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THE ASPIRATIONS AND DEMANDS OF MALAYSIAN INDIANS

Prepared by :

Group of Concerned Citizens
47-2 Jalan Thambipillai
50470 Kuala Lumpur.

RATIONALE

The ASPIRATIONS AND DEMANDS of the Malaysian Indians need to be made current and popular at this juncture of Malaysian History for three critically important reasons:

a. The heightened perception of a large section of the  community of the marginalisation and powerlessness of the group.

b. The political opportunity that is available today to frontally confront the problem of marginalisation and powerlessness of the Indian community

c. The opportunity to transform the ASPIRATIONS AND DEMANDS of the Malaysian Indians from a communal issue to a national issue that needs active governmental attention and interventions.

THE ASPIRATIONS AND DEMANDS OF THE MALAYSIAN INDIANS

The effects of the prolonged marginalisation from mainstream development of the Malaysian Indians (MI) are clear from various reports, studies and discussions. In seeking to redress the present dilemma , the aspirations and demands of the MI are as follows:

1. POLITICAL DIMENSION

The MI have played less than a token role in the national politics of the country since independence. The role played by MIC on communal line lacked bargaining power. It is recognised that the lack of electoral support at communal level without even one constituency having a majority to determine the outcome of any election has  placed MIC at political obscurity. Thus causing the MI political representative in the Barisan National to become beholden to   UMNO or the status quo.

The political rights of MI can only be protected by non-communal politics. The communal politics of Alliance and Barisan Nasional has alienated the MI from all instruments of power. The right of MI to exist with equal rights as citizens has become a way of co-existence with "take what is given".

The MI aspire a non-communal party system in which the rights minorities can be guaranteed. In  the absence of a non-communal scenario the MI demand for reserved seats at all levels (Federal, State, cabinet and local councils and authorities) in all elections for MI and other minorities in proportions.

The MI demand that the  constitutional right to citizenship, voting, freedom of expression, mother tongue education, religious and cultural practices be reaffirmed and enlarged with the ideals of democracy.

2. ECONOMIC DIMENSION

The country's growth and wealth is more than sufficient to cater for the needs of all Malaysians. Even if it is insufficient the way forward is to share the resources. The economic development policies should address among other things the following:

a. All workers in the country should be protected with provisions that ensures decent living wage and housing. The import of foreign labour should be checked until such time the real wages of local workers commensurate a decent living wage and the local man power is under full employment .  All forms of daily rated and exploitative wage schemes prevalent in the plantations and elsewhere should be abolished. The freedom of association of workers and formation of unions must be guaranteed.

b. Intervention programmes to eradicate poverty and redistribution of wealth should be for all Malaysians. A commission comprising of government as well as representatives from different communities and opposition political parties must be formed for implementation and  monitoring. The poverty eradication and wealth distribution programmes should target to reduce the income disparity level to that of countries in similar economic standing in the world.

c. The employment market is segmented on communal lines. The desired level of participation of MI in the civil service and private sector require governmental intervention.

d. Business opportunities in SMI, permits, licences, contracts and other forms economic opportunities should be accessible and made available  for MI and other minorities. The base capital for businesses of the needy MI should be made available through financial institutions.

3. EDUCATION

Education should be made as right of every citizen and should not be privatised or corporatised and be made accessible to all at all levels. Education is one way for the upward mobility of MI and other minorities and the MI is need of intervention programmes. Policies on intervention programmes for MI and other backward communities should be monitored by a commission on education comprising of government, community representatives and opposition political representatives. The demands are as follows:

a. Early childhood development programmes through the various ministries (Education, Welfare, Rural Development/Prime Ministers dept.) must reach out to all areas and all races. The programme should be addressed in the language of the local community. In this regard there should be training programmes for all existing child minders and a salaried scheme to child minders working in poverty areas.

b. Primary and lower secondary (std 1 - form3) education must made compulsory and meaningful.

c. All government aided primary Tamil schools and fully aided Tamil schools  must be given equal status as SK schools in terms of allocation, expansion, IT education, training programmes and all other forms of support. This recognition and assistance should be implemented immediately.

d. The existence and operation of all Tamil schools must be guaranteed and alternative schools must be built prior to the closing down of any Tamil school.

e. The free entry into residential schools, vocational training centres, colleges, institutes and universities must be reserved for MI and other backward communities in proportion for a minimum period of time until economic policy reforms evolve the desired outcome for equal footing in education and economy.

f. The use of Tamil as a medium of instruction in SRK (T), as examination subjects up to tertiary levels of education must be guaranteed. The existence of Tamil in the Universities for the purpose of literary research, training, teaching and promotion of Tamil culture must further supported and guaranteed. Tamil as a optional language in primary and secondary schools under POL schemes be abolished and instead mother tongue education for MI be made compulsory.

4. HOUSING

The MI and other backward communities are in need of subsidised and affordable housing schemes. The housing needs of the plantation community and the urban settlers must be addressed. The government must declare one family one house concept in the housing development agenda to curb speculative demand until the core housing needs are fulfilled. Housing for the citizens  be made as the governments responsibility and not be left to the discretion of the private sectors.

5. RELIGION AND CULTURE
 
The MI culture and their religious practices are diverse and interwoven. Only a non-communal approach to the issue will ever make one to appreciate and accept another individual's right to worship and practice his religion in accordance with his belief. The essence of developing such sensitivity should come from the respect for fellow human being. The national policy for racial integration should address this issue in much more detail. The MI demand the following:

a. All places of worship in line with principles of Rukun Negara be legalised. Government grants be made available for the construction and maintenance of temples and other places of worship.

b. The government must provide places of worship by allocating land and building temples where there is a concentration of population in new housing schemes.

c. The freedom and right to organise religious and cultural events be guaranteed.

d. The government mass-media incorporate MI religious needs in its programmes. Religion is a fundamental right of a community, the promotion of religion will help build stronger moral values. Religious songs, speeches, drams and movies be aired and screened in the radio  and TV.

sountek
     
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