by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, June 19, 1991:
Just as Mrs.Marcos and her three thousand pairs of shoes is a political question for Filipinos, Samy Vellu and his thousands of suits costs several thousands of ringgit each which he throw away after using twice or thrice is also a political question for Malaysians
In view of some newspaper reports on the parliamentary proceedings on the first two days of the debate on the Second Outline Perspective Plan 1991-2000 and the New Development Policy, I wish to clarify that I was not being personal or making personal attacks when I raised the question of the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, being a self-confessed ‘Zegna man’.
Just as Mrs.Marcos and her three thousand pairs of shoes is a political question for Filipinos especially in the light of the widespread poverty in the Philippines, Datuk Samy Vellu and his thousands of expensive suits and shirts which he wears not more than twice or thrice before throwing them away, is a hard political question for Malaysians, particularly the Indian community which have been most left behind after 20 years of the New Economic Policy.
This is why I said in Parliament yesterday that Philippines had a Mrs.Marcos while Malaysia had a Datuk Samy Vellu, whose ostentatious extravagance in their lifestyle raise the question as to how sincere they could be about their claim to want to help the poor and backward in their country.
I want to stress that I had not defamed or wronged Datuk Samy Vellu in spreading untruths about him. Everything I said about his ostentatious extravagance in his personal lifestyle comes from his own mouth.
Thus, it was Datuk Samy Vellu who told the New Straits Times in its report of May 13, 1991 that he had been a ‘Zegna man’ for 20 years when he first bought his first Zegna tie. It was Datuk Samy Vellu who said:”Actually, most of my salary goes to Italy”, referring to the Italian origin of the designer.
I had actually quoted a lower figure for the price of the Zegna suits which Datuk Samy Vellu loves so much.
Zegna Boutique manager in Kuala Lumpur, Flora Ong, was quoted in the press today as saying that Zegna shorts of the Spring/Summer Collection ’91 are available for between $500 and $1,000 and jackets and suits are priced between $2,500 and $5,500.
It was again Datuk Samy Vellu who himself told the Star in an interview published on 3rd May 1984 under the headline ‘Samy Vellu’s strong suit’ that he never wears the same clothes twice or thrice. This is in his own words:”I use each shirts and pair of pants for only two or three times, over a period of only about six or seven months. After that, they will all go to my friends. Then I ‘ll change the designs of my clothes.”
Samy Vellu throw away in clothing every two or three days what is the income of an average Indian family for one whole year
We now have a very clear picture of the sartorial tastes and extravagance of the MIC President,. With a Zegna shirt costing between $500 and $1,000, a Zegna suit priced between $2,500 and $5,500, and the Zegna pants and other accoutrements, the MIC President would be wearing worth over $10,000 of sartorial garb without taking into account very expensive personel items.
According to theOPP2, the mean monthly household income foe the Indians in 1990 is $1,201, or $240 per head given an average family or five.
As Datuk Samy Vellu himself said he would only wear these expensive clothings twice or thrice and throw them away, the MIC President must have thousands of suits and shirts. But what is even more important is that he is throwing away every two or three days in clothing what would constitute the average income of a Indian family in Malaysia for one whole year!
Datuk Samy Vellu said in Parliament that what he wears and his personal lifestyle is his personal private affair. He cannot be more wrong.
It is a very serious political question that the MIC President throws away every two or three days in clothing what is the average income of an Indian family for one whole year, for it shows that the 20-year New Economic Policy had failed in ensuring that there is justice and equity for all Malaysians regardless of race in our society.
This is why I said that after 20 years of the NEP, MIC leaders have become affluent and are sharing in the wealth of the country with UMNO and MCA leaders, while the ordinary Indians are sharing the poverty with other ordinary Malays and Chinese!