In a "tell-all" biography, former president of Malaysia's largest ethnic Indian political party, Samy Vellu, has said he tried in vain to stop the demolition of a Hindu temple in 2007, which the author describes sowed the seeds of a revolt against the party.
'A Life. A Legend. A Legacy' written by author Bernice Narayanan, talks about the 74-year-old former Malaysian Indian Congress Chief's greatest achievements and setbacks as well as "behind-the-scenes" events in his almost 50 years of active politics.
Vellu handed over the reins to his deputy last week after heading MIC for over three decades. The biography, which was launched by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak here today says how Samy Vellu had pleaded with the "powers that be" at that time to stop the demolition of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Padang Jawa, in the Shah Alam neighbourhood near here, just three days before Deepavali, state-run Bernama news agency reported.
"That incident paved the way for an uprising of the Indian community," the author said in the book, referring to the now banned Hindraf movement, which some political observers believe had led to many Indians voting against the Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election.
Vellu also explained the controversial Maika Holdings Berhad, the MIC's investment arm which became unsuccessful many years after its launch, and has since been taken over by another company with shareholders getting back their investment. He said among his greatest achievements were the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (Aimst) in Kedah and the Tafe College in the state of Negeri Sembilan. The 200-page book traces the remarkable journey of Vellu, who rose through the years from being a rubber tapper's son and who started work as an ice cream seller and, later, bus conductor, to Malaysia's longest serving Cabinet minister until his election defeat in 2008.
With every story of his life told in graphic detail, many never-before published pictures of the 74-year-old "legend" with kings, presidents and prime ministers adorn the book. "Samy Vellu is MIC and MIC is Samy Vellu. There's no running away from this. He has no hidden agenda, no cloak-and-dagger political manoeuvres and certainly no masquerades. His life is an open book. This is the book," the author writes in the concluding paragraphs of the book.
Meanwhile, in his speech at the launching of the book, Vellu said he was proud of achieving what he had set out to do when he took over the MIC leadership from the late V Manickavasagam in 1979. "Today, I am happy to see a more vibrant and dynamic community of Malaysian Indians who have carved a name for themselves and the nation.
I am glad to have been part of the great transformation of the Malaysian Indian community. "I am confident that they will continue to move forward as the country progresses, and achieve Vision 2020," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.