Kuala Lumpur: Veteran ethnic Indian leader and head of Penang state's Malaysian Indian Congress P K Subbaiyah died in his sleep at his home in Butterworth.

Subbaiyah, 63, is believed to have suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep early this morning.

He is survived by wife Vallini, daughter Gowri and son Ganesh.

Subbaiyah was a two-term state executive council member and party's Penang unit MIC chairman since May 2009.

He was made senator in April last year. MIC is the largest ethnic Indian based political party in Malaysia and is an important component in the ruling coalition of Barisan National party.