Malaysiakini Letter

Assist forgotten Indian poor, reduce social ills

P Uthayakumar  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The 1Malay-sia prime minister announced a 13 percent pay rise for the 1.4 million civil servants who are made up of 97 percent Malay Muslims) ( NST , 9/3/12).

And the very same NST on pages 2 and 3 (Streets Central pullout) had a story titled "Extortion, gang fights major problems at flats' - focusing mostly on Indian youths reports, the largely 15,000 Indian poor at the Desa Mentari low cost flats who earn as low as RM450 a month, which is far below the poverty line of RM786.00 per month.

Even Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne ( NST 9.3.12, pg. 3) cites urban poverty as the root of social ills.

He was quoted as saying that "Unaddressed social ills that are due to urban poverty could become severe problems, in contrast to rural poverty. Some households make only RM450 a month. When they fall behind on their house payments, their families suffer, especially their children."

In 1 Malay-sia are the Indian poor only wanted as unskilled labourers, office boys, security guards, cleaners, tea ladies, drivers etc to do the 3D jobs - those that are dirty, difficult and dangerous?

"The (Indian) boys vandalised an Indian sundry shop. However, the owner did not lodge a police report and decided to close down his business," said the sundry shop owner.

"But when a different operator, of a different race, set up a nasi lemak stall at the same spot, there were no problems. From our observation, these boys only target people of their own race."

A resident revealed there are many jobless youngsters in the flats. He hoped the authorities will organise job fairs and create attractive recreational activities for them.

"The root of the problem could be the lack of job opportunities for them," he said.

On Jan 28, about 26 motorcycles and a taxi were torched in the wee hours at Desa Mentari flats. At (another Indian poor neighbourhood) at the Seri Semarak PPR flats in Setapak, 13 motorcyles were burnt recently.

And this urban poverty and the ensuing social problems among the Indian poor arise largely because of the 55th years of state sponsored inequality, inequal opportunities and unequal upward mobility opportunities in the name of affirmative action for one community.

Why not affirmative action for all the poor including the Indian poor? After all we are supposed to be 1 Malaysia. And we are also supposed to be ‘multi-racial'.

On the contrary the sky is the limit for the Malay community as far as upward mobility opportunities are concerned.

To cite a very glaring example when confiscating and forcibly closing down S Vijenidran and Yuganthiran‘s cendol stall, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall enforcement officers had told them that they should go and work as a security guards. ( Starmetro 28.9.10, pg M4).

Another glaring example is that an estimated 5,000 mostly Indian scrap metal petty traders have been denied licenses ( The Star 28/11/09, page N22) and their shops and outlets systematically demolished and destroyed.

Why not give them licenses to operate and take 5,000 potential gangsters and criminals out of the streets?

The Umno-led 1Malaysia government must be fair and create and grant self employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the 1.5 million ten acre land ownership opportunities in Felda, Felcra, Risda etc, such as in food, cendol and drink stalls.

Also at highway rest areas, local council stalls, outside LRT stations, railway, bus stations, shopping complexes and the roadsides.

There also could be work at flower and vegetable stalls. There is work as tourist guides, driving vans etc. How come we do not see Indians doing these businesses in 1Malaysia?

Also equal skills training opportunities in the local neighbourhood at Giat Mara, community colleges, vocational and technical colleges etc. And the billions of ringgit given Out by Tekun, AIM, Bank Rakyat, Bank Industri, Bank Islam business loans to go with it.

And there are almost zero recreational facilities accessible to them in and around the Indian poor working class squatter colonies and (now) the low-cost flats.

At the congested Pantai Dalam low-cost flats for instance with some 150 Indian poor families, they don't even have one Indian stall for especially the youths, to lepak.

Logic would dictate that when in particular the Indian poor has decent jobs, businesses, farm land to work on, and equal upward mobility opportunities, the last thing they would want to do is to become  gangsters, thieves, criminals, drug distributors etc.

These unskilled youths could be given skills training, business loans and business opportunities to run small hair dressing saloons, or become servicemen, plumbers, electricians, small contractors etc.

Why not these small cari makan self-employed opportunities also for the Indian poor youths? Why segregate them?

In all of this, why not? Unless there is a racist agenda behind this.

P UTHAYAKUMAR is chief of the Human Rights Party (HRP).


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