Remembering Tun Samy Vellu Sangalimuthu

United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO) expresses our sincere condolences to the family of the late Tun Samy Vellu Sangalimuthu and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) for their great loss. He passed away on the eve of the 59th Malaysia Day.

In his thirty years of service as the Minister of Works / Minister of Works and Public Amenities (1979-1983, 1995-2008) and Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts (1989-1995), he had made many differences in infrastructural development and privatisation projects, including the PLUS highway, the Penang Bridge, Telekom, Satellite MEASAT 1, TNB and Pos Malaysia, with both achievements and shortcomings.

Tun Samy Vellu was well-known to respond fast to complaints for issues that touched his heart.

In an episode better known in the Chinese community than others, Tun Samy Vellu responded positively to a group of civil society activists who conducted a brief survey with parliamentarians in Parliament on 19 July 2000, on the proposed relocation of eight cemeteries and crematoriums covering eight Malaysian and foreign communities – Hokkien, Cantonese, Kwong Sai, Catholic, Hindu, Sikh, Sri Lankan Buddhist and Japanese.

He promised to bring this issue – widely seen as a hot potato by his cabinet colleagues – in the 21 July 2000 cabinet meeting. His speaking up led to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s decision to drop the relocation project.

Today, the eight cemeteries and crematoriums remain intact in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, thanks to Tun Samy Vellu’s intervention.

May his soul rest in peace.

*The author is the President of the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO)