Sunday, December 16, 2007

Malaysia should tacke problem of urban poor

Malaysia needs to tackle problem of urban poor: Daily

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 16 - Justifying action against an agitating Hindu
group to prevent counter-stirs by other racial groups, a Malaysian
newspaper Sunday asked the government that it should tackle on
priority the social issues concerning urban poor in the country.

The Star newspaper sought to analyse the developments since Nov 25,
when Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) staged a protest rally that
was declared illegal. Thirty-one people have been detained, of which
five top rally organizers have been held under the stringent Internal
Security Act (ISA).

The developments had invited concern from India and criticism from the
US, both of which have been resented by the Malaysian government.

'Maintaining race relations in Malaysia is not an easy job. As recent
events have shown, it is a very delicate process indeed,' the
newspaper said.

'Problems affecting the Malaysian urban poor, regardless of their
race, need to be addressed. There must be a comprehensive plan to
tackle these social concerns. It is not a consolation to use
statistics to tell the community that they are not the poorest,' The
Star observed.

It also took to task the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the largest
political party of the estimated 2.5 million Indian immigrants that
form eight percent of the 27-million population.

'The Hindraf protest was unprecedented and certainly the MIC must sit
up and listen hard,' it said.

'It has been weeks since the party (MIC) talked about setting up
hotlines to listen to the grievances of the community and we have yet
to hear details of the plan and the committee set up to analyse the
issues affecting the poor.'

Regarding action against Hindraf, the newspaper said: 'It was never a
question of whether the ISA would be used but only a question of

'The rising political temperature, fuelled by the series of illegal
protest gatherings in the federal capital, had to be cooled down. If
not, the leadership and police would probably have their hands full
trying to stop counter demonstrations by other groups,' The Star said.

'Without doubt, the recent massive demonstration by Hindraf to
highlight the economic plight of Indians struck a chord among many
Malaysians who feel the issues need to be addressed,' it stressed.

'These are legitimate concerns, particularly on education and
employment, for which the Indian community has strong sentiments.
Certainly, the leadership needs to hear them out,' it said, welcoming
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Friday meeting with 16 Indian

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