Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak`s decision to pick Hindraf chairman P Wayathamoorthy as a Deputy Minister in his office reflects his commitment and seriousness to uplift the ethnic Indian minority community, academics here believe.
For the first time, Najib has appointed a representative from the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in his cabinet in order to bring positive change to the Indian community`s socio-economic position, HELP University`s senior lecturer Dr K Harikrishnan felt.
Hindraf, once an anti-government NGO, signed a memorandum of understanding with the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional on April 18, with six key points aimed at bringing financially poor ethnic Indians into the country`s mainstream.
"With this appointment, we hope that Waythamoorthy will keep to his word by bringing a new wave of hope to the Indian community. Today, the whole responsibility lies on his shoulder and th Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) to ensure all promises are kept," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times said.
Waythamoorthy`s appointment was however criticised by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who called the Hindu rights group an extremist party.
Waythamoorthy`s brother, Uthayakumar, who claims to be Hindraf`s real leader, called him a political opportunist for accepting the cabinet post.
However, Hindraf adviser N Ganesan, lambasted the critics, saying that Najib needed individuals or organisations to deliver the transformation needed for the Indian community.
Associate Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said Waythamoorthy had a big responsibility now to come true to his words.
"I believe those who swung back to BN will watch closely his plans and achievements. I think it is a duty of all the Indian elected representatives to focus on issues related to minorities, including the tasks given under the special unit to monitor Indian community-related policies," he said.
The head of the Department of Indian Studies at Universiti Malaya, Prof Dr S Kumaran hoped the selection of six representatives from the Indian community would contribute to taking the community to a higher level.
"The appointment of Waythamoorthy was unexpected. So, he should be wise to use this opportunity to show his dedication to develop the Indian community so that they continue to trust him as a pillar of leadership," he said.
Meanwhile, the appointment of the People`s Progressive Party (PPP) Penang chairman Loga Bala Mohan as Deputy Federal Territories Minister is also expected to improve the lives of the Indian community, especially in the urban areas, state owned Bernama news agency said.