Malaysia will step up efforts to induct more ethnic Indians into the civil service and expand their job opportunities in government-linked companies (GLCs), according to Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam.

In a statement disseminated by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Dr. Subramaniam said on Tuesday that “the target of 7.4 per cent intake of [ethnic] Indians into the civil service would be expedited.” The target reflects the demographic ratio of the Malaysian-Indian minority, at about two million.

Outlining the latest decisions of Malaysia’s Special Cabinet Committee on Indian Affairs, the Minister, also the MIC Vice-President, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak directed that urgent action be taken to redress issues concerning the people of Indian origin.

The MIC had now “requested” that at least two Malaysian Indians be appointed to the board of each GLC. The country’s 130 GLCs now had only seven ethnic Indians, he said, without specifying their exact status. More credit and business opportunities would also be extended to the community.

Noting that the Human Resources Ministry functioned as the secretariat for the Cabinet panel on issues relating to Malaysian Indians, Dr. Subramaniam said Mr. Najib “approved in principle” an extra allocation for the re-development of Tamil schools. A 65-per cent increase over the current allocation of 100 million Malaysian Ringgit was so approved. Professional benefits for temporary teachers in Tamil schools were also agreed upon. Steps would also be considered to raise the intake of ethnic Indians in public universities, the Minister said.

Southeast Asian observers saw these measures as a political statement to reassure Malaysian Indians ahead of this year’s Deepavali festival in the context of an almost year-long ban on the Hindu Rights Action Force.

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