Responding to Tun Mahathir's comment, Samy Vellu describes Tun Mahathir's comments as akin to "telling a young wife that she is beautiful and an asset, but when she becomes old, she is branded a liability"
PUTRAJAYA, Sept 18 — MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu will become a liability to the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the next general election because his leadership has failed, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
The former prime minister said he was worried that the people’s support for the BN would erode and the coalition would be the victim because Samy Vellu was still leading the MIC.
Samy Vellu must step down as party president because he must take responsibility for the party’s failure in the last general election and for his own loss, Dr Mahathir said in an interview with Bernama yesterday.
"If we look at other countries, whenever a leader fails, he resigns. In Japan he commits harakiri. We're not asking him (Samy Vellu) to commit harakiri.
"You (Samy Vellu) have failed to lead the MIC until you yourself lost," he said.
Citing the example of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who resigned after his poor performance, Dr Mahathir said: "Samy Vellu performed worse than Pak Lah (Abdullah) but he did not want to relinquish the post.
"He should have resigned before things got to this stage."
He said he had a right to criticise anyone for the sake of the BN, adding: "I've criticised Pak Lah; who's Samy Vellu that I cannot criticise?"
Dr Mahathir's criticism of Samy Vellu before the MIC elections last week was seen as an attempt to interfere in MIC affairs and had raised the ire of a delegate who suggested that a garland of slippers be placed on his portrait.
Dr Mahathir said leaders must realise that the post they held was not for life.
"This is not directed at Samy Vellu alone because there are others who are like him," he added.
He said he had wanted to resign in 1998 but, because of the economy and the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim issue, had to continue leading the nation until 2003.
"I resigned not when people criticised me. I resigned because I had stayed too long.
"Malaysian leaders still do not understand that when they fail they should resign of their own volition, no need for others to tell them. When you fail, your party fails. You are responsible," he said.
Asked what the BN could do in view of its principle of not interfering in the affairs of component parties, he said that when the matter became a problem for the BN, the coalition would become the victim if it did not intervene.
He said BN leaders must admonish Samy Vellu because as BN leaders they were responsible not only for the performance of their own parties but also that of the BN as a whole.
"If I know that a person will cause the BN to lose, that is already a BN problem, no longer an MIC problem. We cannot keep saying don't interfere. This is a BN affair. Because of him, the BN lost.
"Previously there was no Hindraf. Now there are scores (of pressure groups from the Indian community.) It's him that the people don't want but he still wants to be president," he added
He said leaders who resorted to money, pressure, abuse of power and threats could remain as party presidents but would not win elections.
On Samy Vellu's chosen leaders winning the party elections last week, Dr Mahathir said they could win party elections but would lose in general elections because the people would not support them.
He also criticised Samy Vellu for not playing a role to stop the building of temples without approval despite having promised to do so.
He said Samy Vellu became popular because he (Dr Mahathir) had helped him.
"He wanted to build a university, I persuaded the government to give a RM50 million allocation and I've helped in many more of his projects," he said.
Reflecting on his past duties as prime minister, Dr Mahathir said he had to persuade the Malays to allow the BN to place MIC candidates in Malay-majority areas because no constituency in the country had an Indian majority.
"Besides that, I also strove to get the MIC candidates supported by the Malays. Without support from Umno members and the other Malays, the MIC could not win. So that's my service to the MIC.
"But when the MIC does something that will cause it not to be supported by the Indians, Chinese and Malays, I have to criticise," he said.