So, the PM's approval ratings have soared. Many of us could sense that but it helps when an independent party like the Merdeka Centre is the one saying it. Read PM's Approval Ratings Go up. What I find interesting is the Indian support that Najib Razak seems to have garnered: 80 per cent of the Indian respondents are solidly behind him! Back in the 2008 general elections, the Indian voters almost completely turned against the BN government and voted for Pakatan Rakyat. Four years on and after many broken promises, they seem to be wiser.
Najib's track record where the ordinary Indians are concerned speaks for itself:
o From 2009 to 2011 the Government has spent RM340 million for SJKTs which comprises of RM240,536,325 in development expenditures, RM30,000,000 through the Ministry of Finance and RM69,900,000 through Bantuan Modal via the Ministry of Education.
o This RM340 million has been spent and executed on a total of 258 projects that includes new buildings, kindergartens, repairing roofs, upgrading canteens, library, toilets, wiring etc. In terms of new school blocks and new classrooms, a total of 75 new blocks with 680 classrooms were built from these allocations.
o The operational expenditures for SJKTs between 2009 and 2011 amounts to RM1,656,250,014.
o In the recent 2012 budget, RM100 million was allocated to SJKTs. This special allocation will be spent in a total of 369 schools.
o Above and beyond this, the Government has also facilitated funding through the Community Chest where 6 schools received a total of RM5 million in 2011. They are SJKT RRI Sungai Buloh, SJKT Kuala Pilah, SJKT Slim River, SJKT Batu Caves, SJKT Telok Datoh and SJKT Methodist, Buntong.
o In continuing his efforts to develop Tamil schools, PM Najib recently announced on 26 February 2012, that the Government will ensure that 1 new block will be constructed for SJKT Methodist Kapar and 3 new blocks with 24 class rooms for SJKT Simpang Lima. The cost of this is estimated to be approximately RM9 million.
o In terms of the numbers of Tamil schools, and in addition to increasing the number from 523 to 524 after Paya Besar in Kedah got a new Tamil school, the Cabinet approved 6 new Tamil schools in Perak, Selangor, Johor and Kedah, bringing the total number up to 530.
o In addition to all of this, the Government has channeled funding to Indian community NGOs to work with SJKTs and parents to improve the capabilities of children attending these schools.
The 2011 UPSR results is clearly an indication that with these improved Tamil school environments, building and infrastructure, and the full commitment of dedicated teachers and parents, the ultimate beneficiaries are the children going to school at SJKTs. Between 2009 and 2011, there has been 47% increase in the number of Tamil school students achieving 7As.
Now, with solid Indian "Nambikei:" (trust) and 74 per cent Malay support in hand, Najib's concern now are the Chinese voters. In Johor, where the PM's spend the last two days pounding the pavements that will lead him to PRU13, the signs are encouraging. One China man told me: "They say the Chinese are all pro-Opposition. Don't make the mistake of painting Chinese voters with the same brush. We Johor Chinese are different."
How different, he can't say exactly. But development proejcts in Iskandar, Danga Bay, Rapid, the fast train, joint-development with Singapore, and the latest RM22 billion Mersing push are pulling a lot of support for both state government and Putrajaya. Even the Chinese from mainland China and the Chinese from Singapore are involved in these projects! Needless to say, the economic excitement has also caught the attention of the Pakatan Rakyat people who are going all out to try and gain as much ground in Johor during the next general election.