Malaysian Indian Congress

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC; Tamil: மலேசிய இந்திய காங்கிரஸ், romanized: Malēciya intiya kāṅkiras; formerly known as Malayan Indian Congress) is a Malaysian political party. It is one of the founding members of the coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), previously known as the Alliance, which was in power from when the country achieved independence in 1957 until the elections in 2018. The party was among the first to fight for Malayan Independence and one of the oldest parties in Malaysia.

Malaysian Indian Congress
Malay nameKongres India Se-Malaysia
Tamil nameமலேசிய இந்திய காங்கிரஸ் Malēciya intiya kāṅkiras
PresidentVigneswaran Sanasee
Secretary-GeneralM. Asojan
SpokespersonV. Gunalan
Deputy PresidentSaravanan Murugan
Vice-PresidentT. Mohan
Sivarraajh Chandran
T. Murugiah
Youth LeaderThinalan T. Rajagopalu
Woman LeaderJ. Usha Nandhini
Putera Leader
Puteri Leader
Pon Kogilam
FounderJohn Thivy
Founded4 August 1946
Preceded byMalayan Indian Congress
Headquarters6th floor, Menara Manicavasagam, No. 1, Jalan Rahmat, 50350 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
NewspaperMIC Times
Tamil Nesan
Youth wingMIC Youth Movement
Women's wingMIC Women's Movement
Men's youth wingMIC Putera Movement
Women's youth wingMIC Puteri Movement
Social conservatism
Dravidian Movement
Self-Respect Movement
Indian nationalism (historical)
Gandhian socialism (historical)
Tamil nationalism (historical)
Political positionRight-wing
National affiliationAll-Malaya Council of Joint Action (1948–1953)
Alliance (1954–73)
Barisan Nasional (1973–)
Colours     Green and white
Dewan Negara:
3 / 70
Dewan Rakyat:
1 / 222
Dewan Undangan Negeri:
3 / 587
Party flag

The MIC was established in August 1946 to advocate for Indian independence from British colonial rule. After India gained its independence, MIC turned its focus to the struggle for the independence of Malaya (now Malaysia), which was achieved in 1957. It positioned itself to represent the Indian community in Malaya in the post-World War II development of the country. The MIC, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) formed the National Alliance in 1954. The National Alliance incorporated additional parties and became the Barisan Nasional in 1973.

The MIC was once the largest party representing the Indian community, but has performed poorly in elections since 2008.


The John Thivy era: Indian nationalism

John Thivy, the founder of the MIC, met Mahatma Gandhi at London while studying law. He was inspired by Gandhi's ideology and Nehru's vision and became determined to fight for Indian independence. He became actively involved in the Indian nationalist movement and returned to Malaya.[1] He founded the Malaya Indian Congress (renamed Malaysian Indian Congress after the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963) in August 1946, and was party president until 1947. The word 'Congress' in the party's name refers to the Indian National Congress, the party Mahatma Gandhi led to fight for Indian independence.

The Baba Budh Singh Ji and Ramanathan era: opposition to the Malayan Union

After India gained independence in 1947, the MIC changed its focus and started to fight for the independence of Malaya.[2] Baba Budh Singh Ji became president of MIC in 1947. After World War II, the British had established the Malayan Union, unifying the Malay Peninsula under a single government to simplify administration. Although a majority of the Indian community supported the Malayan Union, the MIC did not.[3] The Malayan Union was dissolved in 1948 after widespread Malay protests and replaced with the Federation of Malaya.[4] The MIC later joined the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) under Tun Tan Cheng Lock in opposition to the Federation of Malaya Agreement .

K. Ramanathan became president in 1950. By this time, the MIC was the leading party representing Indians in Malaya.[5] Ramanathan advocated for the relaxation of the language proficiency test as a prerequisite for citizenship for Indians, and urged Indians to obtain federal citizenship.[6]

The K.L. Devaser era: membership of the Alliance Party, and a focus on Malayan independence

The MIC's fourth President, Kundan Lal Devaser, served from 1951 to 1955. It was during his period that MIC started to focus on the fight for Malayan independence.[7]

Under Devaser, the MIC contested the 1952 Kuala Lumpur Municipal Elections in alliance with the Independence of Malaya Party, Dato' Onn bin Jaafar and other non-communal organisations. The election ended with a failure for MIC as their coalition was defeated by the Alliance Party. The defeat showed MIC that it stood a better chance of gaining influence by joining the Alliance. In 1954 the MIC joined the United Malays National Organisation and the Malayan Chinese Association in the Alliance, securing a place for Indians in the administration.[6] The party's broader membership was less enthusiastic than the MIC leadership about joining the Alliance but were willing to support the move if the party could secure concessions from the Alliance on inter-communal issues, particularly on education.[8]

Devaser was primarily popular among the urban-based Indian elite, and lacked wider grassroots support. For the first eight years, MIC leaders were either of North Indian or Malayalee origin, a minority among Malayan Indians. The majority of Indians in Malaya at that time were Tamils, most of whom were labourers in plantations. Indian plantation workers experienced enforced segregation because of plantation compound housing. The plantation labour system also worked against the integration of Indian workers into society and perpetuated racial and occupational differentiation. Plantation workers were unable to acquire the skills required to move to better-paying jobs.

Migrant plantation workers were both marginalised and polarised in Malaya. Their wages were tied to rubber prices, falling when the rubber price fell, and were about 50c per day. Devaser came under heavy criticism from the Tamil media for not addressing the pressing issues facing the community. Some in the party felt that there was a need for a leader with a stronger relationship with the party's grassroots. In March 1955, the local daily Tamil Murasu urged Tamils to boycott the MIC.[9] This was followed by a call for change in MIC's leadership, led by Tamil MIC leaders, and Devaser stepped down.[6] The MIC then faced the challenge of reconciling the political aspirations of the middle class with the needs of the working class, who at the time comprised 84% of the plantation workforce.

The Sambanthan era: becoming a Tamil party

In May 1955, Tun V. T. Sambanthan was elected as the fifth President of the Malayan Indian Congress. Sambanthan started a recruitment campaign among plantation workers, relying on the patronage of Hinduism in its popular South Indian form, increased use of the Tamil language, and encouraging Tamil cultural activities. He personally toured plantations and encouraged Tamils to join the MIC.[6] This led to a fragmentation of the Indian community, with traditionalists and the lower middle class becoming prominent in the party while upper-class professionals and the intelligentsia moved away from it. Two paths to leadership emerged in the Indian community, via politics or via trade union activism, with very little interaction between them.

Under Sambanthan's leadership, the MIC effectively became a Tamil party. Sambanthan served as president of the MIC until 1971 and was largely responsible for the transformation of the party from an active, political organisation to a conservative, traditional one, emphasising Indian culture, religion and language. It was the weakest of the three main political parties, with the smallest electorate (7.4% in 1959) and had little support from the Indian community at large.

The Indian community was geographically dispersed and divided and comprised less than 25% of the population in any constituency. The MIC's overriding concern was therefore to remain a partner in the Alliance and obtain whatever concessions it could from the dominant UMNO. This led the MIC to compromise on priorities such as the political and economic rights of workers..

Sambanthan sold approximately half of his father's 2.4 km² rubber estate and donated part of the money to the MIC. He was not uniformly popular but was able to gradually unite a party that had significant internal divides. During his presidency, in 1957, Malaysian independence was achieved. Sambanathan was involved in the negotiations with the British government's Reid Commission to draw up the new Malayan constitution. In 1963 Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak merged with the Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia, and the MIC renamed itself the Malaysian Indian Congress.

Sambanathan was forced to retire in favour of V. Manickavasagam in 1973 after a rebellion by five MIC leaders including Samy Vellu.

The Manickavasagam era: economic advocacy and new blood

Manickavasagam served as president of MIC from 1973 to 1978. During this period, Malaysia's New Economic Policy was being developed, and the MIC convened two economic conferences in an unsuccessful effort to advocate for the interests of Indians.[10]

It was during this period that the MIC, as member of the Alliance, became part of the Barisan Nasional. The party sponsored the Nesa Multipurpose Cooperative and the MIC Unit Trust as part of its programme for economic ventures. It also set up the MIC Education Fund for members' children and the Malaysian Indian Scholarship Fund for higher education as well as acquiring an Institute for training Indians in technical and trade skills.

Manickavasagam appointed several new representatives to leadership positions, including Subramaniam Sathasivam, Datuk K. Pathmanaban, a Harvard MBA holder, and several others. They were young, well-educated and ambitious but lacked grassroots experience. Subramaniam was hand-picked by Manickavasagam to become deputy president and succeed him, but the party elected Samy Vellu as Deputy President instead, by a narrow margin of 26 votes.

The Vellu era: focus on education

Vellu became MIC president in 1979 and served until 2010. Under his leadership, in 1984, the MIC founded the Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) to offer educational opportunities and financial support to Indian students in Malaysia.[11] In 2001, the MIC and MIED launched a new University with the stated goal of helping Indians acquire professional training, AIMST University. Vellu became the founding Chancellor. By 2018, the university had achieved a score of 4 on the Malaysian Higher Education Institution's 5-point rating scale.[12] However, AIMST's commitment to training Indian students has been questioned.[13]

Vellu was succeeded by G. Palanivel who served from 2010 to 2014. Subramaniam was then elected, initially in an acting role, serving from 2014 to 2018. As of 2019, the party is led by Vigneswaran Sanasee.

MIC achievements


More than 10,000 students have obtained loans and scholarships totalling about RM60mil in the past 20 years from the MIED fund.[14]

The party sponsored the Nesa Multipurpose Cooperative and the MIC Unit Trust as part of its programme for economic ventures, as well as the MIC Education Fund for the children of MIC members and the Malaysian Indian Scholarship for higher education.[3]

The Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology University (AIMST) was founded on 15 March 2001 by MIED.

Central Working Committee

  • President: Vigneswaran Sanasee
  • Deputy President: Saravanan Murugan
  • 1st Vice-President: T. Mohan
  • 2nd Vice-President: Sivarraajh Chandran
  • 3rd Vice-President: T. Murugiah
  • Secretary-General: M. Asojan
  • Treasurer-General: M.S. Amrit Kaur
  • Information Chief: V. Gunalan
  • Executive Secretary: A.K. Ramalingam
  • Youth Leader: Thinalan Rajagopalu
  • Deputy Youth Leader: Subramaniam Balakrishnan
  • Women Leader: J. Usha Nandhini
  • Deputy Women Leader: Vickneswary Babuji
  • Putera Leader: Padmarajah
  • Deputy Putera Leader: G. Nedunchelien
  • Puteri Leader: Pon Kogilam
  • Deputy Puteri Leader: C.M. Hemalatha

30 Central Working Committee Members:

  1. P. Kamalanathan
  2. S. Ananthan
  3. M. Mathuraiveran
  4. V. Elango
  5. G. Kannan
  6. N. Muneandy
  7. R. Subramaniam
  8. M. Nyana Segaran
  9. J. Dhinagaran
  10. S. Kannan
  11. G. Raman
  12. TH Subra @ Subramaniam
  13. S. Marathamuthu
  14. Dr. Thanaletchumy
  15. S. Tamilvanan
  16. Gunaseelan Rajoo
  17. MP Nathan
  18. M. Veeran
  19. K. Murali Nath
  20. Sathasivam Kalimuthu
  21. D. Tharma Kumaran
  22. R. Balakrishnan
  23. Saundarasan
  24. K. Rajan
  25. V.P. Shanmugam
  26. R. Rajandran
  27. K. Ravi
  28. Subramaniam Karuppiah
  29. S. Murugavelu
  30. K. Ramalingam


Elected representatives

Dewan Negara (Senate)


  1. Ananthan Somasundaram – appointed by the Kedah State Legislative Assembly
  2. Mohan Tangarasu – appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
  3. Vigneswaran Sanasee – appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives)

Members of Parliament of the 14th Malaysian Parliament

As of 2019, MIC has only 1 MP in the House of Representatives.

State No. Parliament Constituency Member Party
 PerakP072TapahM. Saravanan MuruganMIC
TotalPerak (1)

Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly)

Malaysian State Assembly Representatives

State election results

List of party leaders

Presidents of the Malayan Indian Congress (1946–1963)

Order Portrait Name[16] Term of office Notes
1 John Thivy 4 August 1946 1947
2 Baba Budh Singh Ji 1947 1950
3 K. Ramanathan Chettiar 1950 1951
4 Kundan Lal Devaser 1951 May 1955
5 V. T. Sambanthan May 1955 16 September 1963

Presidents of the Malaysian Indian Congress (1963–present)

Order Portrait Name[16] Term of office Time in office Notes
5 V. T. Sambanthan 16 September 1963 30 June 1973 9 years, 287 days
6 V. Manickavasagam 30 June 1973 12 October 1978 5 years, 104 days
7 Samy Vellu 12 October 1979 6 December 2010 31 years, 55 days
8 Palanivel Govindasamy 6 December 2010 25 June 2014 3 years, 201 days
Subramaniam Sathasivam 25 June 2014 25 June 2015 1 year, 0 days Acting President
9 Subramaniam Sathasivam 25 June 2015 15 July 2018 3 years, 20 days
10 Vigneswaran Sanasee 15 July 2018 Incumbent 1 year, 155 days

General election results

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Election leader
2 / 52
26,868 2.68% 2 seats; Governing coalition (Alliance Party) V. T. Sambanthan
3 / 104
15,711 1.02% 1 seat; Governing coalition (Alliance Party) V. T. Sambanthan
3 / 104
19,269 1.60% ; Governing coalition (Alliance Party) V. T. Sambanthan
2 / 144
1 seat; Governing coalition (Alliance Party) V. T. Sambanthan
4 / 144
2 seats; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) V. Manickavasagam
3 / 154
1 seat; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) V. Manickavasagam
4 / 154
1 seat; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
6 / 177
104,701 2.21% 2 seats; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
6 / 180
; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
7 / 192
1 seat; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
7 / 193
; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
9 / 219
221,546 3.2% 2 seats; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
3 / 222
179,422 2.21% 6 seats; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Samy Vellu
4 / 222
286,629 2.59% 1 seat; Governing coalition (Barisan Nasional) Palanivel Govindasamy
2 / 222
167,061 1.39% 2 seats; Opposition (Barisan Nasional) S. Subramaniam

See also


  1. Timothy J. Lomperis, ed. (2000). From People’s War to People’s Rule: Insurgency, Intervention, and the Lessons of Vietnam. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 217. ISBN 9789971693916.
  2. Andrew C. Willford, ed. (2007). Cage of Freedom: Tamil Identity and the Ethnic Fetish in Malaysia. NUS Paper. p. 26. ISBN 9789971693916.
  3. "History – MIC". Malaysian Indian Congress.
  4. Lau, Albert, 1956- (1991). The Malayan Union controversy 1942-1948. Singapore: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195889649. OCLC 22117633.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Rajagopal, Shanthiah; Fernando, Joseph Milton (27 April 2018). "The Malayan Indian Congress and Early Political Rivalry among Indian Organisations in Malaya, 1946–1950" (PDF). Kajian Malaysia. 36 (1): 25–42. doi:10.21315/km2018.36.1.2.
  6. Kailasam, A. (1 January 2015). "Political expediencies and the process of identity construction: The quest for indian identity in Malaysia" (PDF). Kajian Malaysia. 33: 1–18.
  7. "MIC – The Hidden History".
  8. Brown, Rajeswary Ampalavanar, 1943- (1981). The Indian minority and political change in Malaya, 1945-1957. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195804732. OCLC 8080662.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. "Archives - The Star Online".
  10. Anbalakan, K. (1 January 2003). "The NEP and Further Marginalization of the Indians" (PDF). Kajian Malysia. 21: 379–398.
  11. "Corporate Profile – Maju Institute Of Educational Development". Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  12. SEE, BERNARD (24 November 2018). "Varsity to keep chasing excellence". The Star Online. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  13. "MIC turns 70, but AIMST intake of Indian students 'shocking' ⋆ The Malaysian Times". The Malaysian Times. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Central Working Committee". Malaysian Indian Congress.
  16. "Past Presidents of MIC – MIC".
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