Gerakan vice-president Dr S Vijayaratnam was found dead outside his clinic in Seremban this morning. He was 58.
MCPXIt is learnt that the politician's body was discovered around 11.30am outside the three-storey building which he owned, known as 'Vijay Mahal', located along Jalan Tengku Hassan.
He leaves behind widow Anucia Tharumaratnam and two sons.
The police, who are investigating the death, this afternoon ruled out suicide or foul play.
In a statement, Gerakan said Vijayaratnam had suffered a heart attack and party sources scotched rumours that foul play was involved.
"Vijayaratnam passed away this morning due to a heart attack. This is sad news to Gerakan, the Barisan Nasional and the country," read the statement.
"He was a leader of principle respected by many and a role model for the young people inside and outside of Gerakan. May God bless his family and give them strength."
Meanwhile, Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon expressed shock and sadness over Vijayaratnam's sudden demise."We lost a committed comrade and close friend," he said in a statement.Describing Vijayaratnam as a dedicated and loyal leader of Gerakan, Koh said: "We pay tribute to a true Malaysian. Vijayaratnam frequently contributed articles to the media to articulate the party's ideology and stand on various issues of national concern."Vijayaratnam, whose father is a former DAP leader and a one-term parliamentarian for Seremban Barat, joined Gerakan in 1980.
Vijayaratnam was appointed senator in 2002 and served for two years, from 2006 to 2008, as parliament secretary of the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry.
Highest ranking non-Chinese in Gerakan
Vijayaratnam, a general practitioner based in Seremban, was the highest ranking non-Chinese leader in Gerakan.
In the party polls last month, he retained his vice-president's post by coming in second. The highest vote-getter was former Youth chief Mah Siew Keong (1,153 votes), followed by Vijayaratnam (678) and former Penang Youth chief Huan Cheng Guan (568).Highly-fancied Malay candidate Dr Asharuddin Ahmad (537) failed to make the cut.Party observers said that Vijayaratnam was able to win the post twice because he was known as the president's manVijayaratnam was chairperson of the party's International Affairs & Ethnic Relations Bureau and head of Gerakan branch in Sungai Ujong, Negri Sembilan.
He was also a member of the National Economic Consultative Council, a fellow of the Royal Society of Health in London, and an honorary fellow of the Indian College of General Practitioners in New Delhi, India.
MIC president S Samy Vellu remembered Vijayaratnam as a "mild-mannered, easy-going and well-respected" person.
"I am deeply shocked and saddened by his demise," he said in a statement.
"Gerakan has lost a capable leader. He served the government well. I knew him very well and he worked closely with MIC. It's a great loss to us too.
"I wish to extend my condolence to his wife and children," he added.
In another reaction, Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong, who is from PKR, also expressed her condolences to Vijayaratnam's family and Gerakan.
"I have had the pleasure of working with Vijayaratnam from 2005, when he was a member of the Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus for Democracy in Myanmar, and later in the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Caucus for Democracy in Myanmar (AIPMC)."Dr Vijayaratnam's and his party's steadfast support to see democracy restored in Myanmar was instrumental in propelling the Malaysian government's position to be more vocal on this issue," she said.