Monday, December 24, 2007


I write in response to “Numbers tell success story of Indians?” (NST,Dec 10) and no “No truth Indians are the poorest in the country?” (NST,Dec 12).

When studies are presented to the public, they must stand up to scrutiny.

I am not a politician, a mathematician or even a statistician. Maybe other Malaysians are more enlightened and I may be wrong but to me the figures quoted do not tally as the statistical methodology seems to be flawed.

The slant of a study can be used to justify any claim. As a simple example, I can say that one out of 10 Malaysians are killed by an elephant.

All I have to do is to find that one unfortunate Malaysian and I have justified my claim.

The population of Malaysia is about 28 million. We are comparing three populations with a vast difference in numbers-Bumiputera 64 per cent (17,920,000), Chinese 24 per cent (6,720,000), and Indians eight per cent (2,240,000).

By convention, all Malays are Bumiputera but not all Bumiputeras are Malays.

In the Malaysian context, the term Bumiputer embraces ethnics Malays plus other indigenous ethnic groups such as the Orang Asli and tribal people in Sabah and Sarawak.

We all know that the indigenous groups have the lowest income and highest rate of unemployment, and this naturally skews the mean household income to the negative.

To make the mean household income of the three main races more relevant, then, the Malays should not be lumped together with the indigenous groups.

Furthermore, the larger the population and with varying reproductive rates, the more the number of unemployable people, - children, students and housewives.

Naturally, then, on paper, wealth distributed among 17 million will be less than wealth divided among two million.

As far as income and population is concerned, should we be using the mean or median values?
The mean is calculated by adding together all the studied values and then divided by the number of values. The data is value only if it is symmetrically distributed but it can be thrown out by a few extreme values.

Ananda Krishnan of Maxis is the third wealthiest man in southeast Asia with a fortune estimated to be worth RM30 billion and other Indian multi-millionaires do not represent the majority of the Indians population.

If they are part of the data, then the study is already skewed.

The median is the middle value – 50 per cent of values is above it and 50 per cent below it. So in an unsymmetrical data, as above, this form of average gives a better ideas of any general tendency.

Different races also have a tendency to gravitate towards different professions which pay different incomes.

If we want to continue using a mean household income as a yardstick of prosperity for the three main races, then we must compare the total income accrued in the selected professions divided by the same number of households.

At the end of the day, we are distracted by superficialities. Poverty is no respecter of race, religion or locality (i.e urban or rural) and all those suffering need the government’s help.

F.S MALHI, Ipoh.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s success story of Indians (“Numbers tell success story of Indians”-NST, Dec 10) in Malaysia came as a surprise to most of us, particularly the figures he quoted.
It looks too good to be true.

He pointed out that the average monthly household income of Indian families was now RM3,456 compared with the national average of RM3,022.

I wonder where he came up with such generous figures.

He claimed that in the country’s history, 60 per cent of Indians lived and worked in the estates but now the figure is reversed to 80 per cent concentrated in urban areas.

A recent visit to Penang has convinced me that there are still a good number of Indians poor and homeless in George Town.

Come sunset, they suddenly appear from nowhere and take on the role of jaga kereta (touts) to earn extra income. Fearing that my car might be scratched, I was forced to part with a ringgit.

At night, you can see the homeless sleeping along the five-foot path in front of shophouses which have been closed for the night.

Now the question is whether Samy Vellu can include this poor souls who have take to eke a living in this manner with just the roof of the shophouse over their heads as being Indians who are nowadays concentrated in urban centres?

Let us no pretend life is not easy to them. With few skills and high rate of unemployment (after being dislodged from life in the rubber estates), being urbanised can be quite meaningless for them.

Sad to say the majority of Indians are among the poorest in the country with, of course, a few exceptions where a small fraction comes from the wealthy group.



Petaling Jaya: Chinese schools in the country have been getting a helping hand from Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB).

Since 1994 to the middle of this year, the company has raised close to RM180 million which benefited 367 Chinese schools and helped 1,300 students through university.

“We see Chinese schools as providing mainstream education, especially since only two per cent Chinese students are enrolled in national schools. And we know the importance the Chinese community places on education,” said GAB finance director Low Teng Lum.

Low said the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes not only benefited the Chinese community but also over 60,000 non Chinese students who were enrolled in these schools.

So far, GAB had helped to provide better school facilities, including school halls, additional classrooms and computers.

More importantly, it has also helped students obtain a university education, said Low.

Low said the CSR programmes went beyond merely donating money.

“Anyone with money can donate. But to us, it is a means to allow the community, especially the grassroots, to empower themselves, and at the same time, enable our dealers, trade partners and even coffee shop owners to come together for a good cause,” he said.

GAB has two main fundraising projects known as the Tiger Sin Chew Chinese Education Charity Concert and the Guinness Torch Fund.

The charity concert is a yearly event where GAB helps to fund and organise the concert by bringing in local and foreign artistes to perform.

Schools in need of funds can apply to be part of the charity concert and if selected, they will be tasked marketing the concert and selling tickets. The funds are then channelled to respective schools.

The Guinness Torch Fund, meanwhile, is a scholarship fund.

Friday, December 21, 2007.