Help those in need based on needs not race, says ethnic studies expert

KUALA LUMPUR: The new government should depoliticise the work done among marginalised communities and make it non-race-based, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia principal research fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.

This meant that the projects should be carried out by the civil service and not by politicians themselves using government funds, said the ethnic studies expert.

“Make the efforts as coming from the Government. And we don’t want another group to make it race-based,” he said in an interview in response to the setting up of a special task force to safeguard the interests of the Indian community, women, youths and orang asli, as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday.

The task force aims to give attention to minority groups, with the Indian community being the priority.

Dr Denison said the Government must maintain a non-ethnicity approach when addressing the issues of disadvantaged communities.

“The Indian community is one margina­lised section like the urban poor who have been neglected in terms of housing and healthcare.

“It is not peculiar to Indians. Let’s move away from the race-centric approach but based on needs, and covering all races,” he said.

It should be based on the Sustainable Development Goal, which aims to end poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change by 2030, he noted.

The Government, he said, should work out a framework in addressing the issues faced by marginalised communities.

“It should be a human rights framework rather than race-based.

“The needs of the poor in Sabah and Sarawak should also be included because the experience of marginalisation and deprivation is similar,” he said.

Dr Denison also called on the Government to review the previous government’s projects and measures and build on them where possible and depart from them if they did not bring benefits.

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