Chinese Malaysians played big role in independence struggle, development: Najib

PETALING JAYA • The Chinese community in Malaysia played an important role in the economic and business development of the country, as well as in the struggle to achieve independence, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"I'm sure everyone remembers independence leaders such as Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun H.S Lee and Yap Ah Loy who built and developed Kuala Lumpur," Datuk Seri Najib said in a blog post on Tuesday.

In his post celebrating Chinese New Year, Mr Najib wrote that the festivities are a reminder that Malaysia is a unique melting pot with each race playing an important role in the nation's development.

He added that in terms of administration, the government has ensured inclusive policies that would fulfil the needs of every citizen regardless of race and religion.

His comments followed controversial remarks last month by the leader of a coalition of conservative Muslim groups called Ummah that only the Malays had resisted the British colonists and Japanese occupiers as well as battled Communist insurgents. Mr Najib's wooing of the Chinese also comes just ahead of a general election which is expected within weeks.

Prime Minister Najib also wrote in his post that he drafted policies to meet the needs of the Chinese community by holding discussions with groups such as the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and Huazong, the Federation of Chinese Associations.

He also cited the announcement to set up 10 new Chinese vernacular schools and the annual allocation of RM50 million (S$17 million) to improve Chinese schools.

In addition, under the 2018 Budget, Chinese small and medium industry traders were given special access to the RM50 million allocation, and Chinese hawkers can apply for a micro-credit loan involving an allocation of RM30 million.

The fate of Chinese Malaysians living in New Villages, set up in the 1950s by the British during the colonial era, was not forgotten, with a RM75 million allocation for their restoration and development.

"Overall, I believe the needs of the Chinese community in Malaysia will continue to be addressed by the government and hopefully, with the beginning of the new year, the Chinese community will prosper in line with the nation's prosperity," Mr Najib said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese Malaysians played big role in independence struggle, development: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe