Malaysian PM lauded for taking more Indians in cabinet

Singapore, May 16 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come in for appreciation from the Indian community in that country for including more members from the ethnic Indian community in his new cabinet, a media report said.

The new cabinet comprises two ministers and four deputy ministers of ethnic Indian origin.

While the Malaysian Indian Congress’s president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel was appointed minister for natural resources and environment, its vice president Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam was made the minister for health. Both were administered the oath of office Thursday.

Of the four deputy ministers, two are from the MIC. They are Datuk M. Saravan in the youth and sports ministry and P. Kamalanathan in the education and higher education ministry.

The third is Datuk Loga Bala Mohan, chief of the Penang People’s Progressive Party, who has been appointed in the federal territories and urban wellbeing ministry.

The fourth, P. Waytha Moorthy, is the chairman of the Hindu rights protection group, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and he has been appointed in the prime minister’s department.

“With representation in significant portfolios, the Indian community’s issues and concerns would be well-addressed,” the New Straits Times quoted educationist Dr. T. Maramuthu as saying.

Describing the cabinet line-up as a balanced one, he said the inclusive approach would help remove the negative perception of the MIC that had developed among ethnic Indians in that country.

According to Denison Jayasooria, principal research fellow in the Institute of Ethnic Studies in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, the move to not include not only political parties but also civil society groups was laudable.

MIC is one of the three major constituents of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition that barely managed to get a majority after the country’s general elections May 5.

The other two major constituents are the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

The MCA decided to stay out of government after a dismal show at the hustings.

The MIC did not do well either well either managing only four parliamentary seats, the same it had prior to the polls, and five state seats, down from seven it held earlier.

Ethnic Indians comprise a little over seven percent of Malaysia’s total population of nearly 30 million.

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