PETALING JAYA: MIC’s S Vell Paari today cast doubt on former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that money he allocated to the Indian community through the MIC had gone “elsewhere”.
Speaking to FMT, Vell Paari, who is MIC treasurer-general, pointed out that during Mahathir’s 22-year prime ministership and after he resigned in 2003, there were no issues about the funds which were supposedly diverted.
“However, less than 24 hours after Mahathir met Hindraf’s P Waythamoorthy, he now comes out with a statement saying that he allocated funds to MIC but somewhere along the line the funds went elsewhere,” said Vell Paari, the son of former MIC president S Samy Vellu.
Samy Vellu had a stranglehold on the MIC when Mahathir was prime minister and Umno president.
In 1990, the finance ministry allocated RM10 million worth of shares in Telekom Malaysia to the MIC-controlled Maika Holdings which was established to help raise the economic level of the Indian community. However, it was later revealed that only RM1 million had gone to Maika, and the rest had been given to three private companies.
Attempts to reach Samy Vellu today for comment were unsuccessful.
“If it’s true the funds went elsewhere, why didn’t Mahathir take action? Last year, Waythamoorthy himself called Mahathir a dictator,” said Vell Paari.
Surely, he said, Mahathir could have taken action against MIC then.
To Vell Paari, Mahathir’s latest comments only showed he was trying to pit the MIC against the community to ramp up support for Hindraf, which Waythamoorthy leads.
“Hindraf claims it can bring in the votes for Pakatan Harapan. In order for Hindraf to keep its promise to Mahathir, it must attack MIC. That is what this is all about.”
Earlier today, it was reported that Mahathir acknowledged that Indians were poorly served during his 22 years in power but said he allocated plenty of resources for the community through the MIC.
“Somewhere along the line, the allocations went elsewhere,” he said. “But I hope this time around they will get them directly from the government.”
However, Mahathir’s claims were rubbished by MIC deputy president S K Devamany, who said Mahathir gave “a pittance” to Samy Vellu to empower the Indian community.
He said during Mahathir’s time, all government allocations were channelled through the respective ministries and agencies which meant money hardly reached the ground, unlike now, under prime minister Najib Razak.
Najib, said Devamany, cut through red tape and channelled funds directly to the Indian community to empower them, and this included allocations given to NGOs.
Devamany cited the RM300 million given to Tamil schools in 2010, hundreds of millions in loans allocated to the Indian community through agencies and programmes like Tekun and Empowerment of Indian Entrepreneurs (SEED).
“During Mahathir’s time, the Public Works Department controlled the building of Tamil schools, but Najib allows Indian contractors to participate and build the schools.”
He also claimed that Najib had increased the Indian community’s equity ownership from 1.1% to 1.9% since becoming prime minister.
Najib also increased the quota for Indian students in the Malaysian Matriculation Programme and polytechnics.
“So, this is how Najib has directly empowered the community and now he is consolidating this with the Malaysian Indian Blueprint.
“Mahathir never gave the Indians hope. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for the community under Mahathir. But Najib has given us hope because he is inclusive, unlike Mahathir.”
Yesterday, Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan chairman, met Waythamoorthy sparking speculation that the opposition coalition might sign up another member ahead of the next general election.