‘Foundation should be rebranded to propel growth’

Former JICCI deputy president S. Sanmugam (right) doing the honours for Vidyananthan during the recent AGM in Johor Baru. Looking on is Krishnan (left).  

YAYASAN Sultanah Rogayah (YSR), which provides welfare assistance to the Indian community in Johor, should be rebranded to provide entrepreneurial, business and education aid as well as opportunities, says the Johor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JICCI).

JICCI secretary-general Datuk K. Krishnan said instead of depending on government funds, the foundation should source for income through business projects or seek for donations.

“We should look at how Yayasan Pelajaran Johor (YPJ), in addition to receiving annual grants, undertook business opportunities and carried out land joint-venture programmes and even participated in government tender projects.

“YPJ has since grown and can now afford to provide education and scholarships to the needy in Johor, ” he said in an interview.

Krishnan said there were lessons YSR could learn from YPJ.

“When YSR was formed several years ago, the grants from the government was up to RM10mil annually.

“After the Covid-19 pandemic and change of government, only RM4mil has been allocated, ” he said, adding that YSR’s growth was limited without additional or adequate funds.

Krishnan hoped that YSR could adopt business models like Singapore’s Indian Development Association (Sinda) or Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community (Mendaki) which were headed by a government appointee with professionals and civil servants in the body.

“Besides getting government assistance, these organisations also source for funds and are able to generate income to help the community via long-term programmes, ” he said, adding that there should be strong political will to push for reforms for YSR to grow.

He said JICCI was willing to work with the state government to improve YSR for the betterment of the community.

On JICCI’s recently concluded annual general meeting (AGM), Krishnan said besides the motion on YSR, four other motions were passed, including on the state government’s formation of an Indian task force that would be headed by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He added that it was important for the task force to meet to settle outstanding issues plaguing the state’s Indian community.

Krishnan said that the other motions passed included asking for additional help for those affected by the prolonged border closure and for JICCI representatives to be included in licensing committees in city and municipal councils statewide.

He said JICCI previously had representatives in Johor Baru City Council (MBJB), Central Johor Municipal Council [now known as Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP)] and Pasir Gudang City Council (MBPG).

“We also had representatives in Kluang, Muar and Kulai to help give input and ideas on how to resolve business-related issues.

“We resolved so many issues, including problems faced by petty traders on business and licensing matters, ” he said.

He added that having JICCI representatives in a local council would allow for direct interaction and feedback from the business community on plans being carried out.

Krishnan said the pandemic had caused a lot of hardship on Johor’s business community and there should be plans on how to assist them to get back on their feet post-pandemic.

Johor health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan, who launched the JICCI AGM, welcomed suggestions and urged the body to put forward its proposals to the state government.

“I agree that we need long-term policies, not just ad hoc policies.

“I am doing my best to resolve issues faced by Indians in Johor and I need help from everyone as I am not an expert in all fields, ” he said, urging JICCI to continue giving its input.

Vidyananthan said his office door was open if anyone had constructive ideas to share.

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