Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Putrajaya to study Indian Muslims’ call to be recognised as Bumiputera

KUALA LUMPUR — In what may be a move to woo Indian Muslim voters ahead of the general election, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government will study a request from the community to be recognised as Bumiputera.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the matter would require further “research” before implementation. Photo: AFP

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the matter would require further “research” before implementation. Photo: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR — In what may be a move to woo Indian Muslim voters ahead of the general election, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government will study a request from the community to be recognised as Bumiputera.

“I heard the demand made by the Federation of Malaysian Indian Muslim Associations (Permim) president Dhajudeen Shahul Hameed, and I accept that Indian Muslims are like Bumiputeras,” said Mr Najib at an event with Malaysian Indian Muslim non-governmental organisations on Tuesday (July 18) night.

He said, however, that the matter would require further “research” before implementation.

At the event, Mr Dhajudeen asked the government to gazette Indian Muslims as Bumiputera, set up a Indian Muslim landmark in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, and appoint a special officer in the Prime Minister’s Department to manage the affairs of about one million Indian Muslims in the country.

Mr Najib lauded the community’s support for his leadership.

“I can conclude, that the Indian Muslim community in our country are strong supporters of, and loyal to BN (Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition),” he said.

“There is someone on the other side, a certain person who is also Indian Muslim, but I believe the Indian Muslim community is more supportive of me and hope this relationship will continue forever,” he added, in an indirect reference to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. The former leader — whose lineage includes ancestors from Kerala, India, on the paternal side — is now Chairman of the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Mr Rashaad Ali, a research analyst at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies’ Malaysia Programme told TODAY: “(It is) a reasonable move from Najib to woo Indian Muslims, many of whom are fence sitters, especially in a time where MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) is in the political wilderness.”

He noted that the Indian Muslim community has long sought to be integrated into Malay Muslim society. “The community has adapted itself to be more reflective of Malay Muslim norms. A good example of this is in manner of dress during Hari Raya, where Indian Muslims are more likely to wear baju melayu,” said Mr Rashaad.

Dr Norshahril Saat, a fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute added: “This could be a political ammunition on the part of Najib to compare his administration with his predecessors, that he is more inclusive to consider Indian Muslims as Malaysia’s natives.”

Under the country’s Bumiputera policy, extensive privileges — such as in housing, education and even home ownership — are given to Malays and the East Malaysian natives, over Chinese and Indians.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the contribution of the Indian Muslim community to the country, especially in terms of serving restaurant food, where he understood there were about 10,000 Indian Muslim and Pakistani restaurants nationwide.

He said although the new generation of Indian Muslims chose professions such as accounting, law, and engineering over more “traditional” fields such as money changers and newspaper sellers, the community’s support and commitment to the government remained unchanged.

“I want to bring Malaysia in line with the top 20 countries in the world in the future, so we must be ready to go past the 14th general election (expected to be held later this year),” he said.

“We can do it, and we can bring change and transformation to the country. If you want the government to transform the country — a government which is inclusive, assisting all large and small communities, including Indian Muslims — (the country) will (have to be) continued to be built by the BN government.” AGENCIES

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.