Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Malaysia woos ethnic-Indians, announces aid

Malaysia woos ethnic-Indians, announces aid

Posted online: Wednesday, February 06, 2008 at 1439 hrs IST
Kuala Lumpur, February 6:

The Malaysian Government has approved Rs 20 crore to rebuild or repair 22 Tamil schools attended by ethnic Indians across the country in an apparent pre-election sop to the community that held unprecedented street protests recently against alleged marginalisation.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) chief Samy Vellu, who is also the Works minister in the Abdullah Badwi government, said the allocation was to help provide a conducive environment for Tamil school students in Selangor, Kedah, Penang and Perak states.

Majority of the ethnic Indian community in this multi-ethnic country are Tamilians whose ancestors were brought to work as indentured labourers by the British 200 years ago.

Indians form 7.8 per cent of Malaysia's total population of 27 million people. Since the massive rally by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in November last year, several ethnic Indians have urged Vellu to step down after 30 years at the helm.

Amid speculation that, Vellu, whose working as the MIC chief has been criticised by a section of the ethnic Indian community, is being discarded by the ruling coalition in the comping elections, the party's deputy president Palanivel came out in support of the beleaguered leader.

Palanivel said that MIC, with 3,700 branches and 600,000 members, wanted Samy Vellu as their leader.

"Samy Vellu's mandate is till 2009 and we want him to re-contest in Sungai Siput constituency. He will win easily," he said, adding that the party was internally very strong and united.

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