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Media statement by M.Kula Segaran in Ipoh on Saturday, 12th March 2011:

Dire Indian poverty demands urgent solution

With the fragmentation of estates in the late 1960s and coupled with the decline in rubber commodity prices from the 1970s, estate labourers of Indian origin began to migrate to the towns and urban areas of Peninsular Malaysia in search of their livelihood.

Thus began a pattern of their lives that saw them exchange the discreet poverty of their estate existence for the grinding poverty of their urban lives.

Their lack of education and the higher cost of living in urban areas meant that these rural-to-urban migrants were hard put to eke out a living. They began to languish in hopelessness, their poverty turning endemic because their children's low educational attainment, in part due to gloomy home conditions, meant their further immersion in the poverty trap.

Within two decades of this migratory drift from estate sufficiency to urban depression, Indian Malaysians began to top the indices of social pathology. The unemployment rate, school dropout rate, crime rate, and high incidence of single parents, all testified to social malaise among Indian Malaysians.

Now MIC new President Planivel has suggested the urban poor Indians who are earning a meager income to move back to the estates to earn a better and higher income as a temporary solution.

Palanvel is out of touch of the real problem of the Indians. A temporary solution cannot work. What is needed is a long term solution to the hard core problem of the Indian poor.

It is suggested that a Parliamentary select committee consisting of the government, opposition and eminent personalities to be established to ascertain the real cause of the hard core poverty among the Indians.

The select Committee can then make due recommendations for a permanent and long term solution for those Indians who are suffering in the urban poor net. Thus a safety net of a sort is needed like a "tongkat" for the community to progress from the slumber.

The Committee can and should visit and ascertain the real issues affecting the Indians in all areas where the Indians are residing.

I will raise this issue next week during my turn to speak during the Royal address in Parliament.

Will MIC, Gerakan, MCA and PPP support me? Or as usual they will pretent not to hear me for fear of UMNO their big brother?

The Parliamentary select committee could also encompass to look into:

  1. poverty affecting Malaysians as a whole;

  2. Gangstersim and High criminal activities among the poor;

  3. Why many thousands do not possess birth certificates and identity cards;

  4. Why many urban Indians are said to earn only RM500 per month;

  5. The present per capita income is RM26, 000 per head per month which makes out to over RM2000 a month. Why in reality average Malaysians are earning less then this? Can the target per capita income of RM50,000 be reached by 2020 as vision by the Government;

  6. Why in 1970 the civil service had 17% Indians now down to 4% and Chinese from 30% to presently 5%?

  7. Why academically well qualified Malaysians students are denied scholarships and financial help from the Government;

  8. Why the present workforce is relatively unskilled with 80% educated to Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or it equivalent;

  9. Why is there a growing population of single mothers;

  10. Social matters like alcoholics and drugs, unemployment, the over dependence on foreign workers and the need for a minimum wage.

There are definitely many other pressing matters which need urgent and concrete action. The select committee can delve in it if the necessity arises.

Finally urge the report to be made public and to follow up with concrete action.

* M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman & MP for Ipoh Barat



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