SEREMBAN, March 6 — MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel has asked members of the Indian community, who are unable to make a living for themselves in towns and cities, to come back and work in the plantation sector, including in estates owned by government-linked companies.
Palanivel, who is deputy plantation industries and commodities minister, said the government had agreed to a minimum wage of about RM700 a month for the sector, compared to RM300 previously.
There were also other facilities available in estates, including free transportation for students in estate areas and free housing, he said, adding that the cost of living in estates was also low.
“The ties among estate communities are also close and the environment is secure because they are guarded round-the-clock,” he told reporters after visiting the party’s community service centre at Wisma MIC here.
He explained however that the call was meant for those who were unable to get used to urban life and were mired in hardships, particularly single mothers.
He said estates owned by GLCs such as Sime Darby were facing a shortage of workers.
Rather than taking foreign workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh, it would be better that the shortage be filled by Malaysians, he said.
Palanivel added that poverty was among problems faced by the community and that the MIC was striving to find a solution to it.
On whether the Indian community now recognised the MIC after rejecting the party in the 2008 general election, Palanivel said he was confident that the community would support the party in the coming election.
On the demonstrations staged by Hindraf in the national capital last month, Palanivel said the protest was not about fighting for the Indian community.
“I want to ask you, was the demonstration held to uphold the struggle for the Indian community, to highlight problems of poverty? The demonstration was against the use of the novel ‘Interlok’.
“They are not fighting for the Indian community,” he said. — Bernama