The claim that the Indian community is not given a fair chance to hold tops posts in government-linked companies (GLCs) is not true, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

Najib, who is also finance minister, said that 17,507 or 7.9 per cent of the 222,382 employees in the 20 biggest and listed GLCs were of Indian descent.

"A total of 175 employees or 5.1 per cent hold top management posts (managers and above) in the GLCs," he said in his written reply in the Dewan Rakyat to Dr P. Ramasamy (DAP-Batu Kawan) who wanted to know why the Indians are not given a fair chance to hold top posts like that of manager in the GLCs.

Najib said the GLCs did not impose any racial quota in recruitment or promotion and key appointments were based on merit, experience, expertise and suitability, not on ethnic background.

"This is to ensure that the GLCs have really qualified and capable top managements," he said.

The Hindu Rights Action Force’s (Hindraf) is organising a nationwide protest in a final bid to force the DAP-led Penang government to save what they claim is the last Indian cultural heritage village on the island.

On Wednesday, the outlawed organisation, which was credited with delivering the bulk of Indian votes to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in last year’s general elections, will mobilise its members to gather outside Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office at Komtar.

They plan to burn an effigy of the DAP secretary-general.

Others will also protest the forced eviction and demolition of Kampung Buah Pala at DAP headquarters in Ipoh, Petaling Jaya and Seremban.

National coordinator S. Jayathas told The Malaysian Insider that the drastic action was warranted as the demolition would take place on Thursday and Hindraf needed to show its seriousness in the matter.

“If PR state governments can give land to Chinese and Malays, then why not Indians? If they cannot even solve this, then what is the different between Umno and DAP?” he said.

Hindraf supporters have in recent months expressed dissatisfaction at PR due to what is perceived as broken promises.

The bulk of Indian voters had supported the fledgling alliance in hopes that it would rectify the disenfranchisement felt by the Indian community.

A number of Hindraf members led by former Hindraf leader RS Thanenthiran have also formed the Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party, a breakaway party that appears friendly towards Barisan Nasional.

Kampung Buah Pala, sits on a 2.6ha piece of prime land in the rapidly developing eastern Georgetown.

The current 300 villagers and their ancestors, mostly of Tamil origins, have been living in the village for nearly 200 years.

A few weeks ago, Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar had called on Lim to use his powers as chief minister to save Kampung Buah Pala from developers as provided in Section 76 of the National Land Code.

He said that Lim could do so “with a stroke of the pen” and provide a different plot of land to the developers should it be unable to pay compensation.

The residents association have also offered to buy the land from the state government.

Besides the Government, all strata of Malaysian society must commit to the challenge of transforming the concept into reality by bridging existing gaps.

IN his royal address in conjunction with the King’s birthday on June 6, 2009, His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, called upon all Malaysians to make the ‘1Malaysia’ concept central to their lives.

On the same occasion, the proponent of the concept, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, made it explicitly clear that in its quest for national unity, 1Malaysia will be guided by the Malaysian Constitution.

This clarification is important since it defines what the 1Malaysia quest is and what it is not.

1Malaysia acknowledges that there are certain underlying socio-political ideas in the Constitution which will shape its journey towards a nation that is truly united in diversity.

One of them is the idea that the multi-ethnic Malaysia of today with its principle of common citizenship has evolved from Malay Sultanates and other indigenous entities, suggesting that our Constitution integrates the past with the present. Related to this evolution is the attempt to balance the rights and interests of the various communities.

United we stand: Children dressed in traditional clothes taking part in the 50th Merdeka celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, reflecting unity in diversity.

Thus, while Malay is the sole official and national language, the use and study of other languages is also protected in the Constitution; while Islam is the religion of the Federation, the freedom to practise other religions is also safeguarded; while the special position of the Malays and other indigenous peoples is enshrined in the Constitution, it also guarantees the legitimate interests of the other communities. This equilibrium is a vital dimension in the nation’s philosophy of, and approach to, national unity.

It is reinforced by a third idea. The Constitution recognises the importance of principles, processes and institutions that transcend ethnic interests in holding the nation together. Civil liberties, common electoral rolls and multi-ethnic legislatures would be some examples.

IMalaysia’s lineage is not confined to the Malaysian Constitution. The Rukunegara with its commitment to national unity, among other goals, and the New Economic Policy (NEP) that had pledged to eradicate poverty irrespective of ethnicity and restructure society in order to reduce the identification of ethnicity with economic function are part of its heritage.

So is Wawasan 2020 which enunciates “a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny” as the first of its nine central strategic challenges.

Series of ideas and visions

1Malaysia, it is apparent, is the latest in a whole series of ideas and visions which seek to promote unity among our diverse communities.

It is significant that they have emerged at regular intervals in our history – the Rukunegara and NEP 13 years after the 1957 Constitution; Wawasan 2020, 21 years after the Rukunegara and the NEP; and now 1Malaysia, 18 years after Wawasan 2020.

They represent renewal and rededication to an ideal which continues to elude the nation.

One of the reasons why we are nowhere near our goal of a united nation is because there has been no attempt to inculcate in our people a profound understanding and appreciation of the Constitution or the Rukunegara or Wawasan 2020.

That is why 51 years after Merdeka, a huge segment of the non-Malay population refuses to acknowledge the Malay root of the nation’s identity even though it is so much a part of our political and cultural landscape.

Likewise, a sizeable section of the Malay population is reluctant to recognise the legitimacy of the non-Malay yearning for equality inherent in their status as long domiciled citizens of the land.

Of course, developing a deeper understanding of the nation’s documents of destiny among its citizens is not a panacea.

There should be constant efforts to bridge the gulf between Constitutional principles and the goals of the Rukunegara, on the one hand, and the realities that confront the lives of our people, on the other, especially in relation to national unity. More than that, the government and other actors should address the causes behind this failure to live up to national goals and principles with courage and integrity.

Drive for unity

Malaysians hope that 1Malaysia will be different; that there will be greater drive and determination to unite our people at a more concrete and substantive level. Given the current situation, there are perhaps at least five gaps that 1Malaysia could focus upon.

One, there is the territorial gap which separates the communities and cultures of Sabah and Sarawak from the people of peninsular Malaysia. Integrating their cultures into the mainstream is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for national unity. Sabahans and Sarawakians have to be accommodated in mainstream politics and administration at a faster pace.

Two, there is an ethnic gap between significant sections of the Malay and non-Malay communities on the Peninsula which, as we have seen, expresses itself in conflicting perceptions of the nation’s identity, the rights of the different communities, how they are rewarded, and so on.

A needs based approach – rather than the present emphasis upon ethnicity – in areas related to socio-economic justice may help to narrow this ethnic gap.

Three, there is a growing religious gap that has increased the social distance between segments of the Muslim and non-Muslim communities especially on the peninsula.

The issues that have caused this polarisation will have to be tackled effectively within the framework of a more progressive understanding of religion in the contemporary world.

Four, there is an income and wealth gap which has heightened the differences between those who ‘have-a-lot’ and those who ‘have-a-little’ in our society.

Apart from the inherent injustice of widening disparities in any society, the alienation and relative deprivation of the latter has contributed in no small measure to increased crime and other social malaise.

Five, there is a generational gap of sorts that appears to distinguish those above fifty from those in their twenties and thirties when it comes to crucial issues such as the need for compromise and consensus among the different communities and the importance of stability and change in Malaysian politics.

These attitudinal differences may lead to the erosion of core elements in current inter-ethnic arrangements with all their dire consequences for the nation.

Though the Federal Government will have a major role to play in reducing these gaps, all sectors and strata of Malaysian society will also have to commit themselves wholeheartedly to this monumental challenge of transforming the idea of 1Malaysia into reality. Are we ready for this challenge?

by Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the Professor of Global Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia and president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

MIC, the largest Indian-based political party in the country, will meet and hold discussions with other Indian-based parties in the country.

However, the move was not to merge with them but to work with the party on a long-term basis in a win-win situation, said MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in a statement today.

He said the other parties could maintain their individual structure and independence, adding that the MIC held such talks with the parties in the past but there was no commitment from them at that time.

Towards this end, Samy Vellu said he would soon write to all Indian-based parties of its offer in uniting the Indian community.

He also announced that the MIC headquarters would allow former or expelled members of the party to appeal for re-admission as members, adding that they would have their appeal scrutinised to ensure they were sincere in returning to the fold.

The former works minister said MIC would not 'pinch' members from other political parties but if they were interested in joining the party, the door was open to them.

"MIC branches which are defunct or closed will also be revived and energised with new leaders, subject to the approval of the Registrar of Societies," he added.

On the thorny Maika Holdings issue, Samy Vellu assured shareholders that a permanent solution was being sought, adding that it was aware there were certain quarters working towards destroying the company and using it as a political tool.


he MIC has come to the rescue of about 240 Indians students who were unsuccessful in their application for Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship.

The MIC-owned Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) in Semeling, Kedah would offer 200 places for them to pursue their foundation courses at the university, said MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

He said of the 240 students who had appealed to the PSD, he expected many of them to secure the scholarship while the rest could pursue their studies at AIMST.

"AIMST will welcome them. They need not worry," he said at the presentation of the President's Merit Award to SPM and STPM high achievers here. The annual event was organised by the party's educational arm, Maju Institute for Education Development (MIED).

Samy Vellu was commenting on the anguish of the affected students' parents who felt that despite their children scoring top grades, they could not get the PSD scholarship.

The party president said several parents had contacted MIED, seeking clarification on their children's status after they were notified that their (children's) appeals were rejected by the PSD.

He said the MIC had submitted appeals by the 240 students to the PSD and was presently gathering information on their status.

"We have been told that many were successful in their appeals while an equal number could have had their appeals rejected," he said.

However, Samy Vellu noted that 323 Indian students secured PSD scholarships this year, of which 171 were for foreign degree programmes while the rest were to pursue studies at five local private institutions approved by the PSD, including AIMST.

COULD the rural Kelantan constituency of Manik Urai mark the return of a rejuvenated Umno and Barisan Nasional?

Opportunity seems to be knocking on BN's door at a time when Umno and fellow coalition members are fighting hard to regain the trust and support of the silent majority -- that formidable section of the population who must be taken seriously and who turned against the BN for a host of reasons in the 2008 general election.

The extremely low voter turnout in the just concluded Penanti by-election is yet another indication of Parti Keadilan Rakyat's waning support among Malaysians who are tired of their brand of politics.

Pas, on the other hand, is facing a serious crisis of identity and there is undoubtedly mounting pressure on the Islamist party. Stalled at a political crossroads between the Erdogans and the ulama, internal bickering is at its height while grassroots members and supporters are craving for a better life.

So is the tide turning against the unstable Pakatan Rakyat, just 14 months after the general election?
"I think we have an excellent opportunity to win over the people and support for Umno and BN is definitely growing again," says Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan.

Some may assume that the Manik Urai state constituency in Kelantan is a Pas strong-hold. While such assumptions could have held water a year ago, the current scenario is fast changing.

The days of a lame BN are gone. With Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the helm as prime minister and Umno president, the coalition could actually stage a dramatic comeback with a vengeance.

The unprecedented decision to stay away from the "manufactured" Penanti by-election is a clear indication of a more serious BN and Umno.

Kelantan Umno, too, is at its best footing now to ride the reversing political tide. With a respected leader in Datuk Mustapa Mohamad, Umno could actually mark its return in Manik Urai.

Pas held the seat for five terms not because they built schools, highways or new houses but simply due to the fact that their assemblyman was a people's man.

Friends and foes testify that Ismail Yaakob was a down-to- earth politician who lived in Kampung Manik Urai Lama and looked after the affairs of the undemanding village folk.

The BN did win the seat twice, once in 1978 and in 2004 and, in both elections, it was against different candidates.

While the absence of the late Ismail is definitely a blessing in disguise for BN, the question of unity among past and present state Umno leaders is a cause for concern.

"Umno has a golden chance in Manik Urai if we are united. If experienced leaders like Ku Li (Tengku Razaleigh Ham-zah), Tan Sri Annuar Musa and others join hands with Mustapa, Manik Urai could mark the turning of the tide for Umno.

"We must put everything else aside and stand united as one Umno," Maslan said.

"MU stands for Manik Urai here and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is a longtime MU (Manchester United football team) fan," Maslan said in jest.

The Election Commission has set July 6 for nomination and July 14 for polling for the Manik Urai state constituency.

The MIC Youth lodged a police report against Malaysian Pribumi Perkasa Organisation president Datuk Ibrahim Ali Thursday over his statement in Utusan Malaysia which it claimed defamed party president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu.

The report was made by MIC Youth Social and Welfare Bureau chief S. Subramaaniam at the Sentul district police headquarters here.

Subramaniam said the report was to enable the police to investigate Ibrahim for making an irresponsible statement and also Utusan Malaysia which he claimed constantly published statements with religious and racial slant which could jeopardise the peace in the country and fan racial sentiments, if left unchecked.

He said the statement was untrue and the MIC Youth wanted Ibrahim to apologise to Samy Vellu.

Utusan Melaysia today reported that Samy Vellu was trying to be a champion of the race by describing the historical facts published in the newspaper recently as seditious.

I deplore the racial slur made by the writer of a local Malay daily where he had indirectly referred to the Chinese and the Indians of Malaysia as “kaum pendatang” (immigrants). It is most disgusting, despicable and shocking. I suspect the writer is not part of the newspaper, but has been using it (the newspaper) to promote his own agenda.

The writer must and should be charged in Court under the Sedition Act. His comments are most unbecoming, especially with our Prime Minister promoting the ‘One Malaysia’ concept. The MIC wants the Government to take immediate action against the writer for creating ill-feelings among the Malaysian community, especially the Chinese and Indians. Even our Deputy Prime Minister has said that racially slanted statements were unacceptable and it is against the ‘One Malaysia’ concept.

The Malaysian Indian community especially, will not accept such remarks and we demand that the writer withdraw his comments immediately and publicly apologise to all Malaysians. He has hurt our feelings and tarnished the good name of the Government. We cannot allow this sort of action to continue.

This despicable act on the part of the writer proves the urgency for the Malaysian Indian community to unite to speak with one voice. Let us set aside our differences and put our minds together. Let us mobilize our strength and move ahead. We must join forces with other peace loving Malaysians from different races and make the ‘One Malaysia’ concept a reality. I believe that the Prime Minister is sincere and genuine in his attempt to unite all Malaysians. But, the comments by this writer had dented that noble effort. The MIC is all for the ‘One Malaysia’ concept.

The time has come for us to stand up and redeem our pride. Let us start now, or forever we will suffer.

MIC President