Posts Tagged ‘NGO’


July 23rd, 2013
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Posting this on behalf of organisers. They are organising a seminar on agrofood industry (basically agriculture related to food production – fruits, vegetable, fisheries, animal rearing etc). Those interested can click on the link below or visit

Good opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn about agriculture industry and some of the schemes available.

MIFIS[click for larger image]


Stateless Indians

December 12th, 2012
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What is statelessness? It means you are not tagged to a nationality (country), or in other words, you are not a citizen of any country. You may be given a status of permanent residents, but that’s not the same as being a citizen.

There are many figures being bandied about on the number of stateless Malaysians of Indian origin in Malaysia. Ranging from a small 9000++ (result of MyDaftar forms taken) to 450,000 (estimation by Hindraf based on Khir Toyo’s statement of 40,000 stateless Indians in Selangor itself, back in 2008). Pakatan Rakyat in recent times is saying there’s about 300,000 of them, which is based on some hypothetical estimation.

The truth is, no proper study has been conducted on this issue. At best we can have some sampling or exercises like MyDaftar which can provide some estimates. MyDaftar relies on the number of forms taken by potential applicants. If 9,000 forms were taken, doesn’t mean only got 9,000 cases, although one can ask why others didn’t take the forms. Maybe unaware, or unable to do so?

I’m taking an unorthodox (and probably another ballpark figure) way to estimate. If I add up my family, relatives, friends, acquaintances etc., probably there’s about 1000 Malaysian Indian people in my circle of contacts. Out of that, I know of less than 5 cases of people having permanent residence status. If extrapolate to 2 million Indians, then would be at least 10,000 PRs. Let’s triple it, for the sake of missing out those in underserved areas. so, 30,000 cases.

Secondly, the number of Indian plantation workers is dwindling by the day. If there are 30,000 such workers (x 4 for family members = 120,000 people), is it possible all of them are stateless? Further more, there is an influx of workers from India, so there’s a risk of these workers being categorised as stateless Malaysians as well. Let’s say 50% of the people are stateless, so that’s about 60,000 people.

Third, Tamil schools are one way to identify kids with no documentation. If a school has 20 such cases, then x 523 schools = 10,460 cases. If the family of the kid is also stateless, then 10, 460 x 4 (4 in a family) = 41,840 cases.

Total them up: 30,000 + 60,000 + 41,840 = 131,840, round it upwards to nearest ten thousand -> 140,000 stateless people is my upper bound ballpark figure. Obviously some of the people will be double counted if school and plantation is in same place. I guess a more realistic figure is about 50,000 – 100,000 stateless people.

Question that arise is are the efforts taken to register them sufficient? Is some sort of “amnesty” required to get them citizenship? Can there be a one-off process to settle this issue?

While politicians battle it out, one NGO has been working in these kind of issue for nearly 30 years. DHRRA Malaysia has plenty of experience handling statelessness issues. They estimated that between 2003 and 2006, 20,000 cases of women without documents were recorded. While in the article below, they mentioned about submitting 7,000 cases to NRD.

IT all started in 1974, when a group of young volunteers ventured into the outskirts of cities to help empower Indian women with knowledge and basic skills.

However when they got there, they had to deal with a much bigger problem involving statelessness, which was prevalent in the rural communities especially in estates and plantations.

The group that later registered themselves under the name Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas, Malaysia (DHRRA), decided to take on the monumental task of giving back identities to these stateless people and have been doing so for over three decades now.

“Since we started, until today, we have submitted over 7,000 cases of people not having any reliable data on them to the National Registration Department (NRD) and we have managed to resolve about 5,000 cases so far,’’ said DHRRA president Saravanan Sinapan.

Saravanan said a major stumbling block was the long and winding process with some cases taking as long as three to four years to resolve.

“A big problem we face is when gathering information such as the mother’s name when trying to help stateless children.

“It makes our job doubly hard as it takes time, effort and funds to track down lost family members,’’ he said.

He related a case of a young boy who had come to them seeking help to get a permanent citizenship and the struggles he and his adoptive family endured with government agencies.

“His mother had left with a neighbour when he was a baby,’’ related DHRAA women’s programme director Nanthini Ramalo.

“The neighbour decided to adopt him, and when he was 12, they managed to get him a green IC, which is only temporary identity document,’’ Nanthini said.

According to Nanthini, green IC holders are neither citizens nor permanent residents. However, those with green card ICs and birth certificates are able to apply for a MyKad.

But the problem was, the boy had no information of his birth mother. Her identity was a crucial information required for him to apply for his legal documents.

“He came to us seeking help when he wanted to further his studies in a local university but was deemed stateless and could not qualify,’’ she said.

The process to get his MyKad was a long and frustrating process of government red tape and endless trips to the NRD office to track down his birth mother.

“The NRD’s requirement is that the mother’s name must be furnished and luckily for us, we managed to eventually find her through a public appeal via The Star.

“Just imagine if we could not find her (the mother), the boy would never have been able to further his studies and would have ended being exploited for his statelessness through no fault of his own,’’ Nanthini said.

According to Saravanan, there are hundreds of similar cases of parents not registering their children’s birth in Malaysia, and the majority are from the plantation and estate workers.

“Due to the their statelessness, they have lived a life of poverty and discrimination and often end up languishing in detention centres simply because there is a lack of data on them, and what is worse is this vicious cycle of statelessness is handed down to the next generation,’’ he said.

While DHRRA deals with each application on a case-by-case basis, but with countless trips to the NRD and long delays are hampering them from helping people in a similar state in a more holistic manner.

But the matter, Saravanan said, can be expedited if the government were to conduct an amnesty exercise for stateless communities just like what they did for illegal immigrants under the “6P” programme last year.

“An amnesty exercise for the undocumented Malaysians can solve the problem stateless community as it is crucial to have good data to know the numbers as there have been a lot of confusion of late over the true number of stateless communities,’’ he said, adding that there still many people living without an identity in the outskirts.

Apart from that, another aspect of DHRRA’s role is to legalise marriages in the Indian community.

“You will be surprised to know that we have cases of couples going through a customary Hindu wedding ceremony without registering their marriage.

“We continuously stress the importance of having proper legal documentation and empowering women by educating them on their rights; as they fail to realise that the ramifications of not being legally married pose future problems like their right to pension and property as well as the legitimacy of their children,’’ Nanthini said.

This, she added, was also common in the estates and plantation areas where the community does not see the need to register their marriages and children’s birth; as many families felt that they would continue to live in the plantations for the rest of their lives.

“It is only later when they migrate into urban areas, and when they start to look for jobs or try to secure bank loans or even apply for a government low-cost house, that the bitterness of their stateless state sinks in,’’ Saravanan said.

DHRRA also conducts marriage registration ceremonies nationwide as well as counselling services, workshops and training programmes for women.

It has centres in Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Negri Sembilan with the help of some 215 volunteers.

“Our volunteers are retired civil servants, headmasters, teachers and university students whose dedication and passion have made us stronger.

“Now, what we need is a change in policies and laws that would enable us to do more for the marginalised community,’’ said Saravanan.

For details, call 03-7874 7680/81.


BBN organised Nambikai Nam Nadu Unity Nite concert to unite Indian groups

September 7th, 2012
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Its a good effort obviously, as we seldom have any concerts with performance reflecting the various groups. But I was curious why amidst the representatives from different communities, a leader from religious organisation was also garlanded. You have leaders from Sikh, Malayalee, Telugu and Ceylonese communities, and then there’s president of Malaysian Hindu Sangam.  Yes, Sikhs are based on religious categorisation as well, but I think nearly every Sikh is a Punjabi (maybe I’m wrong here). Wondering what happened to leader from Tamil community. Maybe can’t agree who to choose since got many splinters? But then, choosing a religious organisation leader is not the solution since you’ll then have to include leaders from other faiths like Bahaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam (since there are Indians following these faiths). I did ask the organiser but never got a reply. Anyway, that’s just me picking on the small points rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Interesting to note that the president of Barisan Bersatu Nambikei, Kalai Vanar was ex-PKR Jerai division head. He stood for Gurun state seat in 2008 elections but lost to BN candidate. He was (still is?) president of Alternative Action Group, another NGO. I remember him during the commotion when protesting at MPSJ regarding some housing project problem compensation (can search youtube).

 Since this group is interested to unite all the Indian community, why not we follow the association its  president and advisor of BBN. I’m sure they will be excellent role models for us. Here’s their twitter/FB accounts (do read all the interesting tweets they make)

BBN Facebook:


Ramesh Rao Krishna Naidu: (and facebook at

 Most recently, BBN staged a protest along with other NGOs at the HQ of a political party over the cases where some teenagers stepped on PM photo and also some others carried a flag. Watch the video here (

So, why wait, do join them and proclaim that you are united!


GREETINGS of vanakkam, vanthanam, namashkaram and namastehrang through the hall as five distinguished personalities welcomed their guests at the “Nambikai Nam Nadu” musical extravaganza at the Malawati Satdium in Shah Alam recently.

It was historic of sorts as the musical night was the largest and first of its kind held to unite the major Indian ethnic groups in the country.

More than 50 well-known local Indian singers and musicians kept the night alive with five hours of non-stop music and songs from movies of the black-and-white era to current hits and various cultural dances that kept the audience spellbound until the show closed at midnight.

Organised by non-governmental body Barisan Bersatu Nambikei (BBN), it attracted about 20,000 people from the Sikh, Tamil, Ceylonese, Malayalee and Telugu community.

“The musical night is held for one reason, to unite the entire Indian community under one roof,” said BBN president Kalai Vanar.

Vanar added the “Unity Nite 2012” themed “In Our Country We Place Our Trust” was not all about a one-off gathering but with the objective to unite all the ethnic groups as Indians and not proclaim themselves as different Indian ethnic group.

Meanwhile BBN special adviser Ramesh Rao in his speech pointed out the importance of tolerance among the different groups in order to move forward and develop as the country progressed.

For those who missed out on the show, it was undoubtedly spectacular as the initiative taken by the organisers was commendable.

With a combination of songs, both old and new, the show encouraged the young to search for their roots with respect to music and art.

At the interlude of the musical night, five special guests — Gerak Sikh president Tan Sri G. Darshan Singh Gill, All-Malaysia Malayalee Association president Tan Sri Ravindran Menon, Persatuan Kebajikan & Kebudayaan Telugu president Datuk Dr Prakash Rao, Malaysian Ceylonese Congress president Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan and Malaysia Hindu Sangam president S. Mohan Shan were each garlanded with the traditional Indian shawls as a mark of respect.


Mass marriage registration ceremony for 59 couples

September 7th, 2012
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This is yet another good effort by DHRRA Malaysia. Imagine if the couples continue to live without legal records, the problems faced by their children will multiply.

The problem of unregistered marriage lies with couples who either don’t think its important or is unaware.  Programs like this, hopefully would create awareness.

And yet, I wonder if in future the concept of marriage will cease to exist. If you have kids, just need to ensure the father and mother columns are filled.

THEY may not have been blushing brides and grooms, but they were certainly a bunch of relieved couples after having their marriages legalised in a mass registration ceremony held at Kuil Sri Siva Muniswara Alayam in Jalan Ipoh recently.

About 59 couples between the ages of 22 and 60, decked in their bestsarees and dhotis, the women wearing flowers in their hair and the men big smiles, registered their marriages at the temple in front of witnesses.

The event was organised by DHRRA Malaysia (Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas), a non-governmental organisation which helps the Indian community living in rural areas on various socialrelated issues.

Perfect union: Couples taking their oaths after the registration.
Perfect union: Couples taking their oaths after the registration.

DHRRA women’s programme director Nanthini Ramalo said that during their outreach programmes conducted in small towns all over the country, they realised that many couples lacked important documents such as marriage certificate.

“The problem lies in the fact that many couples, including the younger generation seem to give more importance to traditional marriage ceremonies and that registering the marriage is not necessary,”Nanthini said.

“They fail to realise that a non-legal marriage will result in their children being deemed as born out of wedlock and spouses who have not registered their marriages will not benefit from Socso and government pensions if one of their partners were to pass on,” she said.

“We explained to them its importance and we’re happy that many turned out today,” Nanthini said, adding that DHRRA will be carrying out more of such programmes in the future.


2 young EWRF volunteers talk about their experience

June 21st, 2012
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Hats off to the volunteers! Its not easy to get support from youths and adults nowadays. Even myself have reduced volunteerism time alot due to other commitments.

EWRF has been doing some good programs for last 30 over years. Hopefully they will continue with their good programs and we can try to support as much as possible.


VOLUNTEERISM is like an addiction; once you feel the high from reaping your efforts, it is difficult to get out of it. Or, at least, that’s the view of two young men.

When almost everyone else their age are busy partying on weekends, Kartick Arumugam, 25, and Ketheswaaran Nadarajah, 22, have their schedules packed with tutoring and coaching young children. Being beneficiaries of kind hearts themselves, the duo are carrying on the torch by dedicating their time and effort to help others in need.

Kartick, a final-year dentistry student, recalled how difficult times were for him and his family after his father passed away when he was 17 years old. Just as he was about to embark on his tertiary studies, his family was hit by a financial crisis.

While looking for help, I came across an NGO who was willing to partially support my studies and I took up the offer. — KARTICK ARUMUGAM

“While looking for help, I came across an NGO who was willing to partially support my studies and I took up the offer. I realised what an important role these types of organisations play in people’s lives, and it naturally came upon me to give back to the community,” he said.

As for Ketheswaaran, his father played a vital role in instilling the value of dedication and compassion.

“My father was a very dedicated discipline teacher, working in a school with a high record of problematic students. I grew up watching how he would go all out even during his off days to visit his students and their parents to ensure that they were doing well.

“True enough, the school’s discipline records got better by the year and I believe my father played a big role in the change of behaviour. I saw that these children needed attention and with the right approach, they can change for the better,” he said.

Although being a teacher’s son, Ketheswaaran would not say that he was an exemplary child.

“I gave my father a hard time too with my unfavourable antics,” he said, adding that he attended a different school.

Good choice: Ketheswaaran (second from left) guiding parents on tertiary study options for their children.

“I was enrolled in a “mentor-mentee” programme which brought about changes in my behaviour. Since the mentor was someone older but still in my age range, my friends and I tend to look to him for guidance and he influenced us in a good way,” he said.

The duo are now part of the team at Educational, Welfare and Research Foundation (EWRF), a charitable NGO dedicated to assisting the less privileged Indian students in the country.

Kartick, who leads the team of volunteers in Subang, explained that they work by assigning a team to cover an area.

“A programme can kick off once we can gather a pool of volunteers to work in a specific area. We are starting with the young ones by working with Tamil schools to identify Year One and Two pupils who are struggling with the English language. These pupils are then enrolled for free English tuition conducted by us.

“The English language plays a vital role in instilling confidence in them to communicate with the other races, and prepare them for equal participation once they step into secondary school.

“We also have a 21-day camp for Year Six pupils after the UPSR examinations. The activities instill good values and self-confidence to ensure a smoother transition to secondary school,” he said.

Ketheswaaran leads the team of volunteers in Ampang.

“We also have an innovative programme to prevent youths from getting involved in crime. Similar to mentor-mentee programmes, a team of volunteers will have regular sporting activities like football training during the weekends at the school to encourage the boys to participate.

“Generally, boys are very interested in sports and we find that this is a good way to inculcate good values like punctuality and self-discipline. We have a system of rewarding them, with gifts like sports merchandise, for good conduct and the response has been encouraging.

“Not only does sporting activities tire them out in a healthy way, it also deters them from joining bad company,” said Ketheswaaran.

Besides that, EWRF conducts personality tests for students from all races from Form Three to Five to guide them on their career path.

“I personally would have benefited from this test as I recently found my interest to be linked with management, but I am currently pursuing a degree in civil engineering. Many are unaware of the various career choices available and only stick to the famous professions.

“We also coordinate the placement of underachieving students in government skills-training institutes,” he added.

Established in January 1979, EWRF holds a mission to promote education as key for advancement in the community and generate a sense of self worth as well as discipline, which in turn encourages greater participation in the social and economic development of the nation.

Initially, the activities were directed more towards medium and high-achieving students to improve and maintain their social behaviour and progress in education. However, the focus has been switched to the under-achievers in view of the increasing number of school dropouts and rise in juvenile and criminal activities.

EWRF is based in Kuala Lumpur and has 23 branches throughout the country. The headquarters is at 3rd floor, Wisma RA, 12 Jalan Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur. Many programmes are running concurrently throughout the year.

To sign up as a volunteer and for more details, call 03-2693 4671/03-2693 4672 or the toll-free number 1800 883 973 or visit