Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ethnic Indian NGOs in Malaysia seek 'policy of inclusion'

Ethnic Indian NGOs in Malaysia seek 'policy of inclusion'

Kuala Lumpur (PTI): A coalition of ethnic Indian NGOs on Thursday asked the Malaysian government to immediately initiate a "policy of inclusion" to ensure that the community was involved in all levels of the decision making process in the country.

"All of us acknowledge that there are issues of very grave concern facing the Indian community in Malaysia. Socio- economic woes, the constant attacks on freedom of religion and the unfeeling manner in which Hindu temples have been demolished of late have left the Indian community in Malaysia feeling depressed and fearful," A Vaithilingam, a spokesman for the Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs, told reporters.

He said the NGOs had presented Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi a statement last week listing out proposed reforms for disadvantaged ethnic Indians. The umbrella group also sought the setting up of an independent non-political task force to develop specific programmes for the uplift of ethnic Indians.

While demanding the government immediately initiate a "policy of inclusion", the NGOs sought an increase in recruitment and promotion of the number of 'non-Bumiputeras', especially Indians, employed in decision making positions in education and other sectors. Bumiputeras, which literally means sons of the soil, are Malays.

The woes being faced by the ethnic Indian community in Malaysia for decades came to the forefront when the non-governmental group Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) organised a massive rally on November 25 bringing together more than 20,000 members of the community to protest against their alleged marginalisation. Five leaders of Hindraf have been detained under the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial for a long period of time.

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