PENDANG: The Thai community has been assured that they are entitled to bumiputra benefits and privileges.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the community had long been recognised as bumiputra, adding that their loyalty to the country was unquestionable.
The Prime Minister said even Umno recognised them as bumiputra and allowed Malaysians of Thai descent to set up party branches.
“I would like to state that the Thais here are regarded as bumiputras and I will ensure that they are truly recognised and enjoy the bumiputra privileges.
“They have been loyal to the country. Former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had declared the Thai community as bumiputra and today, I reiterate this.
“They are entitled to purchase Amanah Saham Bumiputra shares, enrol in Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara and can apply for various Mara loans, among others,” he said when meeting the Thai community at Wat Titi Akar and Wat Nanai yesterday.
He said when the political tsunami hit the country and the state in 2008, the community's support for Barisan Nasional remained strong.
Najib also said that when he introduced the 1Malaysia concept, it was to further elevate the spirit of tolerance to acceptance.
“To realise this, there must be a change in mindset and attitude. The time has come for us to accept the diversity rather than just tolerate it,” he said.
Najib said aside from globalisation, the process of localisation was also being pursued by the people.
He cited the setting up of the Thai language school by the community as part of efforts to preserve their culture and tradition as example of localisation efforts.
The Prime Minister announced an allocation of RM500,000 to the Thai language school in Wat Titi Akar and RM9,000 each to the 48 wats in Kedah.
Earlier in Gurun, he said unity among Malays was the key to national unity.
Najib said Malay unity could be reflected in many ways, including through associations such as silat groups.
Najib said the struggle for the country did not end with Malaysia achieving independence but should continue until the country and Malays achieved excellence.
The Prime Minister was bestowed the “Imam Khalifah Agong Gayong” award by the Seni Silat Pusaka Gayong Malaysia organisation.
His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was presented with an award which carries the title “Sri Pelangi Srikandi Utama”.