Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on
Wednesday, 26th November 2008:
Selangor State Government's aid to
Tamil schools is a victory for the people
I applaud the decision by the Selangor
state government, headed by Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim,
to disburse RM 4 million ringgit in aid of Tamil schools and RM 6
million to Chinese schools. This is a historic decision and in line with
the electoral pledge by Pakatan Rakyat to provide financial assistance
irrespective of race and religion.
The aid disbursement is the first in the state's history and initiated
by the Pakatan Rakyat government in eight months since taking over
office. This is a feat which was not done by the previous state
government in the last 50 over years.
Today holds another significance as it is the first anniversary of the
Hindraf rally, which drew thousands of Indians to the streets to demand
for their socio- economic, cultural and political rights.
The street protest took the authorities by surprise as the minority
community was largely dismissed as apolitical, fragmented and
conveniently alienated from the development of the nation.
The demonstration, organised by Hindraf, highlighted the discrimination
faced by the Indians and allowed them the public space to vent their
dissatisfaction with the ruling government and its coalition partners.
I consider this initiative by the Pakatan-led state government a victory
for Hindraf, the group's leaders, especially those who are imprisoned
under the ISA and peoples' power or Makkal Shakti.
The aid is part of the government's communitarian economy project, which
aims to translate economic growth into programmes to protect and promote
the welfare of the people.
I however strongly denounce the act of the fear mongers who have
ill-advised school principals against accepting the funds. The state
education department should know better than to issue verbal
instructions to principals asking them not to attend the function at the
Petaling Jaya Civic Center.
Currently there are only 11 Tamil schools registered with the state
government for financial aid, to be used to improve facilities and
I encourage more schools to come
forward for the future of the school children.
The government and state education department must not try to force a
political issue out of the initiative by the Selangor state government .
Instead they could try to genuinely reach out to help the Tamil and
Chinese schools which are in dire need of funding.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang