Place Mitra back under Prime Minister's Dept, says Ramanan

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) should be placed back under the Prime Minister's Department, said former Mitra Special Task Force Committee Chairman Datuk R Ramanan.

The call, he said, was made after taking into account the views of various parties, especially the Indian community who believe that Mitra, as an asset and arm of the Indian community, is more ‘comfortable’ being within the purview of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"The Indian community voted for this Unity Government because of Anwar Ibrahim, not because of any other minister. Let’s be clear and let’s be very honest about it, the Indian community delivered almost 90% of their votes and that's because of their trust in the Prime Minister,” he told Bernama on Sunday (March 27).

Ramanan, who is also Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Deputy Minister, said the call was also made because the infrastructure and resources under the Prime Minister's Department are more advanced compared to other ministries, thus facilitating more efficient management for the special unit.

Mitra, originally known as the Socioeconomic Development of the Indian Community (Sedic), was established in 2014 before being renamed Mitra in 2018 and placed under the National Unity Ministry.

In September 2022, it was placed within the purview of the Prime Minister's Department.

In December 2023, MIitra was once again relocated under the Unity Ministry, and in February this year, Batu MP, P Prabakaran, was appointed as new chairman of Mitra Special Task Force Committee replacing Ramanan.

Ramanan said that he did not intend to interfere in Mitra's affairs or blame the Unity Minister, but with several issues currently affecting the unit, he felt compelled to do something to safeguard the harmony of the nation and the well-being of the people, especially the Indian community.

Prior to this, several government backbenchers including RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) and V Ganabatirau (PH-Klang) expressed dissatisfaction with the ministry's decision to appoint Pemandu consulting firm to conduct a survey to formulate an action plan for Mitra.

Ramanan, who is also Sungai Buloh MP, said he saw no need for such an action plan as there were already four action plans related to the Indian community.

"Why appoint this firm? This is madness, we have been living in Malaysia for decades studying the struggles of the Indian community, we do not need such a study anymore, we already know,” he said.

In that regard, Ramanan said, he will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the direction of Mitra including proposing the relocation of the special unit under the Prime Minister's Department.

He said that he knew many Indian MPs and senators who were experienced and qualified to be appointed additional members of the Special Task Force Committee, if necessary, including Senator Lingeshwaran R. Arunasalam and RSN Rayer.

Ramanan said the Prime Minister needs to take into account the views of all Indian leaders in this matter.

"It’s not that the Prime Minister had made a wrong decision, sometimes we have to understand that the Prime Minister has many duties, not only for the Indian community, but Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, Dayak,” he said.

Previously, Ramanan said Mitra had successfully cleared its image from past allegations of mismanagement of funds following the official 'low risk' rating from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for 2023.

According to the Mitra report card infographic, it has organised 201 programmes throughout 2023 with RM19,029,325.01 spent on economic and career programmes, RM5,865,615.64 on social programmes and RM4,062,145.36 on human capital programmes. - Bernama

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