Samy Vellu Appointed Malaysia's Special Envoy to India

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 13 (IANS) Ethnic Indian politician S. Samy Vellu will be Malaysia's special envoy to promote infrastructure projects in India and four other South Asian nations, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has announced.

The appointment, which carries a ministerial rank, will be effective from Jan 1.

Najib made the announcement Sunday evening during the launch of a biography on Vellu, praising him for his work among the country's 2.1 million Indian community.

Vellu, 74, stepped down after 31 years as president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the country's largest and oldest Indian-based political party.

MIC is part of the ruling alliance Barisan Nasional that is headed by Najib. It has had ministers in all governments since Malaysia became independent in 1957.

Vellu was a long-time minister till he lost the parliamentary elections in 2008.

Praising Vellu, Najib said he "is one of the most colourful politicians in the country's history and it will be difficult to find another like him".

"I am not sure in 1,000 years that we will have another Datuk Seri Samy Vellu. He has a unique style. Whenever he says something, it is not what he says, but how he says it," The Star newspaper Monday quoted the prime minister as saying.

Najib said Samy Vellu had made immense contributions to the development of the party, Indian community and the country.

He saluted Vellu for being a "true Malaysian patriot and Barisan (Nasional) leader", agreeing with new MIC president G. Palanivel that Samy Vellu's contributions were too exhaustive to list.

On the MIC that badly lost the 2008 election, Najib said it was on its way to a full political recovery, and urged party leaders to work hard to strengthen it, work with non-governmental organisations and place party unity above everything else.

In his biography, "A Life. A Legend. A Legacy", written by award-winning Malaysian Indian author Bernice Narayanan, Vellu reveals how he tried in vain to stop the demolition of a Hindu temple in 2007, which the author says sowed the seeds of a revolt against the party.

Vellu says he had pleaded with the "powers-that-be" at that time to stop the demolition of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Padang Jawa, Shah Alam, just three days before Deepavali.

"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 led many Indians into voting against the Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election, the newspaper said.



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