A recent move to close the Indian Studies Department at Universiti Malaya (UM) is being resisted by Malaysians of Indian origin. Closing the department is "disrespectful to the heritage of the Indian community", two NGOs of ethnic Indians have said.
The Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA) and the Education, Welfare and Research Foundation (EWRF) want UM "to strengthen the department or leave it alone", New Straits Times said Monday.
P. Sivakumar, MIBA president, said replacing the department with the East Asian Studies Department would be "a great disservice to the good work so far."
"The department's research and resource materials are vital for enhancing the community's socioeconomic and cultural development."
"The Indian Studies Department in UM is not only a centre for research but over the years has become a historical foundation and a heritage of the Malaysian Indian community."
EWRF chairman S. Pasupathi said as a responsible and progressive educational centre, UM needed to strengthen the Indian Studies Department instead of dissolving it.
"What is the role of Indians in the country going to be in the future if the single research facility available for it is abolished by a premier university?"
Malaysia has a two million-plus population of ethnic Indians, a bulk of who are Tamils who settled here during the British era. They form roughly eight percent of the nation's 280 million people.