GE13 WATCH PERAK Former MIC president S Samy Vellu has picked himself up from his 2008 elections fall in Sungai Siput to morph into polls commander behind the scenes to help BN to wrest back the parliamentary seat.
Samy is the Sungai Siput BN chairperson co-ordinating the polls campaign for the parliamentary seat candidate SK Devamany (MIC), Lintang state seat candidate Zolkafly Harun (Umno) and Jalong state seat candidate Liew Yew Aw.
His work day starts at 8.30am arranging the campaign schedule for the candidates and planning the entire campaign strategy and activities for the respective constituencies
However, Samy (right) avoids the routine walkabout sessions of meeting the people on the ground in person.
Instead, he only appears in public for official dinners or nocturnal activities of a political nature.
“I’m here as a BN chairperson, everyday I’m here from morning right up to 9 at the night. So we feel it will be a tough battle but we still have a chance.
Mixed reactions to Samy, MIC
“The walkabout is not my job. My job is to sit down and discuss with them (the candidates), he told Malaysiakini when met in Sungai Siput two days ago.
Two nights ago, he had a noon meeting with the candidates at the Sungai Siput MIC service centre and only attended the dinner hosted by Sungai Siput MCA division that night where he delivered a short speech.
Sungai Siput is one of the most watched parliamentary seats in Perak.
It is a three-way fight as the incumbent Dr Michael Jeyakumar (PSM-PKR) crosses swords with Devamany and Independent SP Nagalingam.
Samy was the MP for Sungai Siput for 30 years, but was felled by Jeyakumar in the 2008 political tsunami by a 1,821 -vote majority.
Before the general election, Samy declared himself a “winnable candidate” if asked to contest again, but Malaysiakini found mixed reactions from the local Indians on Samy and the MIC.
Some did not like the ‘development’ brought by Samy and Devamany, some preferred Jeyakumar’s approach in solving their problems despite lacking government allocations.
Hindraf alone didn’t ‘slay’ Samy
Malaysiakini interviewed some of them two days ago, all requested anonymity as they did not want to invite unnecessary problems from certain parties.
A 54-year-old said that if Devamany (right) is accompanied by Samy in his walkabout sessions, his votes will take a dive.
“He (Samy Vellu) had been here for so long, but spent little time here, ” said the middle-aged man who is a member of a local society.
In his view Samy’s defeat five years ago was not solely because of the Hindraf factor, but local people being ” not happy when seeing the BN”.
However, he said that he will consider voting for BN this time as Devamany had helped his society to get a government allocation.
Similarly a young hawker also harbours negative feelings against Samy and the MIC as they did not help in his applications for educational aid and a business loan.
“He didn’t pay attention to me at all, he only pays attention to those he knows. If he doesn’t know you, he will not notice you,” he said, adding that Samy will not be much of a help for MIC in this polls.
However, on the question of Jeyakumar’s inability to initiate any development as MIC could, should he be re-elected, the 24-year-old said: “He doesn’t have money now, so doesn’t know what to do. But if he has money, then he can do something, right?”
Thumbs up for Jeyakumar
A housewife concurred with him, liking the way Jeyakumar provided a way to solve her problem.
“(MIC) always gave different excuses, sometimes they said they were not free, even sometimes when I reached the service centre, the staff members would tell me that they were not free.
“Although he (Jeyakumar, right in photo) doesn’t give away money, but he will provide us the way to solve the problem,” he said.
Nevertheless, some interviewees still recognised Samy’s past contributions to Sungai Siput.
A 25-year Sungai Siput resident, a firm supporter of Samy still remembers how he received help from the former minister and praised the BR1M programme initiated by caretaker prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
However, he reserves his view on Devamany because when he sought help at his service for a broken arm, he was rejected.
“In any case, Samy will help, but Devamany, I don’t know,” he added.
When asked about the grouses from the ground, Samy’s simple reply was: “no, no criticism”.
He also said that the people had already forgotten his defeat which happened five years ago.
Devamany also refused to comment on this matter, stressing that “nobody is perfect”.
Gov’t machinery spotted
Although the duo are facing Jeyakumar whose resources are relatively smaller than theirs, both described the contest as being a “tough battle”.
And government machinery was spotted in Sungai Siput two days ago in the form of chief secretary to the government, Ali Hamsa, having lunch with public servants from Sungai Siput and Kuala Kangsar.
He then attended an event organised by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry and handed over on its behalf RM300 in financial assistance to each of 30 selected Sungai Siput residents.
Three of the BN candidates were also present at the event.
The same night, the Sungai Siput MCA division organised a dinner for local Chinese, providing a platform for BN candidates to deliver short speeches.
During the event, Sungai Siput Umno division’s chief Zolkafly, donated RM55,000 to a local Chinese primary school to repair its water pipes and another RM10,000 to a local Chinese society to help in the maintenance of its premises.