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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Iran to review woman's stoning sentence

Protesters in London demonstrate against the planned stoning and to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9th July student uprising.

(CNN) -- Iran's top human rights official said the Islamic regime is reviewing a sentence of execution by stoning for a woman convicted of adultery.

"Sentences such as stoning will be closely reviewed and probably changed," Mohammad Javad Larijani told Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency.

Larijani was referring to the well-publicized case of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani, who faces the possibility of execution after being convicted in 2006 of adultery.

Her lawyer, Mohommad Mostafaei, told CNN that Ashtiani confessed to the crime after being subjected to 99 lashes. She later recanted that confession and has denied wrongdoing, he said.

Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, he added. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency. Iran's supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007.

Ashtiani's case has drawn international attention and many human rights activists have called for the sentence to be changed.

In London, England on Saturday, protesters waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans to the beat of a drum in front of the Iranian Embassy. They condemned executions in Iran -- by hanging and stoning.

"Stop the hanging in Iran -- now, now, now. Stop the stoning in Iran -- now, now, now."

But Larijani said protests from outside Iran will not affect Ashtiani's case.

"The Western attacks have no effect on the opinion of our judges," he told the news agency.

Larijani's comments seemed to contradict Iran's first public statement on the case made Thursday by the Iranian Embassy in London, England, which suggested Ashtiani would not be stoned.

It said "this mission denies the false news aired in this respect and ... according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment.

"It is notable that this kind of punishment has rarely been implemented in Iran and various means and remedies must be probed and exhausted to finally come up with such a punishment," the embassy said.

Ashtiani's son, who appealed Wednesday to Iran's courts to spare his mother's life, said he won't accept any decision short of his mother's freedom.

Through human rights activist Mina Ahadi, Sajjad Mohammedie Ashtiani said he would be satisfied only when Iran's judiciary officially drops the charges against her.

Ahadi has told CNN that only an international campaign designed to pressure the Islamic regime in Tehran could save Sakineh Ashtiani's life.

"Legally, it's all over," said Ahadi, who heads the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty, earlier this week.

Ashtiani's son wrote in an open letter to government officials that there was neither evidence nor legal grounds for his mother's conviction and sentence. He said the family has traveled six times from their home in Tabriz to Tehran to speak with Iranian officials, but in vain.

"So I have no option but reaching out to them this way," he said earlier in the week.

Why, he asked, has an accused been twice prosecuted on the same charge when Islamic criminal law allows prosecution only once?

Sajjad Ashtiani told CNN that he visits his mother every Monday in jail, never knowing whether that meeting will be their last.

Those who oppose me will fail, vows Samy

(Malaysiakini) MIC president S Samy Vellu today did not minced his words in lambasting those who have opposed his leadership in the party.

“They have their own objectives, in which they will fail. It will kill them,” he declared.

samy vellu micIn his opening speech at the party's 64th annual general meeting today, Samy Vellu also lectured the 3,000 delegates in his trademark fatherly manner.

“I have been harsh with some of the members. But all the criticism will benefit them in the future. I will make sure that they will succeed in their undertakings,” he said.

“There are many instances where my decisions were disliked, but I believe that as a leader, I had done what was right for the people.”

There have been numerous efforts previously to dislodge Samy Vellu's three-decade stranglehold on the party as MIC supremo, with the latest in the form of the Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) movement.

GAS, which held its second mass gathering last weekend, was set up by party leaders who were expelled by Samy Vellu.

The party boss argued that MIC will be the “one and only party” that is capable to work for the betterment of Indian Malaysians, despite there being smaller groups purporting to represent the minority community.
To seek government's support
He said the party will continue to request the government to give Indians a chance to be a key stakeholder in both private and public partnership under the newly launched New Economic Model (NEM).

It is crucial for Indians to be well-represented in NEM, and be given at least 10 percent in all national activities and initiatives.

“We also believe with more Indian SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) in the economy, we will be able to spur the growth of the economy by another 1 percent to 1.5 percent,” he added.

He said that the party will seek the government's support to allocate a quota of 15 percent of all funds made available for the SMEs.

“I want Malaysian Indians to be part of the innovative wealth management and attain a share of at least five percent equity within the next five years,” he added.

"We want an accelerated growth of Indian wealth creation at the rate of five percent annualy, 15 percent employment opportunities in the key economic ector and equal opportunities for education advancement up to 10 percent in key faculties by the year 2020."
Samy Vellu also said that he was grateful to those who have supported him over past three decades, indicating that this could be his last party congress as leader.

Earlier, the party president said he plans to leave eight or nine months before his tenure ends in 2012.

Samy Vellu had also named his deputy, G Palanivel, as his successor in a “transition plan” which the latter would take over the helm some time before next September.

Media Event: An estimated 2,237 top and high achieving Indian students denied JPA scholarships, PTPTN loans, Matriculation and University seats.Handing over Petition to Malaysian King DYMM Yang Dipertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan for a Royal Commission of Enquiry.

No.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar,
59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245 

Media Event (10/7/2010)

An estimated 2,237 top and high achieving Indian students denied JPA scholarships, PTPTN loans, Matriculation and University seats.

Handing over Petition to Malaysian King DYMM Yang Dipertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan for a Royal Commission of Enquiry to be constituted further to Article 93 of the Federal Constitution on the exclusion and segregation of especially even the sixth generation poor Malaysian Indian students of JPA & other Scholarships, PTPTN study loans, Matriculation and University seats in contravention of Article 8 (equality before the law) and Article 12 (no discrimination in government funded higher education institutions) further to Article 93 of the Federal Constitution.

Date : 11th July 2010
Time : 2.30pm
Venue : Istana Negara, Jalan Istana
50500 Kuala Lumpur.
Thank you.
Yours truly,
Information Chief
012 6362287
New Scan-20100710143350-00001

Samy Vellu insists MIC only voice for Indians

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — In a last ditch attempt to unify a fragmented MIC, party president Datuk Seri
Datuk Seri Samy Vellu pleaded with his party to be united and to ignore splinter groups within the country’s small Indian community — Picture by Choo Choy May
S. Samy Vellu pleaded today with his party to be united and to ignore splinter groups or factions within the country’s small Indian community.

Samy Vellu blamed these splinter groups for splitting the votes of the Indian community which resulted in a major loss of votes for ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).

“Many of us are guilty of splitting the Indian community into various small, insignificant and fragmented groups who claim to champion their narrow-based causes.

“In one corner, we have NGOs who laud to champion for purposes of education whereas on the other corner we have Indian groups that claim to represent the voices of the underprivileged,” Samy Vellu said when opening the party’s annual congress here.

The longest-serving MIC president claimed that these groups would not be able to sustain their presence as they did not have a “clear road map” for the Indian community.

“As much of us love to deny the truth, it is a matter of fact that despite all the challenges faced, MIC persists to remain strong, relevant, vibrant and is the one and only voice of the Indian community,” he said at the MIC 64th General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.

In his presidential address, Samy Vellu said that whatever decisions he had made during the last 30 years in the party was “for the people”.

In a swipe at his harshest critics, Samy Vellu said that he was aware that his decisions did not always sit down well with some people.

“There were many instances whereby my decisions were disliked but I believe that as a leader I had done what was right for the people,” he said.

The former Works Minister’s remarks come amid strong pressures from within and outside the party to have him removed as party president.

An anti-Samy movement, (GAS), formed in the last few weeks led by MIC members who had been expelled by Samy himself have been going on a campaign to discredit the veteran politician.

But Samy defended himself today by reiterating that the decisions that he had made, though unpopular were necessary for MIC’s advancement.

“Over the last 30 years, I have devoted my life and exuberance to and for the community, party and the government. The state of the party was much to be desired 30 years ago, and it was then that I decided to embark upon a journey of change and transformation in order to bring the Indian community to achieve what others have and at the same time to take charge of their lives and future,” said Samy.

The MIC man claimed that the party’s various contributions to the country’s growth were evident, using the examples of MIC-owned AIMST University and Tafe College.

Samy told delegates that he would seek the BN government’s support to allocate a quota of 15 per cent of all funds made available for the SMEs to be channeled to Indian SMEs.

The MIC president claimed that Indian SMEs could contribute one to 1.5 per cent to the country’s economical growth.

“I take this opportunity to invite all Indian based parties to close ranks and work closely with MIC, from either within or from outside at the national, state and district level for the betterment of the community. Let’s unite as a united Indian force as this is essential to see Barisan Nasional through the upcoming General Election,” added Samy.

But despite all of Samy’s bravado, his speech did not quite receive the encouraging response expected from the 2,000 odd delegates present.

But MIC vice-president Datuk S.K. Devamany believes that majority of the party members were solidly behind Samy’s leadership.

“The delegates want a clear blueprint of what is in store for the Indian community. The issue of leadership, everyone is with Samy, the MIC wants a smooth leadership transition and we believe the president has the wisdom to do just that,” Devamany told The Malaysian Insider.

“We recognise that there has been neglect towards the Indian community. The time has now come for us to put it right, to reassure a better future for Indians in the country,” said Devamany.

Beware of Donald, warns Ibrahim

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali has issued a yellow alert on MCA vice-president Donald Lim following the latter's call for a Chinese version of Perkasa yesterday.
“Donald is a dangerous man who is promoting racial tension among NGOs,” Ibrahim told FMT via text message. “Donald's political lifespan is a mere six years as a senator. That he is seeking out a Chinese NGO to fight Perkasa is uncalled for.”

Donald had suggested that a Chinese version of Perkasa be established to counter the right-wing Malay group's racial assaults and has set his sights on the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to play this role.

He explained that it would be inappropriate for the MCA to take on such a responsibility as political parties and NGOs operate differently.

Ibrahim, who is also Pasir Mas MP, however, scorned Donald as “another desperate MCA leader” and warned that MCA can forget about enjoying the Malay votes if it continues its current leadership style.

Donald's statement has lit up a number of posts on microblog Twitter with a few well-known personalities airing their views.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP, Tony Pua, wrote, “Thinks MCA still don't get it, as Donald Lim calls for a 'Chinese' Perkasa. Its about 'Malaysian', not race.”

“It's the fashion in BN: everyone going Perkasa! PM @NajibRazak might as well announce 1Msia dead & buried,” posted Batu MP, Chua Tian Chang.

In reply to DAP Socialist Youth head, Anthony Loke's prodding, Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong wrote, “disagree w "tit4 tat" tactic, no doubts NGO is entitled to its view, but must b rea'ble (reasonable), sen'ble (sensible) & const'nal (constitutional)".

The Ayer Hitam MP was at the receiving end of Ibrahim and Perkasa's tirade recently when he questioned whether the government would consider reducing the number of Mara scholarships.

Ibrahim accused him of challenging Malay rights, while Perkasa's newsletter Suara Perkasa carried a headline demanding that Wee be arrested under the ISA in its inaugural issue.

Najib: BN won't interfere in MIC leadership tussle

S Retnanathan and G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today reiterated that neither he nor the Barisan Nasional (BN) would interfere in the MIC leadership transition issue.

However, he said the party should not indulge in caste-based politics as this would eventually lead to the downfall of the largest Indian-based political party in the country.

Saying that BN recognised the contribution of the MIC and its long-serving president S Samy Vellu for contributions to the betterment of the nation and the Malaysian Indian community, Najib said that at present, not only the BN was at a crossroads but also the MIC.

“We have come to a cross-roads in the political context. This crossroads is not only for the MIC but also for all component parties. All political parties in the BN should seriously look at their respective weaknesses and rectify them as soon as possible.

“While we recognise the achievements of the MIC over the last 64 years, we must also recognise the weaknesses and rectify them. Problems like Maika Holdings, is also being rectified. We are committed to solving the woes of the community.

“We recognise that not all Indian problems can be solved by the MIC. It would need the help of the government in resolving the problems of the community. We should not solely blame Samy Vellu for everything... we must work as a team,” he said.

Speaking to about 2,000 MIC divisional delegates at the party’s 64th annual general assembly here, the prime minister said the MIC would be able to deliver if the party made changes according to the changing times, taking into account the current needs of the 1.8 million-Malaysian Indian community.

'Be progressive'

Najib said internal politicking in the MIC would only weaken the party, adding that there was no need for the MIC to be more inclusive.

“Don’t let the leadership problem in the MIC sap the energy of the party. It must be solved in a way that strengthens the MIC. I will not interfere but please do not fight and destroy this party. Choose your leadership for a better and stronger MIC,” said Najib.

Since the 2008 general election, which saw the BN suffer a humiliating defeat losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament, Samy Vellu has been under massive pressure to step down as party chief after 30 years at the helm. The MIC supremo has announced that he would vacate the post in September 2011.

On the caste system practised in the party, Najib said that a person’s caste should not be a factor in picking leaders but it should be based on the capability of a person.

“Don’t be carried away with this caste system. I know some people refused to garland leaders just because the leader was of a lower caste. The MIC must be a progressive party... Umno is changing and MIC must also do the same,” he added.

He said the Malaysian Indians were already divided and that there was no need for the community to be further divided.

Taking a swipe at all the three major Tamil newspapers – Malaysian Nanbam, Makkal Osai and Tamil Nesan – Najib said these dailies were being used to further the political mileage of certain leaders without realising that they were destroying their own community by dividing it.

“The newspapers should help in changing the mindset of the Indian community, uniting the community but this is not happening. On the part of the government, we are doing more than ever before to assist the Indian community.

“Please strengthen the MIC to move forward. We in the BN had made mistakes in the past and they have been rectified. We will have to work together to ensure we win the 13th general election,” he said.

Samy hints of retirement, pays tribute to supporters

  S Retnanathan and G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Long-serving MIC president S Samy Vellu for the first time today gave a clear hint that he may vacate the post, which he had held for the last 30 years, paying tribute to all those who have helped him “throughout my journey”.

Speaking in front of some 2,000 MIC divisional delegates and MIC members at the opening of the party’s 64th annual general assembly here, the MIC supremo also thanked those who had stood by him and had given undivided moral support throughout his 30-year journey.

“I am grateful to the many people who have assisted me throughout my journey... leaders and ordinary citizens who have worked for me, supported me or wished me well. I am profoundly grateful for the support of so many Malaysians who somehow know that I care for them.

“I am grateful to those who have stood by me in the party and rendered undivided moral support,” he said in the presence of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who opened the general assembly.

Since the dramatic 2008 general election, the MIC chief had been under tremendous pressure to quit the post he had held since 1979. Samy Vellu initially resisted the call to step aside but later announced that he would leave active politics in September next year.

If the general assembly speech today was anything to go by, then indications are on the wall that the MIC chief could hand over the party reins sooner than September 2011.

Unlike the previous general assemblies, the MIC chief’s speech this time around was peppered with points defending himself over his actions in the last 30 years, pointing out that he had devoted his life and exuberance to the Malaysian Indian community, MIC and the government.

'We won't rest on our laurels'

Saying that 30 years ago the party was in total disarray, he explained that the era of his leadership was tough,
testing and challenging as “there were social and structural changes taking place in the community and problems in education, the economy, employment and religion” over the years.

“There were many instances when my decisions were disliked, but I believe that as a leader I had done what was right for the people. I had to do the right thing and, at the same time, get things right for the community,” he said.

Samy Vellu was also confident that the Indian community, which deserted the party and the BN at the 2008 general election, was returning with almost 50% of the lost Indian votes coming back to the Barisan Nasional fold based on the Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor by-elections.

“We will not rest on our laurels until we launch the next level of assult in order to regain the remaining members of the community before the next general election.”

On the fragmented Malaysian Indian community, the MIC chief said “many of us are guilty of splitting the Indian community into various small, insignificant groups that claim to champion their narrow causes”.

“In one corner, we have non-governmental organisations championing education; in the other corner, we have Indian groups that claim to represent the voices of the underprivileged. Then there are groups which were formed solely to gain political support but these groups will not be able to sustain their presence as they do not have a clear road map for the community.

“As much as many of us love to deny the truth, it is a matter of fact that despite all the challenges faced, MIC persists to remain strong, relevant and vibrant and is the one and only voice of the Indian community,”said the MIC chief.

He also invited all Indian-based political parties in the country to close ranks and work closely with the MIC for the betterment of the 1.8 million Indians in the country.

“No matter how distinct our opinions are, let us put aside our differences and let's harness our uniting factors such as the future of our children as well as the community’s well being. Let’s also unite to work together for a better future for all,” he said.

What about permanent residence for foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens?


It is heartening to note that the Government is making it easier for Professionals to get PR in Malaysia, I am even told that International Students excelling in their studies will be able to get PR in Malaysia.

I would like to ask our leaders, what about SPOUSES OF MALAYSIAN CITIZENS?

We are in the country for decades on “Long Term Social Visit Pass” our visas state

“Any form of employment is strictly prohibited, spouse of a Malaysian Citizen”

We are not here for social purposes, but here in the capacity of “Principal Care Givers and Providers for our Malaysian Families”

Spouses of Malaysian citizens face a whole range of challenges with regard to our application and renewals of the “social visit pass” and application for permenant residency, leave alone citizenship.

Apart from the frequent renewal of visas for non-citizen spouses for decades, we need to have our Malaysian spouses physically present even for renewals. This puts pressure on our families, especially if the sponsoring Malaysian spouse is ill or is away on business.

Adding insult to injury, the women spouses are required to furnish immigration a letter from our spouses granting us permission to work!!!

Then again, a spouse who is estranged from the Malaysia or whose spouse has passed on, cannot get an endorsement to work for want of this letter!!! What then becomes of their Malaysian children who are dependent on them?? Who will provide for them?

Currently spouses like myself have to pay double charges for healthcare in Government Hospitals, unemployed spouses cannot open individual bank accounts, we pay tourist rates at tourist attractions, though we are residents in Malaysia. What more if we wish to study further, we pay international student rates!! All this despite being a part of the Malaysian family.

Take for instance myself, a mother of two, living in Malaysia for 18 years, yet I am on a one years pass. Though I am told that my Permenant Resident status is approved, I’m given to understand that there is a long queue awaiting the processing of the letter.

Many of the foreign spouses were very excited when they read in the media that the Home Ministry had expedited the approvals, however upon checking with the immigration, we could not get a confirmation as to when the letter would be sent out to us, alas more than six months and our letter boxes remain empty.

The Government should take into consideration that non-citizen spouses are the key care givers and providers to their Malaysian families and therefore expedite the Permanent Residency for Spouses within reasonable time-limits. Many of us are given a run around, even to secure a mere application form for submission of PR. There seems to be a gender discrimination for non-citizen husbands who are required to have 10 years continued stay, in comparison to non-citizen women spouses who are required to remain in the country for 5 years to be eligible to apply for PR.

There seems to be a lack of clear guidelines and protocols for approvals, often we are at the mercy of the attending immigration officers and their interpretation of the law and policy, which differs from Putra Jaya to Pusat Damansara!!

Whilst on paper the requirement is 5/10 years stay, in practice the approval process seems to be taking decades from the time of application to receiving the RED IC!!! The colossal documentation ranges from submitting copies of all passports (old and new) for the entire family, to wedding invitations, etc etc… .

When applications are rejected it would augur well for the applicant to be given reasons for rejection, this would enable a clear and transparent appeal towards the resubmission of the documents, where necessary. It would be a good practice to ensure that clear policies, time frames and protocols are not only set out but also implemented and delivered by respective departments.

It is also apparent that the processing for permanent residency ceases when the non-citizen spouses are estranged or widowed, what then becomes of their Malaysian children & other dependents, it really puts tremendous stress and pressure on the family unit.

In recent times, we have seen some positive steps being taken in certain areas, such as permitting Malaysian women overseas to register their children at the Malaysian high commission. However there is still scope for review in areas pertaining to the policy at immigration department.

In the interest of many Malaysian families, it is expedient that not only procedures with regard to citizenship should be reviewed but it is also incumbent that guidelines and policy are clearly elucidated and implemented for the Permenant Residency of Spouses of Malaysian citizens,

Najib Urges MIC Not To Use Caste System To Determine Leaders

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called on the MIC not to use the caste system as a key or determinant factor to choose leaders at all levels.

Leaders must be selected, based on their ability, capability and credibility to serve the Indian community, he said.

"Just because you are from the lower caste, doesn't mean you cannot hold position in MIC. Are you to be condemned forever?

"No. MIC must be a modern progressive party which adopts to changes and not be too carried away by the caste system to choose the leaders.

"We should look at he the best leader for the Indian community? If he is the best leader, doesn't matter where he comes from.

"In Umno, we don't practise that. In Umno, there are a son of rubber tapper, son of nelayan (fisherman) jadi (becoming) menteri besar, ada anak petani jadi menteri (we have a farmer's son becoming minister), that is social mobility.

"We want social mobility in this country and that is important for the Indian community," he said in his speech at the MIC 64th General Assembly here Sunday.

Najib also called on the MIC to emulate the "changes" taking shape in Umno now.

"This is what I mean, change. Umno is changing, you must also change together, we changed for the better. And I promise, as prime minister, I will be fair to all the communities," he said in his speech at the MIC's 64th General Assembly here today.

Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, was confident that MIC could deliver, if the party was willing to change with the times and also recognised the signals of the Indian community.

"What are the signals of the Indian community? That, you have to ask yourself, I don't want to speak on behalf of the Indian community," he said.

He also gave a word of advice to MIC leaders to refrain from internal politics as it could destroy the party.

"Don't get carried away with MIC politics. Internal politics will only destroy MIC. If you realise that, and you realise that you need to serve the Indian community better, then MIC will be the stronger and more respected party," he said.

The prime minister also reminded MIC leaders to solve their party leadership woes in a way that could strengthen the party, and not destroy it.

Najib also reminded delegates about the past history of the late Tun V. T. Sambanthan and Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam who also faced leadership problems which split the party.

"We cannot afford that anymore. As we move forward to the 13th General Election, you have to resolve your leadership problem in a way that strengthens MIC, not destroys MIC.

"I don't want to interfere, I don't have the solutions. You find the solutions that strengthen the leadership of MIC but don't fight and destroy MIC.

"That is my plea to you...choose your leadership to make MIC better, stronger and more respected by the Indian community," he said, adding that the party should also be more inclusive and work together with 'good' Indian NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in order to fulfil the Indian needs.

"I underlined the 'good' Indian NGOs. Work with them, don't exclude them. Be more inclusive with the good Indian NGOs.

"If I can work with them, why can't MIC work with them? Work with them, serve the Indian community," added the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Najib, who is also Umno president, stressed that all BN component parties should carry out the respective post-mortems to gauge their strengths and weaknesses, following their dismal performance in the last general election.

"We must rebuild our strength and overcome our weaknesses to enable us to emerge stronger in the next general election," he said.

Najib also praised the MIC as a BN component party which has remained loyal to the coalition, and had gone through 12 general elections along with the other partners, garnering the support of the Indian community for, initially, the Alliance and then the BN.

"The MIC has been a part of the political landscape of the country since it was set up 64 years ago. It will only be appropriate for me, as the BN chairman and on behalf of my BN colleagues, to acknowledge the MIC in the context of support for the Alliance and the BN all this while," he said.

Najib also acknowledged the role of the MIC in shaping the Indian community in the country, especially in the education sector and in terms of economic opportunities.

For example, he said, the Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED) was a good initiative of the MIC to help the community in the field of education.

MIED scholarships have helped to produce many doctors, engineers and lawyers from the Indian community, he said.

Najib also acknowledged the contributions of MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu to the party, the BN and the government, saying that when he was a member of the Cabinet, he had tirelessly raised issues and problems related to the Indian community.

The prime minister praised the determination displayed by Samy Vellu in setting up the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) in Kedah.

"Not every political party can establish a university. We have to recognise that," he said.