PETALING JAYA – One of Malaysia’s longest serving Cabinet ministers S. Samy Vellu has died at the age of 86.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, former Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Subramaniam said he had been informed of the news by Tun Samy Vellu’s son, Vell Paari.

He did not reveal the cause of death.

“To many of us, he was the ultimate mentor. His contribution to the nation and the Indian community will be permanently etched in our memories,” said Datuk Seri Subramaniam.

“My condolences to the family on his demise. He led a full and glorious life, and is going off filled with deep respect and appreciation. May his soul reach the abode of the Lord.”

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Wee Ka Siong said Mr Samy Vellu’s demise is a great loss to society and the country. 

“The services and sacrifices of the late Samy Vellu during his tenure as MIC president and Cabinet minister will always be remembered,” Datuk Seri Wee said on Facebook.

Mr Samy Vellu was president of the MIC, a key component of Barisan Nasional, for a record 31 years until 2010.

A larger-than-life character known for his controversial statements and his thick crop of hair, the veteran dominated Indian politics in Malaysia for decades after joining the party in 1959.

He was also a key loyalist of Tun Mahathir Mohamad who was prime minister for 22 years to 2003 when he was leading the BN coalition.

Mr Samy was a long-serving works minister, and also served as minister for energy, communications and posts, for a total of 29 years until he lost his parliamentary seat in the 2008 general election.

In December 2019, Mr Vell Paari claimed Mr Samy Vellu was not mentally fit to manage his affairs due to dementia. He said his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017.

Local media reported back then that Mr Vell Paari filed an application to seek a court declaration that father wasn’t able to defend himself after legal cases were filed against him.