Malaysia govt approves fund for Indian community

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Singapore, Jul 13: The Malaysian government has approved 120 million ringgit for the development of the ethnic Indian community over the next four years.

Announcing this in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) president S Samy Vellu said 30 million ringgit will be spent each year on developing the living standards of low-income ethnic Indians.The MIC has been blamed for the poor performance of the local Indian community of about two million people, which had protested last year for having been left out of the Malaysian prosperity.

The MIC is also blamed for the March 8, 2008 general election failure which left the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) without a two-third majority for the first time in the history of independent Malaysia. The MIC is the third main component of the ruling coalition BN which is led by Malay dominated United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the business and commerce powerhouse Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

Addressing MIC delegates at the annual assembly yesterday, the former senior Cabinet Minister, with a wide ranging responsibility of developing infrastructure in Malaysia, said the MIC had requested for 300 million ringgit for helping develop the living standard of the low-income ethnic Indians in the country from 2010 to 2020.

He also announced a Cabinet committee, to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, for addressing problems faced by the local Indian community.

The committee would meet regularly and thoroughly review problems related to the Indian community before setting out directives to other government department for addressing them.

Separately, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has reaffirmed his commitment to learn from past mistakes, promised quality opportunities to all races in the country as a reaction and review of the post March general election.

"I fully understand and realise our failures in the last general election and I will learn from them. I will not forget," Mr Abdullah, who is also chairman of the BN, told a gathering of 300,000 people from non-governmental organisation yesterday at Putrajaya, the new Malaysian capital outside Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Abdullah assured that every ethnic community gets an equal share of opportunities to better itself under his government.

The Premier also disclosed a new strategy for the New Economic Policy (NEP), which has been widely criticised for being pro-Malay and indigenous people of Malay origin, and being bias, leaving other community out of the Malaysian prosperity.

Mr Abdullah said his government would continue to strive to reduce the socio-economic divide among the people, and hoped that no one would be listed under the hardcore poor category by 2010.

The premier, who has announced plans to retire from politics by June 2010, has also reiterated his administration's goal of developing the agriculture and agro-based industry and his emphasis on human capital development.


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