In a speedy response to revelations contained in an interview given by the former MIC chief published in the New Sunday Times, Dr Mahathir said he was 'very unhappy' when Samy kept removing capable leaders such as former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam and the late Tan Sri M. G. Pandithan who had "the potential to take over from him (Samy)."
Dr Mahathir also refuted claims that he played a role in Samy's shocking defeat in the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat in the 2008 General Election.
"In 2008, it is not only Samy who lost but a lot of (other) people (also) lost (in the general election)," he said, adding that "it is not because of me," and cited the leadership of his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as one of the reasons for the poor showing by Barisan Nasional.
"I did not tell the people in Sungai Siput not to vote for Samy, but my criticism of the leadership of Pak Lah (Abdullah) affected the thinking of lots of voters and because of that, they did not support Barisan Nasional and along with it, of course, Samy.
"That was the situation. It is not a question of grudge. It is a question concerning the strength of BN (Barisan Nasional) and its component parties," he told reporters at a press conference here on Monday.
Samy claimed that Dr Mahathir had a personal grudge against him as he (Samy) was the only one who voted against the Indian Progressive Front (IPF) from joining Barisan.
However, Dr Mahathir explained that the proposal to bring in the late Pandithan and IPF into Barisan was to strengthen the Indian community's support for Barisan, but Samy was against it.
"We have to have total agreement in Barisan before we can admit any new party. So, there was nothing I could do about it. As a result, I think MIC became weaker," he said.
When asked about the effects of removing leaders of a certain calibre and following in a political party, Dr Mahathir said this would only bring more harm than good as these people usually left with their supporters.
"Everytime he (Samy) sees somebody who has potential, he makes sure they are removed. When you remove the leader, it is not (that) one person who goes off but he takes away his supporters (as well), and as a result, the MIC shrinks," said Dr Mahathir.
Citing his own experience, Dr Mahathir said he had welcomed leaders such as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzirand Abdullah who had campaigned against him during the days of Semangat 46, and had even appointed them as ministers.
"I want Umno to be strong and I have to accept them, and even gave them positions in the government...you expel them, you also expel their followers and this will weaken the party," he said.
On MIC's position today, Dr Mahathir said it was much stronger now after Samy handed over the party's presidency to his successor, Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, after 31 years.
"Many people are coming back. Some of those who are not happy with Samy are coming back now. I hope MIC will regain its strength in the next general election," he said. - Bernama
Source: The STAR Online Home News Nation Monday April 09, 2012