GEORGE TOWN: The Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) wants the federal government to set aside RM53 billion in next year's budget for the socio-economic development of the Indian working class community.
Heeding to the public call by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to share ideas with him for Budget 2011, HRP pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar has written in requesting the country's chief executive to allocate the fund.
Although the demand would raise eyebrows in the Putrajaya, Uthayakumar claimed the multi-billion ringgit budget request for the Indian poor was actually a bargain deal.
“The RM53 billion proposal is merely to undo all the injustices done to Malaysian Indians for past 53 years,” he told FMT.
He said HRP had only proposed 'a mere billion ringgit retribution for a year' of injustices and racial discrimination carried out by the Umno government to marginalise, sideline and isolate Indians from the country's mainstream political and socio-economic development.
He said due to Umno's half-century racist programme, the Indian working class were badly hit in both public and private sectors.
He pointed out that majority of Malaysian Indians were poor and comparatively, in real terms, were the poorest community in Malaysia.
He claimed Indians were even poorer than the poor Orang Asli, Malay, Kadazan and Iban, who have their traditional villages and ancestral lands as their “social safety net”.
He pointed out that even the Chinese poor have their Chinese new villages as their social safety net.
“The Indians don't have this . . . even if they were to have it, it would be destroyed,” he said.
He recalled that only last year Penang Indians lost their last traditional village on the island - Kampung Buah Pala, courtesy of the Pakatan Rakyat government.
“Due to the racist policy, Malaysian-born Indians have been systematically excluded and segregated from the national mainstream development,” said Uthayakumar, who is also the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) legal advisor. 20-point demand
HRP had also enlisted a 20-point demand for the federal government to fulfil in a year's time for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community.
1. Grant each of the 450,000 hardcore Indian poor in the country the 10-acre land ownership that had been distributed to some 442,000 poor Malays under the Felda, Felcra and Risda schemes.
2. Grant land titles to all Hindu temples, burial grounds and crematoriums, Tamil schools and Indian settlements to execute permanent solution to this long running problem.
3. All Tamil schools must be converted to fully financially aided government schools by December 2011 on par with national schools.
4. The 12,650 places in the 39 MRSMs, fully residential schools and 20 elite public colleges such as MCKK, Tengku Kursiah, Cyberjaya College to be opened to all deserving poor Indian students. And, these students shall never be coerced into involuntary and forced conversion to Islam under any circumstances.
5. Grant all poor Indian students, who had scored 5A1s and above, JPA, Mara, Petronas, Yayasan Negeri, GLC Yayasan, TNB, TM scholarships.
6. Grant to all other poor Indian students, PTPTN loans for them to pursue their ambitions even in fields of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, bio-medicine at local private and overseas universities and institutions of higher learning.
7. No poor Indian student to be denied or deprived of higher education, and the sky should be their limit as is the case for any Malay Muslim student.
8. A minimum monthly wage for all Malaysians across all sectors be capped at RM1,300.00 per month.
9. Socso be made the poor man’s insurance scheme and be given round-the-clock insurance coverage, unlike the current coverage of only accidental death and disability at, to and from work. The minimum Socso pension should be capped at RM750, which is the marker for poverty in Malaysia.
10. Scrap metal, car wash, petty trading, stall and food stall, lorry, taxi, buses, tourist vans and other similar operational licences and bank loans be granted to all deserving poor Indians.
Participation in policy planning meetings
11. Licences, permits, direct projects, contracts, bank loans and business opportunities be granted to all deserving Indians craving but denied upward mobility opportunities.
12. Indians shall not be segregated from serving in the Malay-Muslim controlled civil service and GLC-owned banks and corporations.
13. Racial discrimination shall not be practised in career growth, salary increment or top civil service jobs such as secretary-generals, director-generals, managers and officers.
14. Legislation shall be passed and enforced strictly to ensure Indians are not discriminated in the Malaysia Chinese-controlled private sector.
15. A specific Act shall be passed to protect Malaysian Indians, to secure and safeguard the interests of the poor, defenceless and politically powerless ethnic Indian community.
16. The 209 Giat Mara colleges, vocational and technical schools and colleges, and all government funded and aided skills training institutions should be fully open and available to every poor Indian.
17. Full legal aid for all criminal cases beginning from remand proceedings onwards for all Malaysians earning RM5,000.00 and below.
18. Affordable three bedrooms with a minimum of 1,000 sq-ft state funded homes at nominal rentals of RM50 per month or purchase price of RM25,000 made available to all poor Indians. Government loans must be ever available for those blacklisted, those above 55 years of age or those rejected of bank loans. This is to avoid cases such as 21 Indians, including a three-month-old baby, living in a low cost apartment, as reported in the media last month.
19. The estimated stateless 150,000 Indian children and their 300,000 Indian parents, who have been denied birth certificates and identity cards, are issued those documents by end of December 2011.
20. All Indian-based welfare homes for orphans, senior citizens, single mothers and disable persons are granted full annual financial funds and facilities.
Uthayakumar also offered Hindraf and HRP participation in the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Implementation and Co-ordination Unit (ICU) and the Central Coordinating Unit (CCU) to help the government implement all the demands.
“This would effect permanent solutions to pressing and critical daily problems faced by Indian poor,” he said
The rally's estimated to be 100 000 people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning.At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released. One day before the rally, police arrested three HINDRAF lawyers, P. Uthayakumar, P. Waytha Moorthy and V. Ganabatirau for sedition charges. Uthayakumar and Ganabatirau posted bail of 800 Malaysian ringgits each, but Waytha Moorthy refused bail as a sign of protest.