In any event, here we are. And, this part that I extracted is most rivetting. The column piece should be read in toto to do it justice for, as the columnist intoned at the end of the piece, I might be inviting a garland of slippers for this, but there is a danger of the MIC ending up as an abbreviation for Megalomaniac In Command if he chooses to stay on to the end of his 11th term. (emphasis mine)
“You have sold your community for a fistful of dollars!”
The thundering voice was that of Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, then, and still, president of the MIC, during a press conference in January 1983 to announce the launch of Maika Holdings.
The initial reaction of shock segued into amusement. In the mind, the image of the party leader who had just taken over the helm of the Indian component party of Barisan Nasional morphed into that of a cowboy – albeit more like Bud Spencer than Clint Eastwood in the old spaghetti Western movies.
The reason for Samy Vellu anger? I had asked a question that I felt was fair: How is Maika going to be any different from the party’s existing business entities like Koperasi Nesa and Koperasi Pekerja Jaya?
“You Indian reporters in The Star are always running down the MIC, you have all sold out your community for a company run by the MCA!” he said.
If I remember correctly, that was the end of the press conference.
As other bewildered reporters and I walked down the steps of the party headquarters, one of the president’s then economic advisers, who has since moved on to champion human rights and other currently politically correct causes, asked me: “Why do you all always belittle the MIC?”
But when asked to name the instances, the economist could not be specific. By then we had reached the end of the stairway and the still incensed party leader, who must have seen us arguing, came rushing forward with some of his aides.
Fortunately, the late Datuk K. Pathmanaban, then a deputy minister and party vice-president, pulled me away and cooled off the situation.