KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng led a delegation of his party’s leaders to pay their last respects to former MIC president Tun S. Samy Vellu who died this morning.
At the home of the former minister from the Mahathir administration, Lim and others such as DAP national vice-chairmen Teresa Kok and M. Kulasegaran as well as DAP national organising secretary Steven Sim described Samy Vellu as a politician passionate about the work.
“He always appreciated what we did even though we were on the other side,” Lim said, adding that the former minister was known for disregarding political differences when offering help.
“He never bore personal grudges. Even though we fought ferociously in Parliament, he never kept it in his heart.”
According to Kulasegaran, Samy Vellu had shown the Indian community in the country what was possible with humble beginnings.
“From nothing, he made (for himself) a great life and then came to serve Malaysians,” Kulasegaran said.
Despite their clashes, Kulasegaran agreed with Lim that Samy Vellu never took their political disagreements as enmity.
“One of the beautiful things about him compared with many other Barisan (Nasional) ministers is that if you had a problem in your constituency in relation to his ministry, it didn’t matter.
“He will take up the thing and immediately order his ministry to go and look and see. And then in Parliament he would ask, ‘Kula, has it been done?’”
He also said Samy Vellu had previously encouraged those in the Opposition to keep up their criticism and would occasionally thank them for raising issues that made it easier for him to act.
“He said many times to me, ‘Don’t worry, speak up whenever you can,’” he said.
After she was first elected in 2008, Kok said she had come under attack from rivals in the MCA over a squatter relocation in her constituency for a highway project.
Despite MIC being a partner to MCA, Kok said Samy Vellu still met with her over the matter and eventually helped resolve the issue.
“I’m very grateful to him as I was under tremendous pressure at the time,” she said. “He really didn’t care about party lines. He just thought that he should come in and help me.”
Samy Vellu was one of the more colourful and interesting characters among the ministers at the time, she said, but also had a hands-on approach to his work that made him very familiar with the work of his ministry.
Samy Vellu, one of the country’s longest-serving ministers with 30 years in the Cabinet, died at 7am at his residence here today at the age of 86.