranged Hindu wife M Indira Gandhi.

Last week, the Ipoh High Court granted Indira custody of all her three children pending the full custody hearing on May 12. The older children - Tevi Darsiny, 12, and Karan Dinesh, 11, - were in the care of their mother from the beginning.

The court also ordered that the youngest child, Prasana Diksa, who is in her father's care to be returned to the mother.

The cabinet decision, however, is set to be tested by the highest court of the land if the current laws and enactments are not amended to provide clear interpretation on matters related to such conversion cases, according to those in the legal circles.

A judicial test on the cabinet ruling is already on the cards as Muslim convert Mohd Ridzuan has challenged its decision in court.

"This (cabinet) ruling contradicts the federal constitution, it is illegal and not applicable on Muslims, including myself and my children," the Muslim convert said in a court document filed on April 28 opposing the cabinet order.

The Government has taken the first step towards reviewing the Internal Security Act (ISA) with the formation of a Law Reform Com­mittee.

This is in keeping with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s promise when he took over the helm of the nation that he would initiate a comprehensive review of the ISA.

Among the laws to be considered for review include the Civil Law Act (CLA), Criminal Procedure Code, Penal Code and state laws that are in conflict with the Federal Constitution.

“The ISA is a law that is close to the hearts of many and we will work together with the Home Ministry to amend the relevant parts,” said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong, who heads the committee.

He said the first step would be a briefing session on Wednesday and Thursday involving the Legal Affairs Department and the Legal Aid Bureau.

He said that subsequently the committee – which was formed on April 29 – would engage the Malaysian Bar and other legal associations in the country, as well as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Suhakam.

Liew said existing laws which were confusing or obsolete would b

Four to five more by-elections have been lined up by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before the country goes to the next polls, said a political analyst.

The reshuffling of the PKR leadership, which was announced last Monday, was seen by International Islamic University Malaysia political and international studies dean Prof Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak as a party strategy in preparation for the series of by-elections.

He said Anwar, who is also PKR leader, had shaped a new leadership, which would act as the party’s prime mover to face each of the by-elections he had planned.

“Anwar has decided on the by-elections. He has decided where these should be held, his battle plans and the effects of the by-elections.

“I foresee that before the 13th general election, there will be four to five more by-elections that have already been planned by Anwar.

“Looking at the list of the new party leadership, these are the PKR stars that Anwar will use to ensure the success of his strategy,” Dr Mustafa told mStar Online, The Star’s Bahasa Malaysia news portal.

In the leadership reshuffle, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would act as party spokesman while vice-president Azmin Ali is head of a task force, comprising other vice-presidents and the Youth and Wanita chiefs.

Saifuddin Nasution, the new election campaign director, relinquished his old position as strategic director to Tian Chua.

Dr Mustafa added that Anwar only planned the by-elections in constituencies where he was confident of winning by more than 70%.

Other observers viewed the reshuffle differently, saying this was to overcome internal problems and strengthen the party.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political science lecturer Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Faruq said the restructuring was necessary for the party to overcome internal problems.

Penang PAS is insisting that a PAS candidate be fielded in the coming Penanti by-election.

Its deputy commissioner Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who said this at a press conference here on Sunday, also appealed to its national leaders to review the allocation of seats among members of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition made during the last general election.

“We strongly feel that we should be allowed to contest in Penanti to restore the image of Pakatan Rakyat, which was tarnished following the resignation of Mohamed Fairus Khairuddin as Penanti state assemblyman,” he said.

He said Mohamed Fairus’ resignation, which he claimed was done without any basis, had caused disappointment among grassroots supporters and members.

“We feel that the sudden resignation of Fairus is deemed as an act of betrayal to the trust given by the people.

“The people are also disappointed over Fairus’ resignation as Deputy Chief Minister 1 which they claim was done without due consideration for the importance of the position and carried out according to his own whim and fancy,” he said.

Dr Mujahid said they feared that the trend of resigning without valid reasons would become an unhealthy political culture.

He said Penang PAS would forward its views to its national leaders for consideration when they meet tomorrow, adding that they would abide by any decision on the issue.

He added that PAS would support PKR candidate Mansor Osman who was named to stand in the by-election, should the party decide not to contest in it.

The Perak Barisan Nasional has nominated former Sungkai assemblyman Datuk R. Ganesan to replace Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar.

Writing in his blog speakforperak.blogspot.com, Sivakumar said the motion to nominate Ganesan, 57, was received by the office of the assembly’s secretary on Thursday morning.

Perak MIC secretary Datuk R. Ganesan

The motion, dated April 29, was proposed by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and seconded by senior executive council member Datuk Hamidah Osman, he said.

He added that an acceptance letter from Ganesan, who agreed to be nominated, was also attached with the motion.

A lawyer by training, Ganesan, who is also Perak MIC secretary, was a two-term assemblyman.

He was dropped as a candidate in the 2008 general election.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting attended by Perak Pakatan Rakyat leadership on Thursday evening, Sivakumar had said he had yet to decide whether to reject the motion to remove him, as proposed by Dr Zambry.

It has been reported that Dr Zambry would move a motion to remove Sivakumar on May 7 after the opening of the state assembly’s next meeting by Sultan Azlan Shah.

Notice of the motion to remove Sivakumar was delivered to all elected representatives last week by state assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri.

According to the notice, if the motion is passed, the next agenda would be to appoint a new Speaker.

All assemblymen were also told to propose a candidate’s name and submit it to Abdullah Antong.