Malaysian PM asks MIC to study demands by Indian Community

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Singapore, Nov 29 (UNI) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has asked the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), which is a part of the ruling coalition government, to form a special committee to prepare complete report on the demands of the Indian community.

Disclosing this today, MIC president S Samy Vellu said the Prime Minister gave the directive after meeting him yesterday.

''The committee was asked to study the proposals in the report titled 'New Mechanism for the Indian Community' presented to the Prime Minister in June,'' he said after chairing the party's Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Kuala Lumpur today.

Mr Vellu said Mr Abdullah sympathised with the MIC's requests and promised to study them.

''However, the Prime Minister asked the special committee to put in new proposals,'' the Malaysian national news agency Bernama quoted Mr Vellu as saying.

The new proposals include data on non-Bumiputeras in the public sector, posts and vacancies at the Federal, State and local authority level, and giving priority to recruiting non-Bumiputeras in areas where they have high population concentration in sectors like welfare, education, health and youth, the agency added.

MIC would set up a call centre or hotline so that the public could channelise their problems, such as those involving temples and Tamil schools, Mr Vellu said. There was one recent case of a Hindu temple being demolished in the country though officials said it was illegally built on state land, he informed.

''The MIC is a responsible party which represents the Indian community and has the social, moral and political obligations to protect the interest of Indians,'' he said.

''It will continue to struggle for the betterment of the Indian community so that they can progress together with the other communities towards achieving the objectives of Vision 2020,'' Mr Vellu stressed, pointing to the year 2020 when Malaysia aims to become a developed country.

The MIC president assured that his party would continue to work within the system with the Prime Minister to uplift the living standard of the Indian community.

Some 20,000 ethnic Indians protested last Sunday for being marginalised in their adopted country while the indigenous Malays, called Bumiputras (or sons of the land as per the Sanskrit word), were given special privileges in education, employement and other sectors of the booming Malaysian economy. Others are considered non-Bumiputras.

The unprecedented ethnic Indian protest has shaken Malaysia politically though the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional or National Front, with MIC, representing the Indians and the Malaysian Chinese Association representing the Chinese segment of the population, has been ruling the country for 50 years since independence with absolute majority, political observers said.

Mr Abdullah had earlier this week warned the protestors of possible charges under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.

Some opposition politicians have raised questions about the grievances expressed by the protestors while others have condemned it, saying such illegal rally was disrupting economic progress being made by the country and creating racial tension in a predominantly Muslim society, which has lived peacefully with other races including Buddhists, Christians and Hindus for many years.

The protestors, led by Hind Rights Action Force (Hindraf), have also filed a four trillion dollar case in London against the British government for having failed to ensure their well-being in the adopted country.

They blamed the British colonial government for bringing their forefathers to the then Malaya to work as labourers. Some Hindraf leaders were being questioned by police over the protests, which originally was to present a petition to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for their case in London.

Malaysian media reports said more protests were being planned by the group involved in the Sunday protests, which eyewitnesses said had turned violent against the police, and had to be controlled by tear gas and water cannons.

Political analysts said Mr Abdullah's latest move to get MIC to set up a special committee would cool the situation involving the ethnic Indian protestors.


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