Saturday, January 5, 2008

Malaysia Hindu Sangam seeks urgent reforms for disadvantaged Indian-Malaysians

Malaysia Hindu Sangam seeks urgent reforms for disadvantaged Indian-Malaysians

Over 120 Indian NGOs call for Urgent Reforms for Disadvantaged Indian Malaysians

Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs
No. 67 Jalan P JS 1/48
Tamal 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.

Spokesperson : Datuk A Vaithilingam as chairman of the organisations listed in the attachment at a Press Conference on Thursday, 3rd January 2008.

I am here today as chairman of a group of more than 120 Indian based non governmental organisations.

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. There is, without doubt, a serious problem. It is one that we are committed to overcoming. We hear the pleas of those who were forced by their circumstances to protest recently. We are anxious to work together with all Malaysians to build a better home for all of us.

To that end, I would like to thank our Prime Minister for having shown his caring attitude and acted very quickly on some of the issues raised by Indian NGOs at our meeting with him on 14th December 2007.

In that regard, we take note the release of 5 students unconditionally and of 26 others on bail, and the dropping of the attempted murder charges.

In tandem with the above we hope the 5 persons detained under the Internal Security Act would be immediately released and if at all their actions are criminal in nature, they should be charged in Court and allowed to defend themselves.

We are confident that the Prime Minister will give due consideration to the aspirations and views of NGOs who deal with the grassroots.

We are also pleased to hear that temples to be demolished due to development would be allocated acceptable alternate sites before such action is taken and that the Government has decided to allocate payments for the construction of such temples.

The NGOs who have come together are some of the most influential and hardworking who have deep roots within the community. Some of them have independently submitted numerous Memorandums to the government citing the plight of the Indians and proposed objectives remedies which was not fully acted upon.

The non action of the government has led to one of the major discontentments which is the feeling of alienation. In this respect we request the government to immediately initiate a “Policy of Inclusion” which must ensure the participation of Indians in all levels of decision making process.

Looking forward we have come to a consensus on some specific immediate measures in the short term and some broad policy statements for the long term for implementation by the Prime Minister and Government. This initiative covers a proposal on the setting up of an Independent Non Political Task Force to design and develop specific programmes with respect to the suggested proposals.

These proposals include among others a moratorium on demolition of places of worship, education, economic opportunities and employment. Further It also includes the setting up of a Community Development Fund to be managed by the aforementioned Task Force to provide incentives to independent, non political NGOs to implement community empowerment programmes.

We have submitted this “Preliminary Statement: Urgent reforms for disadvantaged Indian-Malaysians” directly to the Prime Minister’s Office on the 28th December 2007, a copy of the same is attached herewith.

We are confident that these proposals will receive due consideration, and look forward to seeing its immediate implementation. We have no doubt that if all parties work together sincerely, all Malaysians will support these nation building efforts to develop our unity and harmony in our country.

Dated 3rd January 2008

Datuk A Vaithilingam
for and on behalf of the Indian based organisations listed below

Organisation Members of Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs (CMIO)

1. Malaysia Hindu Sangam (inclusive of 1761 Hindu Temples)
2. Sri Murugan Centre
3. Educational, Welfare and Research Foundation Malaysia
4. Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
5. Child Information, Learning and Development Centre
6. Malaysian Hindu Youth Council
7. Temple of Fine Arts Malaysia
8. Majlis Kelab Bell Belia Tamil Malaysia
9. Malaysian Indian Business Association
10. Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram
11. Persatuan Telugu Malaysia
12. All Malaysia Malayalee Association
13. Yayasan Penyelidikan dan Pembangunan Pendidikan Tamil Malaysia (Tamil Foundation)
14. Education and Research Association of Consumer, Malaysia
15. Malaysian Dravidian Association
16. Malaysian Archagar Sangam
17. Group of Concerned Citizens
18. Saiva Siddhanta Mandram Malaysia
19. Malaysia Hindu Sevai Sangam
20. Malaysian Indian Development Association
21. Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates
22. Federation of Indian Non-Governmental Organisations
23. Rudra Devi Samaj Malaysia
24. Malaysia Arulneri Thirukootam
25. Malaysian Indian Metal Traders Association
26. Persatuan Sangkara Malaysia
27. Malaysian Indian Entrepreneurs and Professionals
28. Malaysian Indian Historical Association
29. Nationwide Human Development and Research Centre
30. Thiruvarul Thavaneri Mandram Malaysia
31. Persatuan Meditasi Malaysia (Dhyana Ashram)
32. Malaysian Indian Youth Development Foundation
33. Malaysian Ceylon Saivites Association
34. Klang Consumer Association
35. Penang Indian Entrepreneurs and Professionals
36. Thiruvalluvar Nanneri Mayam Cameron Highlands
37. Persatuan Kebajikan Dan Sosial Kamakshi Wilayah Utara
38. Divine Life Society PJ
39. World Tamil Federation – Malaysian Chapter
40. Malaysia Indian Progressive Educational Society
41. Malaysia Thanavasiya Association
42. Astronomical Research Society of Selangor State
43. Malaysian Indian Development & Unity Association
44. Malaysia Lekshmi Pooja Meditation Society
45. Persatuan Kebajikan Namakkal Malaysia
46. Selangor Indian Entrepreneurs and Professionals
47. The New Millennium Indian Business Association of Malaysia
48. Persatuan Kebajikan Vanniar Malaysia
49. Persatuan Prihatin Belia Malaysia
50. Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
51. Persatuan Seni Kebudayaan Thamil, Pulau Pinang
52. Pure Life Society
53. Saiva Sivaneri Mandram Malaysia
54. Malaysia Tamil Neri Kalagam
55. Gayathrie Peedam Malaysia
56. Malaysian Tamil Artiste Association
57. Sundararaja Perumal Devasthanam Klang
58. Centre of Education. Research and Development (CEDAR)
59. Malaysia Hindu Associates of Graduates
60. Persatuan Silambam Malaysia
61. Athi Shankarar Thirupeedam
62. Panniru Thirumurai Valarchi Maiyam
63. Indian Builders Association of Malaysia
64. Persatuan Mukkulatthor Malaysia
65. Indian Malaysian Active Generation (IMAGE)
66. Kuala Lumpur Hindu Youth Organisation (KLHYO)
67. Tamilar Sangam, Teluk Intan
68. Kuala Lumpur Indian Entrepreneurs and Professionals
69. Gabungan Pertubuhan-pertubuhan Masyarakat India Selangor
70. Penang Hindu Saba
71. Persatuan Belia & Rekreasi India Daerah Timur Laut Pulau Pinang
72. Persatuan India Bandar Farlim
73. Penang Indian Contractor Association
74. Persatuan Kebajikan MGR
75. Saiva Nartpani Mandram Malaysia
76. Persatuan dewan Perniagaan India Perak
77. Persatuan Pengedar Akhbar Tamil Perak
78. Persatuan Pon Pavalar Mandram Ipoh
79. Persatuan Tamilar Thirunaal Setiawan Perak
80. Persatuan Vallalaar Anbu Nilayam
81. Persatuan Paavanar Tamil Mandram Ipoh
82. Kelab Bell Belia India Tamil Perak
83. Kelab Belia India Tamil Gopeng
84. Persatuan Bekas Guru-guru India Perak
85. Yayasan Pembangunan Bahasa Tamil Negeri Perak
86. Persatuan Thiruvalluvar Natpani Iyakkam Perak
87. Persatuan Pergabung Tamil Malaysia
88. Persatuan Tamilar Sangam Ipoh
89. Persatuan Aruloli Mandram, Malaysia
90. Persatuan Kebajikan Artis-artis Tamil Perak
91. Ipoh Arulneri Thirukootam
92. Naveena Ilakkya Sinthanai Air Tawar
93. Fedarasi Kaum Tamil Sedunia Malaysia
94. Persatuan Kebajikan India Malaysia
95. Pertubuhan Penganut Ajaran Sri Vaisana Paribala Sabha Malaysia
96. Persatuan Kebajikan Masyarakat dan Social Kaum India
97. Sri Vadivelu Culture & Welfare Associatiion State of Selangor
98. Selangor Indian Video Graphics Association
99. Persatuan Kebajikan Bharatham Selangor
100. Pertubuhan Kesedaran Hare Krishna Klang
101. Persatuan Pembaca Tamil Klang
102. Klang Valarum Kalai Pannai
103. Vishnu Periyaval Sabai
104. Pamban Swami Maha Teja Mandala Sabai
105. Seremban Tamilar Sangam
106. Nadaraikia Sangam, Selangor State
107. Persahabatan Semparuthi
108. Johor Tamizhar Sangam
109. Persatuan Kebajikan India Johor
110. Persatuan Kelab Bell Belia Tamil Taman Universiti Johor Bahru
111. Persatuan Telegu Malaysia Cawangan Negeri Johor
112. Persatuan Teksi dan Kereta Sewa India Johor
113. Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kemasyarakatan Tamil Simpang Renggam
114. Persatuan Artis Tamil Malaysia Negeri JOHOR
115. Kebajikan Tamil Thalabathy Johor Bahru
116. Persatuan Penduduk Taman Bukit Indah
117. Persatuan Penduduk-Penduduk Kaum India Nusa Bestari II
118. Persatuan Penduduk-Penduduk Kaum India Pasir Gudang
119. Persatuan Penduduk-Penduduk Kaum India Permas Jaya
120. Child Development Initiative

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