DPM: EDUCATION CREATES A PATH OUT OF POVERTY
It is time to set aside differences between races, says Zahid
ZAFIRA ANWAR KUALA LUMPUR firstname.lastname@example.org
MALAYSIANS are advised to set aside their differences and stand united to achieve greater vertical social mobility through education.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said education was a major factor to elevate one’s social status and create a path out of poverty.
“When it comes to providing educational facilities and opportunities for Malaysians, I feel the time has come to set aside the differences between ethnic groups.
“Forget about (being) Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan or any other race. Education is the government’s focus on vertical social mobility.
“Developed nations do not sideline a particular group among its people in education. And our government, through past leaders, had transformed what was once a pyramid social structure into a diamond-shaped structure.
“The old income bracket was like a pyramid. Within a society, there were very few rich people and too many poor people. That was the old social system.”
Zahid said this at the launch of Sri Murugan Centre’s 35th anniversary celebration at SMK Sri Vivekananda here yesterday.
He said the diamond-shaped social structure meant that the country’s middle class was larger than the rich elite or the hardcore poor.
Addressing the crowd on the government’s initiative to combat poverty through education, Zahid, who also chairs a cabinet committee on urban poverty, said he was “colour blind” when it came to tackling urban poverty.
“Poverty does not just affect Malays. It affects other races as well. If poverty affects a Malay or a Chinese, it is still poverty. It is something that has to be addressed.”
“We (the government) don’t just come up with resolutions without follow-ups.
“I am a man of action and will be loyal in executing my duties to the prime minister (to combat poverty) as long as he needs me.”
Sri Murugan Centre, which conducts classes for underprivileged Indian students, had helped more than 250,000 families with its programmes and produced more than 25,000 graduates.
Present were the centre’s director, Tan Sri Dr M. Thambirajah, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri S.K. Devamany and Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan.
Zahid, in his speech, promised to raise Thambirajah’s proposals to the cabinet in its next meeting.
He announced a RM3 million government allocation for the centre.
Thambirajah, who was also Zahid’s lecturer at Universiti Malaya in 1982, had asked the government to provide scholarships for students who obtained at least 4As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.
Thambirajah also asked the government to offer university courses relevant to the students’ academic preference, as well as to safeguard the interests of the Malaysian Indian community.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk
Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi talking to students at the launch of Sri Murugan Centre’s 35th anniversary celebration at SMK Sri Vivekananda in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Zahid is flanked by Sri Murugan Centre director Tan Sri Dr M. Thambirajah (left) and co-director A. Prakash Rao.