‘Unity key to betterment of Indian community’

Raven (centre) with JICCI deputy president A.N. Chandran (second from left) and eBayar Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Abdul Hannan Anand Abdullah (right) after the MOU signing. Looking on is Kemelah assemblyman N. Saraswati (second from right) and Krishnan. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

THE Johor government is committed to helping the Indian community in the state but everyone needs to be united regardless of political affiliation, says a Johor executive councillor.

State tourism, environment, heritage and culture committee chairman K. Raven Kumar said besides having a state executive councillor for Indian matters, Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi had also appointed two other representatives for the community.

“We are committed to looking into helping the community, especially in the areas of welfare, education and religious activities.

“However, everyone needs to be united and work together to find ways for the betterment of the community,” he said, after launching the Johor Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (JICCI) 72nd annual general meeting (AGM) in Johor Baru.

Raven, who is also national MIC Youth chief, said some of the issues affecting the community now were the same problems his late father, Johor MIC deputy chairman S. Krishnasamy, handled 30 years ago.

“We need to find a solution or else the same problems will continue for the next 30 years.

“One example is that we have more than 9,000 registered Hindu temples in Johor.

“We need to have better planned prayers instead of building more temples,” he said, adding that many of these places of worship were in need of government assistance.

Raven said there should be a model for temples to be self-sustaining instead of expecting handouts from the government.

On the need for Yayasan Sultanah Rogayah to be rebranded or for the government to implement the special Indian task force that was announced by previous mentri besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, Raven said Onn Hafiz would be looking into it.

“We will need to fine-tune and look at it in the long term.

“Last year alone, Yayasan Sultanah Rogayah received 11,000 applications from the Indian community and has so far, disbursed aid to more than 8,000 people,” he said, adding that the amounts given out varied between RM350 and RM3,000 each.

In the 2022 state budget, some RM5mil had been allocated for the Indian community via Yayasan Sultanah Rogayah and RM7mil to the Chinese community via Yayasan Sultanah Fatimah.

Meanwhile, JICCI secretary-general Datuk K. Krishnan said they decided to extend invitations to 15 other Indian-based non-governmental organisations in the state to attend the AGM this year.

“We hope to brainstorm and come up with ideas for an Indian blueprint to be presented to the government in future.

“It is time we all unite and plan long-term solutions for the community in the state,” he said, adding that JICCI had passed three major resolutions during the meeting, which including the need for reform involving the function of Yayasan Sultanah Rogayah in line with its core objectives of incorporating various expertise and initiating multisources of funding such as Yayasan Pelajaran Johor.

Others resolutions included urging the Johor government to enlighten people on the concept of an Indian task force and its modus operandi; appealing to the state to coordinate with federal authorities to fast-track approvals for hiring of foreign workers in all sectors; and, looking into providing additional financial assistance to micro and small businesses.

At the AGM, a memorandum of understanding on the “Niagadigital Kmunity JICCI – Online Shop” programme was also signed between the chambers and eBayar Sdn Bhd.

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