Reviewing the M'sian Indian Blueprint and Sedic, four months later

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COMMENT | The Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) was launched by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on April 23, 2017.

This is the first ever federal government-initiated blueprint document. All previous efforts were either political party, academic or civil society aspirational documents lobbying the government to address needs and concerns.

Since its launch, there have been praises and critical analyses of the MIB. Some were very supportive and others very critical of the document and sceptical about its implementation.

I was invited to become a member of the Community Liaison Committee (CLC), a subcommittee of the Cabinet Committee on Indian Participation in Government programs & projects (CCIC) Exco chaired by the Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam. 

I was unable to participate at the first meeting held on July 4, 2017, but did attend the meeting on Sept 12, 2017.

I was impressed with the positive developments since the launch, and recognised both their immediate achievements as well as their constraints.

Five key achievements

First, what is key is that a formal Prime Minister Department-level unit has been established with a director-general at a Juca B grade and deputy director-general, an Administrative and Diplomatic Service (PTD) officer with six departmental heads, all full-time staff who are mostly civil servants on transfer from other agencies.

This reflects not a temporary measure but permanence, as well as professional and not political appointees.

Second, Sedic's new office will be in a renovated Block D5, which used to house the old Secretariat for Empowerment of Indian Entrepreneurs (Seed) office, bringing all the six units and coordination under one roof.

Third, the establishment of the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) chaired by Subramaniam and which comprises 32 persons is also significant, because it contains representatives from Indian NGOs – political, religious, professional, academic and business-related. This engagement and social dialogue process is very important.

The CLC has already met on two occasions since its launch, on July 4 and Sept 12, 2017. This also reflects some level of commitment and engagement with community leaders for feedback, collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Unfortunately, no women have been appointed among the 32. Sedic indicated that this will reviewed and ratified soon.

Some gender sensitising is necessary and a commitment to gender balance is essential, as Indian women in the bottom 40 percent household income group (B40) are the most vulnerable in our community.

Four, Sedic has identified seven initiatives as priorities for 2017.

  1. Launching an RM500 million Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) fund for passive income generation for targeted sections within the B40;
  2. Addressing B40 welfare registration/deregistration challenges and ensuring welfare receivables;
  3. Targeting 26 priority Tamil vernacular primary school building projects;
  4. Addressing MyDaftar documentation applications;
  5. Piloting daycare centres in suitable locations nationwide;
  6. Piloting temple transformation centres nationwide; and
  7. Establishing eleven Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) centres at community touchpoint centres nationwide.

Fifth, Sedic has also identified four other key areas:

  1. Monitoring the intake of Indians into the civil service to reach seven percent, by holding discussions with eight specific agencies and relevant government-linked companies;
  2. Monitoring and appealing on admissions to public universities to ensure the intake of Indian students reaches seven percent yearly;
  3. Explore the establishment of a co-operative bank for wealth creation and savings mobilisation; and
  4. Networking with former displaced plantation Indians residing in high-rise low-cost flats to improve socioeconomic conditions; a successful resolution to issues faced by residents of the Taman Permata low-cost flats in Dengkil; and piloting social intervention in Desa Mentari, Petaling Jaya...

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