MIC leader Dr S Subramaniam has described the series of measures unveiled by the government recently to help the Indian community as a sign that it never marginalised the community.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has announced several policies to help uplift the community’s opportunity in the fields of education, business and civil service.
The announcement was made by the deputy premier after chairing the cabinet meeting on Indian community. Also present were various government agencies and MIC top guns like party president S Samy Vellu.
Subramaniam, who is the party secretary-general and human resources minister, acknowledged the announcement was a government response to the March 8 polls result.
“As a responsible government, not only has it responded to the message (by voters), it also sent the message back to the community that ‘look here, we never intended to marginalise you’.”
“We (government) have been helping (the community) and if there are issues now, we will continue to address them and we are sincere in wanting to address them,” said Subramaniam during an interview at his ministerial office in Parliament earlier this week.
‘Major achievement’ for MIC
He described the outcome of the meeting as a “major achievement” for the MIC and praised the government for their commitment to address the Indian community’s problem.
“The government has been very sensitive to the requirement of the community and is actually committed to address the Indian community’s problem so that it can be at par with the other communities,” Subramaniam said on the outcome of the meeting.
The MIC suffered it worst electoral outing in the last general election, having only won three parliamentary seats out of 140 that the ruling BN controlled. Samy Vellu also lost his Sungai Siput seat which he held since 1974.
Among the key decisions or those agreed in principle by the government at the cabinet committee include:
- To convert 372 partially-aided Tamil schools into fully-assisted schools.
- Consolidate schools which had an enrolment of less than 50 students.
- To ensure at least eight percent of Indian representation at all levels in the civil service. To achieve that, it will also see more promotions for Indian civil servants.
- The MIC-run Asian Institute for Medicine, Science and Technology (Aimst) to be re-categorised as one of the five private universities which recognise government-sponsored students to boost the intake of Indian students into critical sectors like medicine and engineering. At present, students who receive government scholarship were only given a list of choice of universities which does not include Aimst.
- To allow Indian contractors to take part in government projects at all levels. For government’s mega projects, it is suggested that certain sub-contract jobs be given to Indian contractors.
- Indian entrepreneurs to be given more opportunities in the development of vendor development scheme through companies like state-owned oil firm Petronas and national car-maker Proton.
- Easier access to government loans for Indian entrepreneurs.
- More taxi and bus permits for Indian companies.
- To increase the Indian corporate equity from the current 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent in 2010. To do this, the government is planning to set up a unit trust scheme based on the Permodalan Nasional Berhad model to allow Indians to invest in the scheme to increase their equity in the market.
Grab the opportunity
Elaborating, Subramaniam said the cabinet committee will have a monitoring team, led by his ministry, to check implementation progress of these policies.
He also called on the Indian community to take up what was offered by the government.
“It's for the community to move forward now and avail themselves to these opportunities. Of course the opportunity can be given but the person must also take the initiative to come forward,” said the MIC leader.
To another question, Subramaniam said bumiputeras are not affected with the government’s decision to give certain government projects to Indian contractors.
“It will be done in a way that will not be detrimental to the bumiputera community as far as their opportunity or rights is concerned,” he added.