KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he stood firm in his decision to appoint Datuk T. Subromaniam as the Customs Department director-general despite receiving a petition against his appointment.
He insisted that the Government would always be fair in the appointments of officers to important civil service posts.
Subromaniam, he added, was the most qualified senior officer in the department to be appointed as its director-general.
Najib revealed that the choice for the top Customs post had faced many difficulties.
“I received a petition not to appoint an Indian as the Customs director-general.
“I said ‘No’. He is qualified due to his seniority and I stood my ground,” he said at MIC’s 71st general assembly at PWTC here.
Subromaniam, who was previously Customs deputy director-general (Enforcement and Compliance), took over from Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad on March 24 this year.
Earlier this year, a letter, allegedly from the Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO), surfaced online, claiming that it had tried to lobby the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a Malay to be appointed to the post instead of an Indian.
MHO secretary-general Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim denied submitting such a memorandum to the King.
Earlier in his speech, Najib said he had been described as the “father of Indian community development” of Malaysia.
He said he paid special attention to the Indian community even before he took over as Prime Minister.
Najib said he had initiated a Cabinet committee on Indian affairs after getting the green light from then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in an effort to improve the livelihood of the Indian community.
“I realise that without any intervention or political will, the Indians will be neglected, marginalised or left behind.
“Although my father and my grandfather were not from Kerala (in India), I am still described as the father of Indian community development,” he said, taking a dig at former prime minister and Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s roots.
Najib said only the Barisan Nasional-led Federal Government had a structured national blueprint, called the Malaysian Indian Blueprint, to empower the Indians, adding that it would focus on solving three main challenges facing the community – economy, education and social issues.
“If we look at the Opposition, they do not have any blueprint for the Indians. Only Barisan has a blueprint and this is a work in progress,” he said to thunderous applause from the delegates.