Speculation is rife that Malaysia's only ethnic-Indian minister Samy Vellu may be discarded by the ruling alliance in the upcoming election despite defending the government rattled by the massive protests against alleged mariginalisation of the community.
Vellu, who has been at the helm of the Malaysian Indian Congress for two decades, denied that he was being 'forced' by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi not to contest the polls.
A demonstration by thousands of ethnic-Indians led by leaders of Hindu Rights Action Force on November 25, 2007 in Kuala Lumpur had left the government shaken, especially as it was followed by sharp international criticism.
Vellu, who is the works minister, has denied that the community was being marginalised in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country, in terms of jobs and education.
Referring to a comment in a blog that Abdullah had asked him to resign and not seek re-election, Vellu said those spreading such 'lies' on the Internet and via SMS were 'mad'.
Vellu maintained that the prime minister had never discussed the election or the candidates with him.
The MIC, which is a part of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, represents the ethnic Indian community, which comprises 7.8 per cent of the total population of 27 million.
With the election dates soon to be announced, the government is confident that the ruling coalition will again win the polls comfortably, though it has admitted that the demonstrations have lead to a decline in its popularity.
Deputy premier Najib Razak said the Barisan Nasional was confident of winning a two-thirds majority in the polls.