KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Feb 2009: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced several measures to assist the Indian Malaysian community and address their concerns.
To begin with, the government will put on fast track its plans to repair and rebuild dilapidated Tamil schools in the country, he said.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the Public Works Department has been allocated RM50 million for this purpose under the economic stimulus package tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on 4 Nov last year.
He said work to repair these schools would begin soon.
“The list of schools which needs to be repaired or rebuilt has been finalised. They must start work soon. They must also report back to the cabinet committee on Indian [Malaysian] affairs on the work done,” he told reporters after chairing the committee’s meeting at the Parliament house.
He also said that the government was still in the process of turning selected semi-aided Tamil schools into fully-aided ones.
“The Education Ministry will set up a small unit for this purpose. They need to review the whole thing…it is in the process,” he added.
He said the government had also asked for estimates to assist in building four Tamil schools, which had their foundations erected but did not have funds to construct the buildings.
In the stimulus package, the government also announced that RM20 million had been set aside to train and retrain Indian Malaysian youths.
“The Human Resources Ministry has identified certain courses for them. The courses will be conducted at private skills training colleges. The youth will be paid allowances and at the same time learn a new skill.
“This is done to transform rural youths who have migrated to urban areas. Skills that will be taught to them are skills like those for chefs, hair stylists, aircraft maintenance technicians…this is for them to gain employment. Those aged from 18 to 40 can apply for this,” said Najib.
Civil service representation
The government would also work to increase Indian [Malaysian] participation in the civil service, he said.
Presently, Indians constitute 4.1% of the civil service and the government wants this increased to 7.1% to reflect the nation’s racial composition.
“But in doing so, we will not set aside the principle of meritocracy,” said Najib.
The cabinet committee today also agreed that Indian Malaysian students who excelled in their studies be given Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships.
“There was also a request that more be set aside under the micro credit scheme to give out loans to small businesses. This might be done at the tabling of the mini budget or the second economic stimulus package in March,” he said.
He said other issues like increasing the equity participation of Indian Malaysians in the country’s economy would need time to be implemented.
On another note, Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional deputy chief, said the coalition’s supreme council would decide on the candidate for the Bukit Selambau state by-election in Kedah in due time.
The seat fell vacant after the resignation of V Arumugam of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, and Umno and MIC are haggling for the seat, which is traditionally given to the MIC to contest under the BN banner.
On another matter, Najib said the government took seriously allegations that the police were targeting Indians after the police shot dead six people believed to be involved in a robbery, in Kulim, Kedah, last week.
“We are taking this matter seriously. We discussed it today and we do not condone such acts against one race. If any individual is found to be abusing his power, then action will be taken,” he added. — Bernama