Digging deeper into Hindraf's blueprint

There has been much exchange in the last few days in the media about Hindraf's Five-Year Blueprint to bring the Indian poor and marginalised into the mainstream of national development.

However, the one key factor in all this is the fact that most people are vague about this document.

The latest was Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's gaffe about implementing the blueprint within 100 days and the subsequent correction by PKR's R Sivarasa that what Anwar meant applied only to stateless Malaysian Indians.

To help more people understand the content of the blueprint, I present here its main points.

This Hindraf blueprint covers proposals for effective government intervention in six major problem areas of Indians Malaysians and outlines approaches to the realisation of these proposals.

The major problem areas are:
  1. Estate workers who have been displaced around the country, numbering about 800,000;
  2. Stateless Indian Malaysians, numbering about 350,000;
  3. The denial of adequate and equal educational opportunities;
  4. Unequal employment and business opportunities;
  5. The impunity of the police; and
  6. The standards of human rights practices.
Displaced estate workers (DEW)

The displacement of Indian estate workers has been going on for several decades.

According to the Population and Housing Census Reports from 1970 to 2000 issued by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, the urban Indian population in 1970 was 323,435 while in 2000, it had escalated to 1,338,510.

bukit jalil estate workers housing plight 300507 houseThe workers displaced from the plantations have been force-fitted into the urban community. They now constitute a significant section of the new urban poor and underclass and have become individually indistinguishable in the overall population segment of the Indian poor, although they are the largest part of that segment.

The displaced estate workers (DEW) programme that we propose therefore becomes one of the key development programmes for the poorer sections of the Indian community.

Contract farming programme

Under this proposal, we seek the allocation of up to 10 acres of land for every participating displaced estate worker household to carry out a variety of agricultural activities.

We believe at least 20,000 DEW households can be selected to participate in this programme over five years, which means 200,000 acres of land will be required for this programme, which will be similar to the Felda programme.

DEW housing programme

This proposal is for an affordable housing programme to adequately resettle the displaced estate workers and to rebuild communities that have been destroyed by the massive displacements that have taken place.

Under this programme, we want 100,000 houses to be built for 100,000 households over the next five years and the programme in its design must avoid the creation of new urban slums.

Sociocultural needs such as places of worship, burial grounds, community halls and playgrounds must be provided as part of the infrastructure in each such project, in order to rebuild the social system that is being lost.

Retraining and reskilling the DEW youth

This is a massive new effort and is really a programme to rebuild the Indian youth to draw them into higher value-adding vocations, to draw them away from crime and to give them the wherewithal to get going on more productive life opportunities.

yss giatmara skills training 190105 trainedFor this, training opportunities in the various skills required for the expanding Malaysian economy must be provided through placements at the 176 Giat Mara centres and the 78 community colleges around the country, with the financial support required provided as well.

A specific programme has to be designed to make this an attractive and practical programme so the objectives of rebuilding the DEW youth are attained.

After retraining, these youths must be provided jobs in government service or in government-linked companies. This will be the fastest way of ensuring that this programme of rebuilding the Indian youth will be successful.

Also, an agency must be set up to provide support to the newly retrained and budding Indian entrepreneurs in this programme, along the lines of the Tekun programme, or the the Tekun programme itself can be extended to them.

Places of worship and burial grounds

Thus far the government has refrained from getting involved in this very serious matter.

NONETemples are a significant part of Hindu life. In the estates, the managements recognised the need for and role of these temples, which have been destroyed or are facing destruction after the estates were dismantled or cleared for the various other developments.

In order to resolve this permanently, all Hindu places of worship around the country must be identified and the government has to alienate adequate land for each such structure and gazette these as reserve land for Hindu temples.

Where temples have to be relocated, the government should provide appropriate alternative land and adequate funds for rebuilding the temples and similarly, gazette them as Hindu temple reserve land.

Where the existing temple structures are older than 100 years, they are to be identified as heritage sites or heritage buildings and preserved under the National Heritage Act 2005.

The various burial grounds on former estate land also need to be identified and the land on which they sit should be alienated to the DEW and should be gazetted as Hindu burial grounds.

Alternatively, the state should replace the burial grounds taken away with land in acceptable locations and for the former burial grounds to be re-sited, with adequate compensation paid to the kin to relocate the graves.

350,000 stateless Indians

We want the 350,000 Indian Malaysians with red identity cards (ICs) to be issued with citizenship and blue MyKad immediately, unless there is a real and provable case that the individual may be from another country.

NONEAll those without blue MyKad and birth certificates should have their MyKad and birth certificates issued, with the simplified requirement of just two other fellow Malaysians making a statutory declaration of their knowledge of the birth and parentage of the individuals concerned.

Birth registration procedures must be simplified to prevent a repeat of this problem.

Denial of adequate educational opportunities

All Tamil primary schools must be made part of national education, provided with pre-school facilities and funded directly by the Education Ministry.

bukit jalil estate tamil school protest 231107 childrenThese Tamil primary schools should be provided with land, buildings, amenities and facilities, located and relocated according to concentrations of the catchment population and have trained and graduate teachers on par with the national schools.

These schools must also be single session schools and have programmes for correcting and improving the educational performance of the children, as well as their social activities.

All qualified Indian children must be unconditionally admitted into the Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) secondary schools and other residential secondary schools on the basis of their merit.

Failing this, at least one residential secondary school must be established in Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Malacca and Johor, similar to the MRSM and residential schools, to cater to qualified Indian children.

Tertiary education for the qualified

The proposals for this cover admission to pre-university programmes, skills training institutes, community colleges, polytechnics and public universities, as well as loans and bursaries.

We want matriculation and pre-university programmes, skills training institutes, community colleges and polytechnics opened for merit-based admissions or for an equitable quota to be established for admissions.

Public Service Commission scholarships must be awarded transparently; a DEW Scholarship Fund set up to award scholarships to eligible Indian students to study abroad and for PTPTN loans to be made available for all study courses in local and overseas universities.

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