| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 24 April 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak has released the federal government’s first-ever blueprint to uplift Indians in Malaysia, with an allocation of more than RM1 billion, which has been described as not mere “empty talk” in the run-up to the next general elections.
The 172-page Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) was released at an event in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (23 April 2017).
“Well, I want to inform you that this plan provides a clear mechanism and the executive committee will monitor the programmes to ensure they are run effectively….What we are presenting is not just empty talk, political rhetoric or ‘vetti pecchu’ (‘empty chatter’ in Tamil), but ‘nijjam’ (fact),” he said, reports FMT, peppering his speech with a few Tamil words.
Najib said the blueprint was a commitment and determination of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to continue to develop the living standard of the Indian community in the country.
In his launch speech, he said the action plan to help the community concerned especially those in the B40 group (whose household income represents the lowest 40 per cent) was carefully prepared using the ‘bottom-up and inclusive approach.
“The MIB is a realistic plan for us to move forward. It is a doable and an achievable plan,” he said, reports Bernama.
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, MIC president Dr S Subramaniam, MCA president Liow Tiong Lai and Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa. Najib and Zahib are form Umno, the dominant party in the coalition ruling the Federal government, which also consist of MCA, MIC and more than a dozen other political parties.
It is not clear how extensively Sikhs and the Sikh organisations in Malaysia were engaged in the run-up to the formulation of the document. Cursory checks by Asia Samachar did not show much involvement from the Sikhs, expect for Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) president Jagir Singh’s involvement in a religious committee discussion.
Some leaders from Sikh organisations, including Coalition of Malaysian Organisations (CMSO), MGC and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), were present at the launch event.
As of 2016, the document noted, Indians of Malaysian citizenship number around 1.99 million people or 7% of the 31-million person population in Malaysia. The vast majority of Indians are Tamils from the Indian subcontinent while the rest comprise Telugus, Malayalees, Punjabis, Gujeratis, Sindhis, Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils and others. The majority of Tamils in Malaysia are Hindus; other religions observed by the Indian community include Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. In tandem with the country’s socioeconomic development, Malaysian Indians in overall terms have also progressed socioeconomically.
In the 44-year period spanning 1970 to 2014, Malaysia’s median monthly household income grew by a compound annual growth rate of 7.8%. Malaysian Indians’ median monthly household income grew by a comparative 7.5% within the same period, it added.
Based on the same income survey by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia (DOS), mean or average monthly income for Malaysian Indian households stand at RM6,246 compared to RM5,548 for Bumiputera and RM7,666 for Malaysian Chinese.
“The overall socioeconomic achievement of the ethnic group masks deep intra-ethnic inequalities, which reflects the community’s diverse sub-groups and their different historical starting points in the country. These inequalities can fuel a sense of injustice and marginalisation if they become too pronounced or persistent across generations,” the document noted.
In recent years, it added that the Government has launched a number of initiatives aimed at addressing these issues and for the first time in the country’s history, a Cabinet Committee on Indian Participation in Government Programs and Projects (CCIC) was formed in 2008 to ensure these issues receive attention at the highest levels. While these efforts are a significant improvement on the preceding status quo, a renewed push is needed to resolve long-standing issues of inequality and social immobility, and to integrate the relevant interventions into mainstream, race-neutral Government delivery mechanisms in the long-term.
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