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“Problem is Mitra – not its moving” – Ramasamy

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COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG

Problem is Mitra not its moving

Prime Minister Ismail Saberi announced the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) will be placed under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Apparently, this was the request of the MIC that It should be moved away from its presence in the Ministry of National Unity.

#TamilSchoolmychoice

I am not what sure what was the reason for this move.
Maybe Mitra was not well supervised under the national unity ministry.

Of late, Mitra has courted controversy.

The recipients of Mitra funds especially those in the non governmental organisations (NGOs) were subjected to investigation.

A few were arrested and charged for the embezzlement of Mitra funds meant for the socio-economic progress of the Indian poor. Maybe the MIC was able to convince Ismail that moving the unit to the Prime Minister’s Department was the right thing to do.

However, I don’t know how the move might benefit the Indian community. Even if the unit is placed under the new department, the MIC’s involvement in the management of the fund will be there.

Even if the MIC is excluded from interfering with Mitra, the question remains as to the actual role of the unit.

Is the unit going to engage in the same old practice of dishing out funds to the non governmental organisations like before?

Giving out funds indirectly through the NGOs is the source of the problem of Mitra.

It is this practice of indirect disbursement that allowed certain individuals and organisations to use the funds ostensibly meant for the Indian poor for their own benefit.

The shift of Mitra to the new department under the prime minister might be good move, but the problem of disbursement will remain.

There is nothing to ensure the funds will directly go to the target individuals or groups.

Indirect disbursement of funds to the Indian poor through the NGOs is the source of fundamental problem in Mitra. Moving to a different department will hardly address the core problem of indirect disbursement.

RM100 million is not a big source of funding through Mitra. It is a disgraceful pittance in comparison to the billions allocated to alleviate the socio-economic problems of the Malay community. It is for this reason alone, the MIC should be fighting for more funds for the Indian community just not to Mitra to others as well.

Unfortunately, the present MIC leadership neither has the clout or the substance to fight for the betterment of the Indian committee.

The leaders should desist from asking for bread crumbs but instead come out with a socio-economic road map for the future advancement of the community.

On this basis, funds could be solicited to reach the target individuals and groups, not through the agency of the NGOs. As I have suggested more than year ago that Mitra rather than giving out funds should be playing the role of one-stop agency in identifying projects in government developments that could benefit the Indian community.

Why not redefine the role and functions of Mitra with aim to identify other sources of funding for the Indian community. Why allow conflict and competition among different organisations to fester for the limited funds available in Mitra.

Mitra is a big failure as far as the Indian community is concerned
It serves no purpose to shift Mitra here and there when the focus should be on whether the government is fair to the Indian community all these years.

Regrettably, the MIC with its token representation is hardly in a position to honestly and bravely articulate the broad concerns of the community.

It is utter shame on the government that the Indian community that has contributed so much to the development and well-being of the country remain neglected and marginalised.

Debate about Mitra is hardly going to make significant impact on the development trajectory of the Indian community.

A more needs based approach is called for in addressing the socio-economic woes of not just Indians but other ethnic communities as well.