Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress joins ruling party

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has formally admitted the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) as an associate member of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), saying it will make the party “more inclusive”.

UMNO would be a stronger party by being more inclusive, Najib said at a dinner attended by 7,000 members of the Indian Muslim NGOs Monday. He heads the party of majority Malays.

There were benefits in joining forces with other groups, New Straits Times quoted Najib as saying.

“The party will become stronger and more stable. We will be able to help and contribute to one another that will benefit both sides,” he said.

Indian Muslims, estimated to be about 1.1 million, mostly from south India, settled here during the British era.

On Aug 27, Najib had announced that Kimma was an associate member of UMNO and would enjoy observer status at its general assemblies and division meetings.

The Indian community here is engaged in businesses like currency exchange and restaurants, among others.

However, Najib said they would need to go through the process of evolving from their traditional businesses to more progressive ones that suit the current times.

“If we are not brave to change, we might lose out to those who are able to adapt to the changing times.”

He said the government was looking for solutions to problems faced by the community, including in the money-changing business and issue of foreign workers.

A section of Malaysian Indian Muslims wants to be recognised as Malays and be accorded the privileges of “bumiputeras” (the sons of the soil).

In 2008, members of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Youth Movement (Gepima) said they wanted to be known as Malays and not Indians since the country’s constitution states that an Indian is a Malay “if he professes the Muslim religion, habitually speaks Malay and conforms to Malay custom”.

A senior minister in Najib’s government, however, expressed a different view in June this year.

“Requests by Indian Muslims to be recognised as ‘Bumiputras’ is a good thing but at the same time, it goes against our efforts to ensure the community retains its identity,” said Nazri Aziz, a minister in the prime minister’s department.

“People regard them as Malays and I feel they will eventually become Malays over the years,” the minister noted, adding that they would be assimilated.

Filed under: Politics

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