It is time to set aside dif­fer­ences be­tween races, says Zahid

New Straits Times - - News/Govt & Policy -


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.

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