KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel is set to clash with predecessor Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu over the latter’s intention to keep heading the party’s cash-rich education arm by loading more supporters onto the board to overcome dissenting votes.
The Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED), with assets of about RM1 billion, has been chaired by Samy Vellu since it was established in 1984 and will discuss an expansion to its ranks in a board of trustees meeting on March 7.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the senior leadership of MIC is unhappy that MIED will attempt to increase its membership without the central working committee (CWC) of the party first discussing and fine-tuning the proposal.
However, it is understood that MIED trustees can increase the membership of the institute without limit.
It currently has 34 members who have the power to elect the chairman of the 10-man board of trustees.
MIED will hold its general meeting in the middle of this year, the first since Palanivel became MIC president last December.
CWC member Tan Sri Dr KS Nijhar, who is also an MIED trustee, has asked Samy Vellu in an SMS to postpone the board of trustees’ meeting until the move has been approved by the CWC.
The text message, which was copied to all MIED members, has sparked talk of a Samy Vellu-Palanivel power struggle.
The SMS called for the board of trustees meeting to be postponed until the CWC had decided on the names to be recommended to the MIED.
“As we all know, MIED is an MIC-Owned-Public-Company-Limited-By-Guarantee and not owned by the Trustees.
“We are Trustees acting for MIC and as such, we should not, directly or indirectly, act in any manner that can be seen to shift control of MIED from MIC-CWC to the Members and/or to the Trustees,” the SMS read.
He also expressed fears that if MIED were allowed to go ahead, “MIC may lose its biggest asset in its history to some unscrupulous people who may have no sentiments whatsoever for MIC and its objectives.”
“As MIC’s Trustees, we are solemn-bound to act to perpetuate MIC’s ownership and control over MIED and not dissipate it and let it be hijacked away,” he added.
However, when reached by The Malaysian Insider, Nijhar refused to comment further on his text message.
“What is the need to increase MIED’s membership? There are already 10 trustees, a total that is sufficient, and that goes for the number of members as well,” a senior leader told The Malaysian Insider.
It is understood that this is the first time a trustee has objected to such a proposal.
Besides Samy Vellu, other trustees include Palanivel, Nijhar, Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu, Tan Sri G. Vadiveloo, Datuk S. Veerasingam, Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, Datuk M. Saravanan, Datuk T. Rajagopalu and Datuk KS Balakrishnan.
“This development is a sign that there will be a power struggle between the former and current president seeing as Samy Vellu already feels Palanivel has been reversing his decisions one by one,” said KP Samy, a CWC member who was sacked by Samy Vellu last year.
Palanivel has reshuffled the party leadership, including reinstating S. Murugessan as secretary-general after he was removed from the post last year when he criticised Samy Vellu for expelling members who had campaigned to force the long-serving leader to end his 31 years as party president.
At the end of 2009, former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam had issued a warning not to move MIED out of MIC and turn it into a foundation.
He had said that MIED and the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) University that it controls are educational institutions that belong to MIC and should not be re-designated as independent foundations.
However, when MIED first established the university in 1996, Samy Vellu had insisted that MIC had nothing to do with MIED or the varsity as he had established them in his personal capacity.
He had said his being MIC president at the time did not mean the two assets belonged to the party.
KP Samy also added this issue first surfaced in 2009 but said he hoped that MIED remained under the control of MIC, which would have to decide on the chairman of the board of trustees and any new members.
“Nijhar’s actions are right because we don’t want to see MIED taken away from MIC and the Indian community,” he added.