KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has paid tribute to the Indian community in Malaysia for their contributions to the development of the country.
The community had fought for the country’s independence along with the other races when the British were looking for reasons not to grant it, he said.
“Without independence, the wealth of the country would have continued to be siphoned away,” he said when opening the MIC’s 57th general assembly at the PWTC yesterday.
Dr Mahathir, who is Barisan Nasional chairman and Umno president, said the British carried out some development only to facilitate the exploitation of the country’s resources.
He said thousands of acres of jungle were cleared to plant rubber trees and to mine tin ore.
“But the people who actually worked hard to open up the land to plant rubber trees were those brought in from India,” he said, adding that thousands perished due to malaria and other diseases.
“We are thankful many survived and adopted this country as their homeland,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the role of the Indians and their contributions to the Government and the country were “much bigger than what the community would suggest”.
“They may be only 10% of the population and not as big as the Malays or Chinese but their voice and role in shaping the affairs of the country is more than 10%,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the MIC had been inviting him to open the party’s general assembly for the past 23 years although he had been Prime Minister for 21 years.
Dr Mahathir was also impressed with an 11-minute video presentation shown at the MIC general assembly which paid tribute to him for his services to the Indian community.
The video presentation included footage of Dr Mahathir’s early years and his contribution towards the Indian community as well as the infrastructure and modern buildings of Malaysia today.
Vetri Media, commissioned by MIC to produce the video presentation, carried out the necessary research and compiled and edited the material.
Its producer N.S. Krishna said the footage was obtained from Filem Negara, RTM and the National Archives.
“It took us one month to produce the tribute,” he said yesterday.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said that the VCD was a special gift to Dr Mahathir for his contributions to the MIC and the Indian community during his 22-year tenure as Prime Minister.
“We feel this is one way of showing the Indian community’s appreciation. He has done a lot for the community,” he said.