THINALAN T RAJAGOPALU
NATIONAL MIC INFORMATION CHIEF
24TH DECEMBER 2023
It is truly a disappointing decision to transfer MITRA back to the Ministry of Unity, as all the efforts made prior to its placement under the Prime Minister’s Department have dissipated. It is important for MITRA to remain under the purview of the Prime Minister in order to continuously serve the Indian community without any particular preference or political pressure.
The distribution of funds and programs will have to reach the Indians in need, and placing it within the purview of the PMO will allow it to cut through the red tape so that it can reach the needy as soon as it is required. It is an absolute disappointment to know that the Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) and stakeholders of the Indian community were not consulted if MITRA should be removed from the PMO and placed back under the National Unity Ministry.
MITRA was first established in 2014 as SEDIC (Socio-economic Development of the Indian Community) under the PMO until it was rebranded as MITRA and transferred to the Ministry of Unity in 2018. It remained under the ministry throughout Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s premiership until it was again placed back under the PMO in 2022 under Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s tenure as Prime Minister. It should also be noted that the Indian Consultative Council, which was set up by the MIC, comprising of various stakeholders and NGOs. The council then produced a report, which was submitted to the Prime Minister. Datuk Seri M.Saravanan, the then Minister of Human Resources brought forward the underlying issues of the Indian community directly to the cabinet which needed the direct intervention of the Prime Minister, and such issues were given immediate attention. So, MIC had a structured system of resolving issues of the community and bringing forward aspirations of the Indian community upon feedback from the ground and stakeholders. MIC was the catalyst in making sure that MITRA was placed back under the PMO upon listening to various stakeholders of the community.
It is understood largely that MITRA funds were not directly channelled to the affected groups and individuals. This indirect nature of disbursement only benefited the NGOs. This is the reason why the funds meant for the community have been abused to the advantage of the directors of the organizations, and such possibilities will shrink if it is allowed to remain under the PMO.
The fact that no one was consulted except the leaders in Pakatan Harapan and no efforts to look into the need for the transfer is saddening. If TERAJU is able to remain under PMO and having been successful, why cant we wish the same for MITRA? Despite unreasonable allegations of misuse that were always thrown to MIC, we atleast took an effort to establish the Indian Consultative Council and engaged every Indian stakeholder to look into the future of the community.
MIC is not raising this issue just to undermine the Minister or Deputy Minister of Unity’s capability but we have seen how such a situation turned into a disaster before. How can Indians have faith in the system and their leaders if the same mistake keeps repeating? This move will not take the “all of the community” approach and will be clearly seen as an approach to safeguard a particular group for personal agenda.