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Economics and politics

THE impact of a worsening global economy on the Indian Malaysian community; their problems with regard to official documents; and the politics in Hindraf and the MIC grabbed the attention of the Tamil press from 1 to 6 Nov 2008.

“About 100,000 people from the Indian community might lose their jobs,” Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament M Kulasegaran was quoted in Malaysia Nanban on 3 Nov. He said the current world economic slowdown would be responsible for the loss of jobs, and warned that the impact would be felt in four months.

On 3 Nov, Tamil Nesan highlighted the issue of Indian Malaysians working overseas who might also lose their jobs. The daily cited the many Indian Malaysians working in Singapore who might be retrenched and who would return to Malaysia to look for fresh employment, hence further tightening the job market here.

The newspaper also quoted Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general G Rajasekaran as saying local employers are keen on cheaper foreign labour to maximise profits. He said many employers are also using undocumented workers, who are easier to exploit.

Rajasekaran said the government should control the situation of foreign and undocumented workers in Malaysia, and must apply stricter laws to ensure employers employ local workers for jobs in Malaysia.        

On 5 Nov, Tamil Nesan reported that the Ministry of Human Resources would explore a compensation scheme for employees who lose their jobs due to the economic crisis. Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam said a decision would be made by the end of the year.

Birth certs and ICs 

In a 2 Nov report, Tamil Nesan quoted Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar as saying the National Registration Department would start mobile registration to help 30,000 Indian Malaysians who do not have their birth certificates and identity cards.

Makkal Osai quoted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a 3 Nov report as saying the welfare of the Indian community will be taken care of. Najib, who attended the Deepavali open house celebration at KL Sentral, said unity among all races in Malaysia is the country’s foundation.

On the same day, Tamil Nesan quoted Najib as saying “immediate action will be taken to resolve the issue of 30,000 Indians who have no birth certificates.” He added that a special action committee has already been set up under the Home Ministry to resolve the problem.

On 4 Nov, Malaysia Nanban carried a report titled 25 families without birth certificate and identity cards. According to the report, more than 25 families in Ayer Tawar, Perak are facing difficulties, including in securing their children’s right to education, because they do not have proper documents.

MIC elections

On 1 Nov, Makkal Osai, Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban headlined MIC elections postponed, citing unnamed sources as saying this decision was made by MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.

According to Tamil Nesan, the party’s presidential election will be held in February 2009 as planned, but for the other posts, elections are postponed from June to September 2009.

On 3 Nov, Malaysia Nanban featured a special focus on who would likely be the party’s deputy president. The report highlighted several potential candidates, including current deputy Datuk G Palanivel and former deputy Datuk Dr S Subramaniam. Also mentioned were former secretary-general Datuk S Sothinathan and Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M Saravanan. The report said, however, it is left to be seen if these individuals would contest.

Joining Pakatan Rakyat?

Malaysia Nanban reported on 1 Nov that Hindraf supporters would join the Pakatan Rakyat, and that former Penang Hindraf deputy coordinator S Sanjey said the group would announce in two weeks which party the Hindraf supporters might join.

However, the paper reported the following day that many Hindraf supporters are against joining the Pakatan Rakyat. A former Hindraf spokesperson, DR Raja from Simpang Ampat, Penang, said Hindraf was not started as a political party, and it would never join any political party. He also said no one can use Hindraf as a political platform, and warned Sanjey not to make unwarranted statements.

On 6 Nov, besides Barack Obama’s presidential victory, all three Tamil dailies reported on the protest against the Sri Lankan government at its embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Makkal Osai reported that the peaceful demonstration led by MIC Youth condemned the government killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Together with 70 non-governmental organisations, the protestors chanted “Stop killing Tamils” and “Sri Lankan government, stop killing.”

Malaysia Nanban said the embassy refused to accept the group’s memorandum.

The three Tamil dailies also reported on 5 Nov that the MIC welcomed Najib’s announcement that RM50 million would be allocated for the development of Tamil schools.

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