In a major sop to minority ethnic Indians demanding more rights, Malaysian government has doubled the quota for the community in the country's civil service from 3.5 per cent to seven per cent.
The decision was taken by Premier Abdullah Badawi yesterday, Human Resources Minister DS Subramaniam said.
The announcement came against the backdrop of demands for equal treatment by ethnic Indians, spearheaded by the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) which has been banned by the government.
Subramaniam said that Abdullah had also given an assurance that applications for the civil service would be approved based on job descriptions and merit.
Earlier in a statement, he urged the Public Services Commission (PSC) to ensure a minimum intake of at least seven per cent of ethnic Indians in all job categories in the public service.
Currently the country's civil services are dominated by Malays, who form the majority of Malaysia's 27 million population.
Meanwhile, ethnic Indian elected representatives of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance held talks with India-based NGOs and local councillors yesterday to ascertain if the minority community's circumstances had improved after the March 8 general election in Malaysia and the November 25 rally by the Hindraf complaining of racial inequality.
Ethnic Indians, a majority of them Tamils, form eight percent of Malaysia's population.
Among topics discussed were the intake of Indians into the civil service and promotions possibilities, Tamil school issues, single mothers, stateless Indians and business opportunities for Indians.
While it was felt the community had seen changes, the group sought larger and more transparent changes.