Saturday, January 5, 2008

Coalition of 120 Malaysian Indian NGOs recommend urgent reforms

Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs recommend urgent reforms to support disadvantaged Indian-Malaysians

Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs,
No. 67, Jalan P JS 1/48,
Taman Petaling Utama 7
46150 Petaling Jaya
Tel. 03-77844668/4669/4244
Fax. 03-7784 7304

Preliminary Statement by 70 Indian NGOs: Urgent reforms for disadvantaged Indian-Malaysians

We, on behalf of the non-political, non-governmental organisations mentioned below, have prepared this preliminary statement to bring to Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri’s attention a pressing issue of national importance.
Recent events indicate that a large number of Indian-Malaysians, particularly the youth and the disadvantaged, feel marginalized and alienated from the mainstream development and progress of our nation. They are looking for just treatment, and for a government machinery at all levels that understands and empathises with their concerns so as to effectively address them.
We view this as a wake up call for all and as an opportunity for us as a nation to take a fresh look at our institutions in order to achieve our aspirations of becoming a developed nation. In the light of this, very crucially there must be a structural change in the implementing agency—i.e. a world class civil service composed of decision makers reflecting the diversity of our multiracial society.
We are currently preparing a more comprehensive memorandum, including matters not stated below, which will be submitted to you at our next meeting.
For the moment, we would suggest the following immediate steps be taken:

No. Proposal Under the purview of:
1. Non Political Independent Task Force
1.1. Establish an independent, non-political Task Force made up of 9 members to help the Prime Minister design and develop specific programmes based on the following proposals. The terms of reference of the Task Force should include undertaking the programmes, monitoring, evaluating and submitting periodical reports on the implementation and progress. Prime Minister’s Office
2. Temple demolitions: moratorium pending guidelines
2.1. Short term:
2.1.1 Moratorium on demolitions of places of worship throughout the country pending the formulation of comprehensive guidelines in consultation with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (“MCCBCHST”) and relevant authorities Ministry of Housing & Local Government
State Government
Local Authorities
2.1.2 Gazette qualifying places of worship as heritage sites under the National Heritage Act 2005 Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage
2.2. Long term:
2.2.1 Need to ensure land is alienated for all existing established places of worship, and allocate land for the places of worship of all communities in new developments with funding by the developer or the authorities concerned Federal & State Governments
3. Education: Towards national unity and integration
3.1. Short term:
3.1.1 All Tamil schools to be fully funded by the government. Ministry of Education
3.1.2 Pupil’s own language lessons should be made available from the 2008 school year in all national secondary schools irrespective of the number of students. Ministry of Education
3.1.3 Increase the proportion of non-Malay students in residential schools. Residential schools should be a model of all aspects of multi racial Malaysia. In particular, places of worship for students, food, culture, composition of teaching and administrative staff and all other areas must reflect the diversity of Malaysia’s population. Ministry of Education
3.1.4 Increase the number of Indian students admitted into vocational and technical schools. Ministry of Education
Ministry of Human Resources
3.1.5 Increase by way of recruitment and promotion the number of non Bumiputeras, especially Indians, employed in decision making positions in the education service at all levels - national, state, district and school. This would be a proactive measure to create national unity amongst students in schools and end ethnic polarization.
Ministry of Education
3.2. Long term:
3.2.1 Acquire/Alienate land in areas with high concentration of Indians, so under-enrolled Tamil schools can be relocated to serve the needs of the community. Ministry of Education
3.2.2 Increase the number of places at public universities for marketable degrees while maintaining global admission standards for deserving students from all races. More equitable participation in tertiary education for Indians, especially in critical courses. Ministry of Higher Education
3.2.3 Admission to public universities should be based on a common entry exam. Ministry of Higher Education
4. Economic measures: Empower the urban disadvantaged
4.1. Short term:
4.1.1 Ensure that suitable and affordable housing is made available on an equitable basis to disadvantaged Indian households. Ministry of Housing
State & Local authorities
4.1.2 Provide sufficient financial assistance, grants, training and credit facilities to all deserving and disadvantaged groups so that they may grab the ladder of opportunity and become self reliant. For example, facilities and privileges now given to Bumiputera petty traders must be extended to Indians and all other deserving applicants. Ministry of Finance
Entrepeneurship Ministry
4.1.3 Provide sufficient trade licenses (e.g. taxis, hawkers, petty traders etc) to all deserving applicants irrespective of race, with a particular emphasis on ensuring equitable distribution to Indians. Relevant ministries & Local authorities
4.1.4 Implement specific, tangible and targeted anti-poverty programmes to uplift and empower urban low income groups, in particular displaced and disadvantaged Indians. For example, extend the skills training programmes currently available to Bumiputera to all deserving youth and young adults. Mechanism to be set up to publicise, educate and enlist Indians to participate in such marketable skills training programmes. Ministry of Education & Ministry of Human Resources
4.2. Medium to Long term:
4.2.1 Implementation of the policies in respect of the Indian community which were approved by the Majlis Perundingan Ekonomi Negara 1991 (MAPEN 1991) and the 9th Malaysia Plan. A comprehensive plan of action for this should be announced within 3 months. PMO
Task Force
4.2.2 Implementation of an affirmative action programme in Malaysia for all disadvantaged Malaysians.
5. Other measures
5.1. Establish a Community Development Fund under the Prime Minister’s Office to be administered by the proposed Task Force. Provide incentives to independent, non political NGOs to implement community empowerment programmes. Among the areas of concern are the problems affecting single mothers, orphans, homelessness, and squatters. Indian based NGOs in particular should be given funding and other incentives to address problems where Indians are disproportionately affected. PMO
Task Force
5.2. Implement the legislative reforms proposed by the MCCBCHST in their Memorandum dated 20 October 2005 entitled “Respect the Right to Profess and Practice One’s Religion” immediately. At the moment, these reforms are being considered by the Law Reform division of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Attorney General’s Chambers
5.3. Religious programmes on State owned radio and television, in Bahasa Malaysia and in all the vernacular languages, should recognize similar values preached in other religions and not suggest that the universal values shared by all religions are only unique to Islam. There should also be religious programmes on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. Ministry of Information
5.4. All national schools to ensure religious and cultural classes for non Muslims, by teachers sanctioned by the religions concerned, as part of the curriculum. In addition, civic studies should be introduced for all students irrespective of race and religion.

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