Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Malaysian move against ethnic Indian workers

“No Malaysian move against Indian workers”
P. S. Suryanarayana

KUALA LUMPUR: Top Malaysian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, have not conveyed to Defence Minister A. K. Antony, who concluded a three-day visit here on Tuesday, any message about an actual or imminent freeze on the recruitment of Indian workers and professionals at this stage.

Instead, the issue of firming up a Malaysia-India memorandum of understanding on the intake and welfare of Indian labour figured in the talks between Mr. Antony and his Malaysian interlocutors. Sources told The Hindu that there was no mention of any move or decision to stop the flow of Indian workers and professionals into Malaysia.
Mr. Antony, who came here to take India-Malaysia cooperation in the defence domain to a new high, called on Mr. Abdullah on Tuesday after holding talks with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak and Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar on Monday.

Sources said the two sides discussed the issue of expediting the conclusion of a bilateral MoU on the recruitment and welfare of Indian labour.

However, no decision on this issue, unrelated to defence matters, was announced during Mr. Antony’s visit.

Council complaint

The question of a freeze on recruitment surfaced here after a Malaysian Home Ministry official was quoted, in some reports, as having indicated that a circular had been issued to that effect. This followed a press release by A.Vaithilingam, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism.

Mr. Vaithilingam said the council “is shocked that the [Malaysian] Immigration Department has suddenly ceased to issue work permits [in regard] to new applications for [recruitment of] foreign priests, temple musicians, and sculptors.”
A spokesman of the Council told The Hindu that the non-governmental group had not, however, seen any official circular. The Foreign Ministry, too, was not aware of any such decision, according to other sources.


Abdullah, Antony see momentum in defence ties as positive development
P.S. Suryanarayana
— Photo: AFP

Emerging equation: Defence Minister A.K. Antony with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he called on the latter at Putrajaya in Malaysia on Tuesday. Mr. Antony is in Malaysia on a three-day visit aimed at enhancing the defence relations.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hailed his country’s emerging equation with India as “a strategic partnership,” when Defence Minister A.K. Antony called on him at Putrajaya, near here, on Tuesday.
Mr. Antony later described his meeting with Mr. Abdullah as a “cordial and fruitful” engagement.

There was no immediate word on the talks from the Malaysian side.

Asked whether the current issues concerning the ethnic Indian minority in Malaysia figured in these talks, Mr. Antony did not comment.

However, the talks are understood to have covered the present links between India and Malaysia in the historical and cultural perspective.

Ethnic Indian issue

The ethnic Indian issue was discussed when Mr. Antony met Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak who, later noted that India was “aware of the political developments in Malaysia.”

Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Antony noted that the new momentum in defence cooperation “is a very positive development,” official sources said.

Bilateral trade

The two leaders voiced “satisfaction” over the growth in bilateral trade and wanted to see the progress towards an early commencement of negotiations for an India-Malaysia comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

Free trade agreement

With Malaysia co-chairing the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean)-India trade negotiating committee, the two leaders agreed that their talks on a free trade agreement should be completed soon.

The talks were held in “a warm and cordial atmosphere,” the sources said.

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