Saturday, March 26, 2011

Business Development awareness programme hosted by SME Corp and SITF

Potential borrower receiving info from SME Corp staff

SITF hosted a special introduction to the business development programmes provided by SME Corp on Friday, March 25 from 2pm to 5pm at Dewan Soma at Wisma Tun Sambanthan. Over 70 Indian business people participated in this program which was jointly organized by SITF and Indian business associations.
The programme was officiated by Datuk Dr Subramaniam, the SITF Chairman and Human Resources Minister. In his speech he highlighted that the Taskforce recognizes that inability to access business loans is a major complaint from Indian businesses. This programme is one of the many initiatives by SITF in creating greater access and inclusion in programmes organized by Federal government initiatives to assist the small business people.

Mr Muthusamy saying a word of welcome at the Awareness programme
 Mr. Muthusamy of the Malaysian Indian Restaurant owners Association acknowledged the effective link role the Taskforce is playing between the agencies and the community. Mr Meor Shahril, an officier of SME Corp provided a comprehensive overview of the two business development programmes available, namely Business Accelerator Programme (BAP) and Enrichment & Enhancement Programme (E2).
In the discussion that followed there were many questions raised on who is eligibility to apply and the conditions for access to loans. A number of points were highlighted. One pertains to the six months business experience requirement which many felt does not encourage the first time borrowers. Another pertains to undertaking a business on a location which has local authority approval and permit. Many indicated that they operated from the home. Current SME corp policy excludes these from applying.

Mr Meor Shahril, SME Corp officer
 There were also many positive comments received, relating to the wholistic nature of SME corps assistance. The four key features were better understood. These include diagnostic rating, capacity building, advisory & technical assistance and finally access to financing.

Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria who is the SITF secretary, acknowledged that more needs to be done in not only creating awareness but also to play a role in providing advice and guidance thereby ensuring the potential borrower is able to access credit. “We really need to ensure that small and micro business participate in these economic development programmes. One clear way these programmes can assist is through the capacity development programs”. SITF together with the Indian business associations will monitor participation.
Earlier in his speech Datuk Dr Subramaniam announced that the Taskforce is exploring the possibility of establishing a special unit which will focus of enabling and empowering the micro and small Indian business. This new development will clearly enhance Indian business participation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review to strengthen delivery to the Indian business community

At the discussion with various financial institutions
Last Friday (March 11, 2011) the SITF secretariat organized two meetings to follow up some of the major questions raised by the Indian community through various business awareness programs organized by the Taskforce
A number of key concerns are:-
·         Questions pertaining to interest charged for micro loans especially loans below RM50,000
·         Questions pertaining to being black listed by financial rating institutions
·         Questions pertaining to options available in terms of business loans
·         Questions pertaining to financial literacy, awareness and training

Meeting One – Reviewing past experiences & charting forward
The first meeting took place at 11.30am at Bank Negara with representatives from Bank Negara from Financial surveillance Department, AKPK & Corporate communication Department. Others present were from BSN and Agro Bank.
In the discussions that followed we noted that the interest rates for micro loans are high. This is not only due to cost of operating the loans but also due to the high risk attached to this. Both BSN and Agro Bank indicate that they are lending using their funds rather than soft loans via Government provisions which Tekun is benefiting from.
Also noted that financial literacy is the main problem namely the informal business community is not really getting their books organized and not using basic financial planning and management approaches. This can be address through capacity building programs.
The role of the credit rating agencies is to provide basic information on the financial history and behavior of the potential borrower. On the past settled loans and if records don’t capture it, it is important for the borrower to correct this. If need be a complaint could be lodged with bank Negara on problems encountered.
SITF will consider organizing a whole package of financial development programs using all the current Federal government coordinated programs as a package such as capacity building though AKPK, business training and advisory services such as Bank Negara’s LINK etc. Then channel them to a whole range of micro credit programs such as AIM, Tekun, BSN, Agro bank etc.  SITF is considering launching a campaign to 30 different small towns in the middle of the year through a national campaign on access to wealth creation & micro business.
It is then up to the community to reorganize themselves and match up to the requirements over the next 12 months to become more formalized and bankable. Through financial literacy we need to modernize ourselves and become acceptable to financial institutions.

SITF team together with Indian business rep at SME Corp

Meeting Two- Exploring new options
The second meeting was at SME Corp at MATRADE in the afternoon at 3pm on the same day. For this meeting SITF had invited a number of Indian business associations and three turned up namely MIBA, Indian restaurants and the barbers association. Also present was the business unit from the MIC youth section. The SME Corp officers explained their business products and this scheme looked very attractive as they have recently introduced:-
·         Enrichment & Enhancement Programme (E2)
·         Business Accelerator Programme (BAP)
These two products focused on four major areas of financial services
·         Diagnostics
·         Capacity Building
·         Advisory & Technical support
·         Facilitating access to Financing
On this matter SITF has an earlier article on these features. One point became very clear in the course of the discussion that very few Indians were coming to SME Corp for assistance and this is an area of concern. Therefore it is important to ensure a majority of Indians come to know of SME corp and their economic development programmes.
SITF has decided to host two follow up meeting to ensure that a larger number of Indian participate.
First, on Friday March 18, 2011 at 6pm, SITF is hosting a meeting with all the major Indian business associations at the Jln Gasing Lotus restaurant. The objective is to brief and ensure that each of the associations will play their role. This is a planning meeting to organize the March 25th meeting.
Second, on Friday March 25, 2011 from 2pm to 3pm – SITF will host a special public meeting to introduce SME corp. Our target is to reach 300 people at this meeting and after the talks, Q & A, there be booths/clinic time for one to one discussion with SME corp officials.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Business Forum on Working Capital Guarantee Scheme Dialogue

The Panel of speakers at the Business Forum
The Business forum hosted by SITF on March 4, 2011 at the Auditorium Soma, Wisma Tun Sambanthan, KL was very well attended. Three hundred and forty seven (347) people had registered. There was lots of interest on the WCGS and available business loans.

The panel was well represented with speakers from PROKHAS (MoF), Dato Kamal Ali and En Hamid Mohd Noor.  From the banks we had En Zainudin Hj Zakaria from May Bank, En Zakimi Zaman Khan from AmBank and Puan Eliza Dato Abdul Aziz from CIMB

The Q & A was moderated by Dato Jaspal Singh and the SITF Chairman, Datuk Dr Subrmaniam shared some closing words encouraging the participants to access the WCGS and assured that SITF together with the Business Associations will monitor the outcomes.

However during the question and answer time a dominant theme which emerged was the inability of the Indian business community to access these loans. The comments reflected the notion that the requirements were hard to fulfill and even in cases where they could meet it they were rejected because they were Indians

Participants at the forum

The banks assured that they were seeking good and potential borrowers and if the requirements were met no one is discriminated based on ethnicity. However financial track record, repayment history, business viability including ability to repay still remain the most critical prerequisites

Dato Jaspal Singh and Datuk Dr Denison assured that the Taskforce together with business associations will set up a special monitoring team to ensure that Indians are able to benefit from the RM1.5 billion WCGS scheme allocation for non Bumiputeras by the Federal government. The Indian Chamber President who was also present also agreed that MAICCI will play a supporting role in this process together with SITF

The target is to assist between 300 and 500 Indian business to apply for the WCGS operated by PROKHAS. There was some optimism in the air as we concluded and many made the effort to meet bank representatives in their booths and secure the necessary relevant information and forms.

Participants at the business forum
Only time will reveal the results. The start has been made and we must move on with confidence in the specific allocations of the federal government to enhance business innovation and wealth creation.

SITF partnering with Selangor PDRM

Denison, Datuk Thaiveegan & Siva together Police & SITF Officers
 SITF secretariat team paid a visit to Selangor Police headquarters to meet Datuk A Thaiveegan, the Deputy CPO on wednesday March 2, 2011. From SITF the team was lead by its secretary Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria together with Dato Siva Subramaniam and two staff Ms Premla Ravin and Ms Selvamalar accompanied them.

Datuk Thaiveegan briefed the SITF team that Selangor Police was keen to organize a program to engage 1,000 Indians from Selangor. Tan Sri IGP has already agreed to speak at the program on community policing and crime prevention.

The Taskforce has agreed to play a partnering role. The SITF chair, Datuk Dr Subramaniam has also agreed to come towards the end of the one day program to share his thoughts with the young leaders.

Crime prevention and emphasis of being partners alongside the Police is a very important dimension and therefore this engagement especially among Indian youths (between 17 to 40 years) and the Police is very critical. The Police had already hosted an earlier meeting among NGOs. Taskforce manager Mrs Premla Ravin participated in that program.

It was a very fruitful exchange and SITF recognized that there is a very important role to engage the Indian community on matters pertaining to crime and the Police force. Very often there is wrong perception but an healthy engagement will enhance the relation and partnership with the Police.

The one day special interactive program will be held on Sat April 2, 2011 at the Police HQ in Selangor, entitled a Day with the Police

The program will include special talks and interactive sessions on seeing the Police as community role models. Many young people like to join the Police force and therefore this will a useful experience. The sessions will be led by senior Police officers. There will be an opportunity to visit and view different aspects of Police work including seeing an exhibition of arms, Police equipments and the dog unit. There will be an exhibition on drugs and a possibility of visiting the lock ups

Datuk Thaiveegan chairing the meeting at the Selangor Police HQ
We are hoping that this will be a start of many crime prevention programs in Selangor. In due time more sessions will be organized at the district level especially at high risk neighborhood level. There has to be concerted effort on reducing Indian involvement in serious crime as well as change in perceptions. This proposed program in April is a start of many more to come in that direction.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Initial Findings of My Daftar campaign

Siva & Denison together with Datuk Dr Subra at the Press Conference on My Daftar campaign
SITF Chairman Datuk Dr Subramaniam announced yesterday (March 1, 2011) that a total of 14, 882 Malaysian Indians have submitted the relevant citizenship forms during the My Daftar campaign held from Feb 19 to 26, 2011.

Total               14, 8882

            Break Down of figures

  • Birth certificate: 3,546
  • Identification cards        2,569
  • Citizenship                    7,486
  • Others                          1,281

It is also estimated that another 10,000 had come and taken forms however within the campaign period they had not returned the forms.

In this context and in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the national Registration Department, SITF has extended the submission period for another week. The submissions made between Feb 28 and March 4 will also be included into the ‘My daftar’ campaign figures.

The general public could:-

  • From Mon Feb 28 to Friday March 4, 2011 during office hours go to any NRD office and submit the forms.

  • For Sat March 5 and Sunday March 6, 2011 from 9am to 1pm can go to the State HQ office of NRD and make submissions.


Alor Star
019 5591765
Jln Anson (Island)
016 4580750
017 5518891
Shah Alam
012 3187044
Maju Junction
012 2034830
017 6319994
Air Keroh
016 6163711
019 9609142
JB city
016 7833845

  • For the next six months ‘SITF My Daftar special unit’ headed by Dato Siva Subramaniam will focus on case solutions ensuring that the 14,882 are approved, encourage the 10,000 who took the forms to fill them, make their submissions and monitor their solutions

SITF AFTER SIX MONTHS - Focus Areas & Staff team

SITF secretariat team together with SITF Chairman, Datuk Dr Subramaniam
Our Prime Minister established the Special Implementation Taskforce on the Indian community (SITF) in June 2010. The SITF secretariat became operational in August 2010. Over the past six months, SITF has become a household name in the Indian community because of the two major grassroots initiatives namely Program Mesra Rakyat and the My daftar campaign

In both these national wide programs, the SITF Chairman, Datuk Dr Subramanian and team sought to bring the federal government agencies to the hand reach of the Indian community.

Through the main policy and implementation discussions with Federal agency heads at Putrajaya and with the delivery officers at the district level, the SITF team sought to bridge the gap between the Federal government on the one hand and the people especially the bottom 40% on the other.

SITF role has been made possible due to the support received from political volunteers from the MIC and other BN component parties, community leaders from religious, business, community and social voluntary organizations. As SITF is an institution under the Prime Minister’s department it has been possible to play a bridge building role.

We are still a very new institution facing many challenges, however the impact has been great and we have fostered confidence especially among ordinary people that Federal government cares for them and is accessible to them. Over the coming months through an improved solutions track record SITF will seek to win ‘hearts and minds’.

We all agree that more needs to be done and we are confident that together we can seek the transformation that is intended with a vision to see especially the poor and low income from among the Malaysian Indian community improve their quality of life and experience higher income levels resulting in better outcomes on par with the rest of Malaysian society.


SITF’s focus has been in three main areas. We have worked to strengthen these and in the next six months we will consolidate policy advocacy and formulation, community intervention & delivery and thirdly, stakeholder partnerships and engagement.

Coordinating Policy advocacy, review & input on six major areas of concern in partnership and cooperation with relevant federal government agencies. In these we seek to secure basic data on Indian community participation and identify the current hurdles and draw up strategies to enhance Indian participation.

The six areas of policy concern are:-

1) Poverty & low income,
2) Employment opportunities in the public sector,
3) Economic development (access to loans and training),
4) Ensuring quality foundational education (pre school, primary & secondary education),
5) Enhancing post secondary educational and training opportunities and
6) Concerns pertaining to crime and dysfunctional families

Organising and facilitating direct community based initiatives which have a direct impact on the needs and concerns of ordinary people at the grassroots. Three such initiatives are:-

1)      Program Mesra Rakyat – at the district level to ensure there is effective delivery by all the relevant federal government agencies especially social welfare, sosco, micro loans, skills training, documentation etc. An ongoing program and we will organize more in 2011

2)      My Daftar National Campaign – held from Feb 19 to 26, 2011 to identify and document all Malaysian Indians without relevant citizenship documents. We have identified about 15,000 people and another 10,000 people who have taken the forms but have not submitted them. This is ongoing to ensure solutions over the next 6 to 9 months.

3)      Community Initiatives – at a pilot phases SITF is promoting programs for the bottom 40% such as

·        Micro loans for informal sector through Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, financial advice and management through AKPK (Bank Negara), and micro loans and training through SME Corp.

·        Ensure increased youth participation through Indian based youth organizations in all program by the federal government such as Ministry of Youth & Sports.

·        Neighbourhood based community programs at high rise low cost urban flats in the Klang valley. In the first phase to initiate community based programs at Lembah Subang, Desa Menteri and Petaling Utama.

·        Networking with Malaysian Royal Police in crime prevention programs and addressing community issues pertaining to crime, detentions and reducing Indian involvement

Networking and stakeholder consultation – SITF has sought the partnership of political parties, religious institutions, voluntary societies, business association and professional organizations and individuals.

Both at policy discussions and review and at the level of community action, SITF has sought the support of individuals and organizations. We have fostered a close working relation with all including the media and academic institutions. This networking will be strengthened through increased engagement and dialogue. In addition the SITF website in English and Tamil will enhance connectivity to a wider audience.


 There are currently five people working in the SITF staff team under the PM department (via Pemandu). The team first started with the employment of a full time secretary in August 1, 2010 and subsequently the recruitment of a program consultant in September and two staff in October 2011. The third staff was recruited in March 1, 2011.

The five SITF secretariat members are:-

Secretary          :          Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Consultant        :           Dato Siva Subramanian

Managers         :           Mr Thanasagaran Maniam

                        :           Mrs Premla Balakrishan Ravin

                        :           Ms Selvamalar Selvaraju

From the Minister’s office Mr SP Manivasagum (Minister’s Special office on Cabinet Committee on Indian community) works closely with the SITF team.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Working Visit by YM Dato Raja Azahar, Deputy Secretary General Ministry of Home Affairs to PJ JPN Office

Dato Raja Azahar togther with community leaders at JPN-PJ

The Deputy Secretary General arrived at 11am to the Federal government building in New Town PJ on Feb 24, 2011 (Thursday). It is now five days into the ‘My daftar campaign’. PJ office has been very busy as the Petaling district covers a wider area and many Indians are residing here especially in low cost- high rise flats.

Mr Padma of Lembah Subang presenting a souvenir to Dato Raja
 Before Dato Raja Azahar entered the JPN building he was greeted by Lembah Subang community leader and residents who had come in two buses to make their submissions. The Selangor MIC has organized the bus as well as a commissioner of oath to certify many of the documents prior to their submission at JPN today.

During the course of his working visit and press conference Dato Raja Azahar said that he made this special effort to give moral support to JPN officers who have been hard at work and also have ground knowledge of the developments and issues. He acknowledged that JPN officers are playing an very important role in assisting the people.

In addition he acknowledged that a good feature of this campaign was the role played by political parties, voluntary and religious organisations. This he saw personally when he spoke to the people from Lembah Subang who had come to make their submissions

Dato Raja Azahar recognized that one of the major problems in the community is the lack of awareness among the poorer sections of the Indian community in ensuring that they secure the necessary documents. Citizenship documents are of utmost importance to ensure that ordinary people can exercise the citizenship rights and responsibilities.

He admitted that while the My daftar has brought to public light the documentation issues, however there is lots more work to be done to ensure that in the processing period the applicants fulfill all the basic requirements and secures supporting documents. He noted that in some cases this might be difficult and therefore on a case by case basic Putrajaya could review the applications.

Dato reviewing some files with JPN Selangor Director Tuan Hj Mustapaha
He also recognized that in the post campaign period and in order to strengthen the solving the cases, contract officers may need to be appointed. He added that the Taskforce could request the Federal government for addition funds to try and resolve all cases within this year. Some of the retired JPN officers could be recruited to assist in this process.

Also present were PM’s special Indian officer Datuk Ravin Ponniah, MIC Selangor Deputy Chairman Dato Gopalkrishan, MIC Selangor co ordinator Mr Siva Subramaniam and Taskforce secretary, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria