Only woman to do fierce battle with Samy Vellu not proud of what she did

Samy Vellu was a fatherly figure to Chitrakala Vasu when they worked together for 14 years. (Chitrakala Vasu pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: In 2008, high-flying Malaysian Indian education supremo P Chitrakala Vasu was accused of caste politics.Ads by 

The accusation, according to Chitrakala, came from then MIC president S Samy Vellu after he failed to retain the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat in the general election.

She claimed the defeat made Samy Vellu insecure and that he began to see enemies, including her, everywhere.

It was the start of Chitrakala becoming the only woman to publicly battle with him in the political arena.

Samy Vellu and Chitrakala Vasu were a formidable pair in Malaysian Indian education affairs until their relationship turned sour. (Chitrakala Vasu pic)

Chitrakala told FMT she had never been a politician and that the assertion of her involvement in caste politics was the beginning of her venomous spat with Samy Vellu.

The high-profile bitter row was one of the most intense during Samy Vellu’s three decades as president. It almost tore apart MIC.

The feud revolved around shady dealings involving Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED) and the colleges it operated.

Another hot-button issue was the cost overruns in the construction of the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) campus in Kedah.

Samy Vellu and Chitrakala traded allegations as to who was responsible for the RM4 million MIED funds that went missing.

The veteran politician took the stand in court as a witness for the first time in a case of financial impropriety involving Chitrakala, his one-time confidante.

She was acquitted and discharged of embezzling RM4 million when she was CEO of MIED, the MIC’s educational arm. The money was recovered in full.

Chitrakala even sued Samy Vellu for defamation but withdrew the case later.

Samy Vellu at Chitrakala’s wedding in Ipoh in 1996. On the left is former MIC stalwart M Mahalingam. (Chitrakala Vasu pic)

“I am not proud of what transpired between him and me as it was survival of the fittest,” she said.

Chitrakala said she was also not proud that she was the only woman to put Samy Vellu on the stand in court. “Going public was my best protection.”

She said she had not seen Samy Vellu since her case ended in 2011, but was at his house yesterday to pay her last respects.

In paying tribute to Samy Vellu who died yesterday, she said: “He was a fatherly figure to me and my mentor in the 14 years I had worked with him.

Chitrakala, now 51, is not proud of what transpired between her and Samy Vellu. (Chitrakala Vasu pic)

“It would be very difficult to find characters like him in this generation,” said Chitrakala, 51, who is now with Hong Leong Group.

She said that when she returned home from England as a chartered accountant and started work with MIED in 1995, she had a cultural shock working with MIC, but learned leadership qualities from Samy Vellu.

“I was a reserved person and almost every day, he would tell me to face challenges with courage,” she said.

Chitrakala first met Samy Vellu as an 11-year-old pupil of Sangeetha Sabah Tamil School in Ipoh when he officiated a ceremony to honour her and others who had done well in their standard five national examinations.

In 1991, Samy Vellu organised funds for her to pursue accountancy in England, and four years later, he offered her the top job at MIED after a chance meeting at the airport.

“He taught me well, inspiring me since the age of 11 and giving me a huge opportunity to serve the people,” she said.

In a show of gratitude, Chitrakala also helmed a book project, “Samy Vellu, As We Know Him”, which has 97 stories that capture the essence of the leader.

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