Contributions of Indians vital: says Malaysian PM

October 26th, 2008 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 26 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi has hailed the contribution of ethnic Indians as “vital” to nation-building and said a cabinet committee has been set up to address challenges faced by the community. In a message on the eve of Diwali, the prime minister said that Malaysian Indians are an integral part of society and the government recognises the past and present contributions of the community to nation-building.

Malaysian Indians, the majority of whom are Hindus and celebrate Diwali, have always tirelessly worked with and constructively engaged the government to improve the well-being of the community, he said.

“The government is also fully committed to this end, knowing full well that any advancement made by this comminity, as with others, will surely also benefit the country as a whole,” The Star newspaper Sunday quoted him as saying.

In sharing the Diwali tradition, he said, people were once again reminded that the best thing about being a Malaysian was being a part of a unique and diverse society.

“In the spirit of Diwali, that good will always prevail. Malaysians must remain together and not allow extremist groups and individuals to cause tensions to rise. “We are mature and united enough to recognise that the vast majority of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, all aspire to achieve the same objectives for our families and for our country.”

Badawi said Malaysia remained steadfast and confident in weathering the global economic crisis by being united as a people to face it and “in ensuring that we come out of it better and stronger than before”.

Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) chief S. Samy Vellu, in his message, urged the estimated 2.6 million Indian community to unite. His Chinese colleague in the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) chief Ong Tee Keat called for greater mutual respect among the principal communities.

Like the BN, the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) formed earlier this year, also follows the broad pattern of including the three communities under its umbrella.

Festivals of all three groups, besides Christians and Buddhists of various denominations are celebrated in Malaysia.

While the Malays form the majority Muslim community with Islam as the state religion in Malaysia, ethnic Chinese are 33 percent and Indians, bulk of them Hindus, form eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is scheduled to succeed Badawi early next year, said the spirit of Diwali is a concept that all Malaysians should practise.

Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam, who represents MIC in the Badawi government said on this auspicious day, the Hindus should strengthen their ties with their family and friends and those from different faiths.

Malaysians have the tradition of hosting Open House. The prime minister hosts one on Eid and the celebrations are called Hari Raya.

The Indian community too is hosting various Open Houses on Diwali.

MIC leaders Vellu and Subramaniam will host separate Open Houses to invite people of all communities.

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