MIC deputy president hopeful Datuk S. Sothinathan has burnt his bridges with party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

The former vice-president, who fell out of favour with the party supremo, said he did not need the latter's help in his bid for the No. 2 post.

"What is important is not the acceptance of one man but that of the thousands of members. The support of the majority should be the criterion, not just that of one man."

Sothinathan said he had been accepted by the grassroots "and that's what true leadership is all about".

He said Samy Vellu should not impose his personal wishes on delegates but should rather respect their wishes as to whom they wanted to represent them.

Sothinathan, a one-time Samy Vellu favourite whom many thought would go on to the top post in the party, got on the wrong side of the party chief when he ignored his advice not to contest the deputy president's post in party polls on Sept 12.

The contest will see a three-cornered fight between incumbent Datuk G. Palanivel, former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam and Sothinathan.

Sothinathan denied that he was a "one-man show" and that he would go it alone after the elections and would not work with other leaders.

"Whoever wins will have to form a team and work together with others. That is the only way to preserve the party and avoid division."

On Samy Vellu's claims that he had vilified his opponents, Sothinathan said that was not his style.

"When I see delegates, I do not bother about whom they are aligned to.

"I tell them what I want to do, my aspirations and visions. I don't speak about any particular individual and I don't want to do that to rise in politics."

He said Samy Vellu should stay above the fight for the deputy presidency and let the three contenders thrash it out among themselves.

"After all, it is the contest for the deputy presidency. I don't know why he is taking it upon himself to get into the fray."

He reiterated that he was not planted by Samy Vellu to split Subramaniam's votes.

"No one can plant or buy me. I have my own independent path. These are campaigns from the opposite camp to confuse delegates."

Samy Vellu had said on Thursday that he was severing ties with Sothinathan and would not accept him back for going against his wishes in contesting for the No. 2 post.

But based on the past, it may only be a matter of time before Samy Vellu does take him back as he did with former Youth leader S.A. Vigneswaran and Negri Sembilan leader Datuk M. Muthupalaniappan.

The MIC supremo has not endorsed him for the party’s No. 2 post, yet vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan is confident that his track record and the delegates’ desire for change will spur his chances of winning in the Sept 12 party polls.

“I don’t believe in such endorsements. I think it is better to be endorsed by the delegates.

“It is better to go (campaign) on one’s merit and strength,” he told The Star.

He feels his “good track record” as party secretary-general for six years and vice-president since 2006 will stand him in good stead with the delegates at the general assembly.

Sothinathan, 49, also believes that the desire for change and his “relative” youth would prompt delegates to cast their votes in his favour.

“I’m mature enough politically, have the necessary experience, and am young enough to have the energy needed to serve the community and take it forward,” he said.

Sothinathan, who filed his nomination papers for the deputy president’s post, is up against incumbent Datuk G. Palanivel and former long-term deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam.

Party president for 28 years, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who won the president’s post uncontested in April, has endorsed Palanivel for the No. 2 post.

Sothinathan said the delegates’ feedback on his nationwide campaign since May 31 showed that they wanted to make independent decisions instead of being “guided” by such endorsements.

“Endorsements (by party president) are (a practice) of the past; the present is different,” he said, adding that strong winds of change were blowing, as reflected in last year’s general election.

Sothinathan said that, far from being upset, the lack of endorsement by Samy Vellu had spurred him to be independent.

While he was quick to express his gratitude to Samy Vellu for his endorsements in the past, he pointed out that the current political scenario had nudged him out of his comfort zone.

“Our greatest challenge now is the younger generation who have a different mindset, an anti-establishment (way of) thinking. They want leaders who will speak up for their rights,” said the father of three teenagers.

The economics and law graduate has pledged to have a 10-year economic plan drawn up, complete with blueprint for education, employment and business opportunities to increase the Indian equity from the current 1.1% to 3%.

“The Indian community is lagging behind all the other communities and needs more help. I hope to deliver,” he said.

Despite the sharpening racial debate in the country, the Najib Administration’s move to push 1 Malaysia to unify its 27 million citizens of various ethnicity has received a boost with the Cabinet’s agreement to drop “race” from most official forms and documents.

It is understood that Malaysians can opt out of stating race in official forms and documents that still have such a requirement. The category has been in all forms since the country achieved Merdeka in 1957.

“The Cabinet made the decision in early August,” a government official familiar with the move told The Malaysian Insider.

He said the civil service is now working to eliminate the category in all new forms and documents being printed.

However, it is understood that some forms will continue to have the category in relation to special privileges for Bumiputras.

In an immediate reaction, Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan welcomed the decision as a Merdeka gift for the country’s 52nd independence anniversary.

“That’s great news. We are all Malaysians from Perlis to Sabah so putting race is divisive,” Nur Jazlan told The Malaysian Insider.

The two-term MP also hoped the civil service will implement prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1 Malaysia efficiently and effectively.

“The concept is the basis of how our country started in 1957 with the Alliance in power and then Barisan Nasional. We need to narrow our differences and widen our common characteristics,” he added.

Many activists and non-governmental organisations have long called for an abolition of the category, calling it archaic and divisive in multi-racial Malaysia.

The latest to take up the call was International Trade and Industry deputy minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir who agreed that Malaysians should not be required to state their race in most official forms and documents.

He said in Penang on Aug 9 that it was unnecessary except for certain forms relating to the special privileges of Bumiputras,

“I would highly encourage that such columns for race be removed. This is in line with the 1Malaysia concept,” Mukhriz said.

MIC Youth coordinator T. Mohan won the MIC Youth chief post, defeating his opponent S.P. Muthu Velloo after garnering 321 votes to Muthu Velloo's 148 in the party's polls today.

Meanwhile, Datin Paduka P. Komala Devi retained her position as Wanita MIC chief when she won by a 26-vote majority in a straight fight against her deputy S. Thangesvari.

Komala Devi obtained 238 votes while Thangesvari received 212.

The results were announced by MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu at Dewan Merdeka in the Putra World Trade Centre here at 6.10pm.

The MIC Youth deputy chief position was won by Youth political bureau chief V. Mugilan who garnered 266 votes while his opponent R. Vidyananthan, who is the Kahang assemblyman in Johor, obtained 204 votes.

The Wanita deputy chief post went to Dr C.V. Prema from Perak who obtained 279 votes. She defeated Negri Sembilan Wanita MIC chief Dr P. Thanaletchumi who only managed 172 votes.

Both wings also voted 12 people into the National Youth Council and 35 delegates to the MIC general assembly and two people for posts in the central working committee. — Bernama