Malaysian Indian population shrinking, says Vellu

June 10th, 2008 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 10 (IANS) Malaysia’s Indian population has declined to 7.8 percent from well over eight percent and could go down to seven percent in the next five years, a senior political leader of the community has said, warning that this would mean less government funding for the group. Action must be taken to stop this process, former minister and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Samy Vellu said in a front-page report in Tamil Nesan newspaper Tuesday.

Vellu pointed out that the government made development fund allocations based on the current population of each ethnic community.

This would alter if the numbers come down.

There were 2.5-2.6 million people of Indian origin among a population of 28 million in Malaysia when estimates were last made, but Vellu said their proportion had gone down now. Of the people of Indian origin, over two million are Tamils.

The proportion of the Indians, most of whom settled during the British era, coming directly from India or via Sri Lanka, has come down since the country achieved independence in 1957.

The fall is attributed to migration of Indian origin people in large numbers and higher population increase rate among the majority Malays.

A bulk of the Indian community, over two million, are Tamil Hindus, while there are also Tamils of other faiths, Malayalees, Telugus, people from Uttar Pradesh, a small but significant business community from Gujarat and about 100,000 Sikhs.

Indians hold significant presence both as blue-collared workers in farms and factories and in white-collared professions like banking, business and media.

However, there are complaints of discrimination in education and jobs, when compared to the majority Malays who enjoy special privileges under the Constitution.

MIC has traditionally spoken for the Indian community. But it lost badly and Vellu himself lost the election in March. Compared to three MIC parliamentarians, there are more from opposition parties, including the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

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