(A Picture taken with Tun Samy Vellu in Chennai India in 2008 during our regular meetings with him during his trip - from left - Saravanan, Anandh, Tun Samy Vellu, Dr Venkates Rao)
A Picture taken with Tun Samy Vellu in Chennai India in 2008 during our regular meetings with him during his trip - from left - Saravanan, Anandh, Tun Samy Vellu, Dr Venkates Rao

Today we lost a legend, a leader who would go above and beyond for our community and the country. Tun Samy Vellu was a tough man and through his directness and no-nonsense approach, aspiring leaders had the opportunity to grow and mature under his guidance.

Tun always believed that the youths are the future of tomorrow. Putera MIC was the brainchild of Tun which he founded in 2007 to recruit young Indians among graduates, professionals, and entrepreneurs to come together and give back to the community and elevate the status of the Indian community in Malaysia, from being known as labourers to a community that is well-respected within the social standing of Malaysia. Putera MIC championed education and entrepreneurship through various programs across the country targeting young Indians with the aim of elevating Indians from poverty.

I was extremely fortunate to be part of this effort back in 2007. Back then Datuk P Kamalanathan was appointed to lead the youth wing and I was elected as the national council member to set up the Chennai/India wing as part of the Putera MIC International Chapters worldwide. At the mere age of 21 years old, I was extremely honoured when the then party president, Tun Samy Vellu would actively engage with us either via telephone calls or in person during every trip he made to Chennai, albeit professional or personal.

Tun Samy Vellu was a man who had progress at the forefront. During each call and visit, he required us to update the progress of our setup. He was not a man who could easily be appeased by excuses. With his strategy, we were able to gather many young professionals under the wing to further expand our network and we had more hands and legs on the ground be it in India or in Malaysia.

Tun was sure to make us take pride in being part of Putera MIC. He expanded our networks by insisting that we tagged along during his meetings with the local leaders in India and spoke very highly of us during the meeting to ensure that we had access to local leaders in India should any emergency crop up.

One lesson which stuck with me was that leaders do not have weekends. I will never forget an incident which happened when I was a student in Chennai. It was 6.00 am on Sunday, Tun had just landed in Chennai and we were not aware that he was visiting. He rang me up at 6.00 am. I was fast asleep and did not pick up his call. 3 hours later, I woke up and saw his missed call, jumped on my feet, and rung back. From the other side, he asked, “Why didn’t you pick up?” to which I replied that I was asleep since it was the weekend. He sternly reprimanded me, “Weekends are not for leaders, what if one of your people is in trouble? There are no Sundays or Mondays to be a leader, now come over.” That stuck with me, a leader lives for his people, and Tun walked the talk.

Tun’s diligence inspires me every day and today, YouthCorp is an organization founded by a few of us here in Malaysia post our stint in Chennai/India to continue to give back to the community.

I dare to say, working with him at a young age made me the man I am today. He taught me how to solve problems systematically, and to always back my arguments up with facts and figures.

Till this very day, I will always hear his voice “ini semua kerja orang gila lah” when I am about to lose my cool and I can immediately smile and stay composed. That is the kind of effect Tun had on me.

If I am half the man, he was, I am twice the man I ever thought I could be. Thank you Tun for making a mark in my life, may your soul attain moksha.

Dr Venkates Rao Enkatesulu
President – YouthCorp Malaysia
Former Chairman – PuteraMIC Chennai / India
Former National Council Member of PuteraMIC