Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's largest ethnic Indian party, MIC, is facing its biggest leadership crisis ever over elections for its central working committee lineup, forcing Prime Minister Najib Razak to step in to resolve the issue plaguing the coalition partner.
Top leaders of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) have been up in arms since December 5 when the Registrar of Societies (RoS) ordered it to re-elect its 23 CWC members and three vice-presidents.
The statutory body stated that the party polls must be conducted within 90 days following alleged irregularities and breach of the party's constitution and the Societies Act.
But G Palanivel, the president of the party, disputed the instructions citing discrepancies in RoS' order and proceeded to appointed G Kumaar Aamaan as the new secretary-general, changed the party strategic director and three CWC members without prior consultation with the existing committee.
Calling the move "arbitrary", Palanivel deputy S Subramaniam, party member M Saravanan and CWC member P Kamalanathan called on Palanivel to hold an emergency meeting to resolve the outstanding problems to avoid the risk of the 68-year-old party from being deregistered.
The RoS has also declared the new appointments null and void until the re-election is held.
The ugly crisis plaguing the MIC has prompted ruling coalition party Barisan Nasional chairman and Prime minister Razak and his deputy to step in.
Barisan deputy chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said they had to meet MIC's top leadership and discuss the next course of action for the party "to protect the image of the coalition.
With the current situation, it seems that if we do not interfere, things will go out of control.
"We will meet with them and take the next action within the MIC constitution," he told a press conference here.
"It seems that the president of the party (G. Palanivel) seems to be out of focus... And I am not going to criticise and make it look out of control.
"But this is definitely is not good," Muhyiddin said.
With calls for fresh elections for all posts by several members, Palanivel has agreed to a moratorium to allow for discussions with the prime minister to resolve the party crisis.
"I agree to a moratorium to allow both sides to discuss with the Prime Minister as Chairman of Barisan Nasional to find the best way forward to resolve the crisis," Palanivel said in a statement today.
He said he and his deputy, Dr Subramaniam, will "stand down" as they did not want the party crisis to get worse.
"We will have a moratorium. I do not want the party crisis to escalate," Palanivel said.
He said the moratorium will give both him and Subramaniam "a period of non-crisis to resolve the issues that have come up."
Malaysia's 28 million population comprises eight per cent of ethnic Indians.