SERDANG: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is mastering more Tamil words as he reaches out to the Indian community, saying his pledges to them are not mere “vetti pechu” (empty talk) but “nijam” (true).

Closing the Indian Progressive Front’s (IPF) 25th annual general assembly here yesterday, the Prime Minister said Barisan Nasional would do all in its power to lend a helping hand.

“This is my commitment to uplift the Indian community. We want to develop the spirit of nambikei (trust) between the community and the Government,” he said in his address.

Also present were IPF president Datuk M. Sambanthan and Barisan secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Najib, who is the Barisan chairman, said he launched the Malaysian Indian Blueprint in April as he realised that the Indian community had specific needs and faced challenges which were unique to the community, such as the difficulty faced by former estate workers to transition into life in cities, towns and semi-urban areas.

Citing an example of the Govern­ment’s assistance, Najib said he recently asked for 700 more places to be given to Indian students at higher learning institutions.

This was in addition to the 1,500 spots reserved for the community to undergo matriculation courses, he added.

“This is because I realise that the participation of Indian students at higher learning institutions is still low. If we allow meritocracy to be implemented in full, then the ones who end up as victims will be the Indian community,” he added.

Najib said if the Government did not intervene, it was possible that the community’s participation in higher learning institutions would go down to between 3% and 4%.

On the IPF’s role, the Prime Minister said while the party remained a “Friend of Barisan Nasional” at the moment, he would work to convince the coalition’s component parties to extend closer cooperation to it.

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