Many obstacles along the path to progress


I REFER to “RM2mil allocation for hardcore poor Indian students approved” (The Star, Sept 19; online at https://bit.ly/3f4htYr).

When announcing the allocation, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob also mentioned other programmes that are in the pipeline, including the establishment of a special Cabinet committee, to help the Malaysian Indian community.

The socioeconomic development of the Indian community, specifically the B40 group, is an ongoing issue that has been consistently brought to the attention of the government and its succession of prime ministers for decades.

Thus far, however, there has been much talk but little success achieved even after the launch of the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) in 2017.

The MIB, which was launched by then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has four core strategies, one of which is the economic uplifting of the Indian community across all layers of society through skills training, entrepreneur development, business support, and increase in availability of capital and equity ownership.

Recently, it was reported that the MIB would be fine-tuned by a body known as the Malaysian Indian Consultative Council under the leadership of MIC president Tan Sri SA. Vigneswaran. Its implementation was purportedly derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Ismail Sabri also announced that Mitra (Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit) would be brought under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. Currently under the National Unity Ministry, there have been allegations of corruption involving grants that were given to Mitra, as reported in “MACC proposes to charge those involved in Mitra scandal” (The Star, Feb 8, 2022; online at https://bit.ly/3SmdcxS).

Whether Mitra, which is supposed to receive an annual grant of RM100mil from the government, will function more effectively under the Prime Minister’s Department remains to be seen.

The MIC leadership must be bold in carrying out the implementation of the MIB. As it is, there have been complaints recently about Indian students not being accepted into matriculation programmes despite scoring 9As in their SPM examination. How can one speak about inclusiveness or being a Malaysian Family when things like this happen?

No doubt former MIC leader Tun S. Samy Vellu, who passed away recently, did a lot to help the community. He was instrumental in the establishment of TAFE College and the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) University, and MIED (Maju Institute of Education Development), which provided study loans to poor students undertaking tertiary education.

His legacy must be enhanced by the current MIC leadership. These leaders must continue to fight for policies to improve the lot of the community, including their struggle for better economic livelihoods, education (including Tamil schools) and citizenship.

I would also propose that Indian youths be coaxed to participate in sports to prevent them from being involved in gangsterism.

C. SATHASIVAM SITHERAVELLU

Seremban

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