After staying at the helm for over three decades in MIC, party president S Samy Vellu has decided to make way for his deputy for leadership of the country's largest ethnic Indian political party.
Vellu said he will step down as leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) in January 2011 to make way for his deputy Senator Datuk G Palanivel.
"Today, I'm officially announcing my decision to step down and pass the leadership to my deputy in January next year," 73-year-old Samy Vellu told reporters after chairing the party's Central Working Committee in Kuala Lumpur.
He said that the specific date when he would hand over power to Palanivel would be announced later.
"I don't want to wait until the end of my term on March 8, 2012. This will give an opportunity for a renewal of the party. The new leadership can chart their own plans and work for the betterment of the Indian community," he said.
He also said that there will not be a presidential election and Palanivel would become the acting president, in line with the party's constitution.
"The election is only due if I step down one or two months before the end of my term as president," he said.
He also said that he would not interfere in the affairs of the MIC after he steps down and would concentrate on "bringing about a better relationship between Malaysia and India in terms of infrastructure projects."
Vallu said that India had recently offered many opportunities for infrastructure projects but Malaysian companies had been slow in bidding for the projects.
"I am prepared to help Malaysian companies get projects in India," he said.
Samy Vellu, 74, came to the party's helm in 1979 after his predecessor V Manickavasagam died and has held the position for 11 consecutive terms.
He was the Works Minister of Malaysia and the longest-serving minister in the Cabinet until he lost his Sungei Siput parliamentary seat in the 2008 general elections in which the MIC also lost six of the nine parliamentary seats it had contested.
The biggest blow to Samy Vellu's popularity came with the strengthening of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), an NGO, which has since been banned by the government.
During a rally organised by the Hindraf in November 2007, more than 20,000 ethnic Indian gathered in Kuala Lumpur to protest against alleged marginalisation of the minority community by the government.
MIC is an important component of the ruling coalition of the Barisan Nasional Party.