SHAH ALAM: The Unity Government has never neglected the welfare of the Indian community but rather various programmes had been initiated to assist in the development of the community at large said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said every programme that has been carried out or being carried out by the government is universal in nature and tailored with the interest of the entire Indian community in the country as per their needs and aspirations, in line with the concept of the Malaysia MADANI government.

Citing the success of having eradicated hardcore poverty in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Penang, Anwar who is also the Finance Minister said efforts to eradicate poverty was done regardless of race, and such an initiative also included the Indian community.

“...I don’t care whether they are ‘tauke’ who are Malays, Chinese or Indians. What I care is the majority who are not so priviledged.

“That’s why I say our first priority is to eradicate hardcore poverty. Though in terms of numbers, Malays are the majority, but in terms of those who benefitted under the initiative in Kuala Lumpur and Negeri Sembilan was the Indian community.

“I don’t see the issue of poverty from the racial point of view, if they fall under the hardcore poor category, they will be assisted,“ he said in his opening speech of the Fifth International Convention and Celebration of Indian statesman Dr Ambedkar’s 133rd birthday and Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration at the Ideal Convention Centre, here today.

With regard to education for the Indian community, Anwar said various initiatives have been carried out, including setting up four new Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) schools in Selangor and Perak plus two more in Negeri Sembilan, which started operations in March.

“Therefore, claims that we did not do anything for the Indian community is not true...there was also an additional RM30 million allocated for the development of SJK (T) and RM5 million for the development of education and Tamil literature which I had announced in Universiti Malaya.

“For Asian Institute of Medical, Science and Technology University (AIMST) I have approved RM25 million, on condition that (AIMST) submit a transparent financial account...we in the cabinet have also agreed to offer Indian students an easy path to enroll in TVET institutions,“ said the Prime Minister.

He added that in efforts to uplift the community in the job market, the government held discussions with various private entities to provide training as well as increase the number of Indians employed in government linked companies.

The Prime Minister also said the government has expanded Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) functions to the Indians of which the microcredit organisation was initially intended for the Malays through the announcement of RM50 million to empower Indian women entrepreneurs through the Prosperity Empowerment and A New Normal for Indian Women (PENN) programme yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also said that the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) which has since been placed under the Prime Minister’s Department again, is not the only avenue for Indian communities to uplift themselves.

Anwar therefore urged the community to not look into everything through the prism of race and pledged that all unity government representatives will work hard to address issues raised by the Indian community.

“Let me remind you, is this adequate? No. Is this the final act? No. But this is the process, do understand and appreciate the problem that we have to face in dealing with some extreme voices among the Malays that formed the majority...we have to deal with all this issues at the same time.

“Everywhere I go when I visit the Malay communities I tell them we are here to show (other communities) a good example...I want to prove a point that if we want to lead this country we need to be just to all of our citizens,“ he said.

Meanwhile, the two-day convention which started today, was attended by about 1,500 participants, including 250 foreign delegates from India, United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Brunei, United Kingdom and Indonesia.