Every citizen is entitled to the path towards development, and the DAP maintains its ideals that the people should get what they deserve – growth and success regardless of race or religion. As Malaysians prepare to bid farewell to discrimination and marginalisation, we observe the touches of progress achieved by the Malaysian Indian community under Pakatan Rakyat’s banner in the recent years.
Educating the Future
Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr Ramasamy points out that PR has stepped in where BN has failed, that is, providing systematic annual funding for vernacular and missionary schools.
In Penang, the Pakatan Raktat (PR) state government set up a Tamil Schools Special Taskforce Committee to oversee Tamil education and the 28 Tamil schools in the state. Since 2008, PR has provided systematic annual grants (RM30 million since 2009) to vernacular and missionary schools. RM1.75 million was given in 2010 and 2011, the highest amount in the state’s history.
The Penang state government gave four plots of land for existing Tamil schools in areas with large Tamil-speaking population. This included a piece of prime land worth RM13 million for SRJK (T) Azad. In October 2012, Prof Ramasamy officiated the groundbreaking ceremony of SJK(T) Ladang Krian, Nibong Tebal.
Selangor too did not overlook the needs of Tamil schools. In particular, the gleaming example of SJK(T) Midlands demonstrates Pakatan Rakyat’s commitment to support vernacular education. Midlands school is the first national Tamil school to have its own 1,000 capacity convention centre. The Selangor government provided RM3 million to construct the state-of-the-art school, while the additional cost of RM1.7 million was raised by the school board.
Selangor spent RM48 million from 2009 to 2011 for various vernacular language and religious schools. In 2012 alone, RM7.82 million was allocated for religious and vernacular schools, including RM4 million for Tamil schools.
Serving Multiracial Needs
In October this year, a working committee was formed after a roundtable discussion to tackle the issue of gangsterism among Indian youths. The committee is headed by DAP’s Teluk Intan MP, M. Manogaran. Manogaran criticised the lack of political will by the federal government to address the issue. “Gangsterism is a national problem and not only confined to Indian youths. Poverty and poor education must be address to get to the root of the problem,” he said.
Since taking over administration, Penang PR has introduced multi-lingual road signs in recognistion of the melting pot multicultural heritage. Specific road signs are written in Jawi, Tamil and Chinese.
Penang also has the first Indian Deputy Chief Minister in the person of Professor Ramasamy. In October, Maheswari a/p Malayandy was the first lady to be appointed as Secretary of the Penang State Assembly.
Selangor also approved land applications for 147 sites of non-Muslim houses of worship since 2008 and gave out RM12 million to 898 religious organisations. As of March 2011, the state has approved 128ha of land for non-Muslim places of worship. (114ha for Chinese temples, 7.67ha for Hindu temples, 4.74ha for churches and 0.74ha for gurdwaras).
Penang as well has been giving contributions and land to houses of worship including RM20,000 given to Kuil Sri Maha Mariamman in Kepala Batas in May this year. In addition, all Muslim and non-Muslim houses of worship receive rebates on their water bill (RM5 for those paying less than RM50 and RM10 for those paying more than RM50).
In Selangor, the MiMBAR (urban) and SKIMSEL (rural) micro-credit schemes provide low interest loans to start small businesses. More than 5,000 applicants have benefited from the scheme and a total of RM20 million has been disbursed, many to women.
In addition, Selangor also offers a specific microcredit scheme for women who work in plantations (WALA) to kickstart or expand their part-time businesses. The micro loans of up to RM3,000 will assist the women to reduce reliance on the plantation economy and give them a leg up to increasing economic mobility.
Selangor has also provided an Education Fund to assist children of estate workers to obtain scholarships to study selected courses in INPENS college. Vocational and tertiary education offers the younger generation an opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle and improve their future socio-economic prospects.
In Penang, the Hindu Endowment Board is the only such board in the country and has been given a RM1 million annual allocation by the state government. This has enabled the board to expand its role beyond managing Hindu temples to giving assistance and aid to students. HEB gave out scholarships worth RM114,000 in 2010 and RM200,000 in 2011 to deserving students in Penang. -The Rocket