Malaysia is home to the third largest Tamil speaking population in the world. The total Indian ethnic community population is around 2.2 million of which Tamils make up over 80%. The country is home to a thriving Tamil community, which has produced many success stories. One of the world’s wealthiest people, billionaire Ananda Krishnan, is a Tamil Malaysian. Other notable Malaysian Tamil leaders include G. Gnanalingam, Tan Sri AK Nathan, Tan Sri Dr.Palan and Datuk AP Sivan.
The presence of Tamils in the Malay Peninsula could be traced back beyond the invasion of the land by the Chola Dynasty in the 11th century. During the period, Tamils were already established tradesmen, who managed to gain a strong foothold for Tamil culture and language in the region by capitalizing on trade relationships. However, the current identity of the Malaysian Tamils is predominantly linked to the exodus of Tamils to toil as labourers in Malaysian plantations during the British colonial era, by completely discounting the Tamil ancestral achievement and greatness.
A worrying concern for the community is the drifting away of the Malaysian Tamils from the benchmark of greatness set by the forefathers. Whilst at individual levels, members of the Tamil community are successful in making themselves visible in today’s competitive world; a large segment of the community continues to grapple with poverty and social problems on a daily basis.
During British Colonial rule a significant number of persons were brought to Malaysia from India and Sri Lanka to work in plantations. After Malaysia re-gained independence, this group and their descendants were entitled to acquire Malaysian citizenship under the Federal Constitution. However, a segment of the Malaysian Indian community is facing challenges related to identity documentation and confirmation of Malaysian citizenship for many years.
The widening gap between the successful members of the Tamil community and the underachievers is an issue which is not limited to Malaysia, but exist in every country which is home to a Tamil speaking population.
The Rise Malaysia aims to address some of these challenges head on and to inspire the current and future generation of Tamils to achieve success in a community-minded manner. The summit is taking place in Kuala Lumpur from May 3-5, 2019.
TamilCulture.com spoke to the Chairman of The Rise Malaysia, Saravanan M. Sinapan, to learn more about the Rise Malaysia.
TamilCulture (TC): What is the Rise summit?
Saravanan M. Sinapan (SS):
The Rise Madurai
In December 2018, when the world was preparing to wrap up yet another year, under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Jegath Gasper Raj, a new chapter began in the history of the global Tamil-speaking community with the inauguration of The Rise, a global summit of Tamil entrepreneurs and professionals, in Madurai, India. The three-day summit, which brought together 500 Tamil entrepreneurs and professionals from 17 countries, was an unprecedented event of such magnitude to focus on the economic empowerment and the overall development of the Tamil-speaking community.
The Rise Global Summit for Tamil Entrepreneurs and Professionals, Madurai, India, held from 28 to 30th December was one of the very first initiatives to bring together some of the inspiring Tamil entrepreneurial icons, strategic thinkers and public intellectuals from around the world to meet and join some of the dots for a beginning to what we would like to call as The Tamil re-emergence era. The conference was a success with large participation from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Gulf-Middle East, UK-Europe, West Africa, Canada and USA.
Guided by the theme “To shift the culture of seeking jobs to creating jobs,” The Rise Madurai opened up opportunities for collaboration and networking among Tamil entrepreneurs and professionals and paved the path for future initiatives targeted at the advancement of the Tamils.
The Rise Malaysia
Inspired by the success in Madurai, and with the mission to continue the noble goal of the initiative, Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (DHRRA), the co-organiser of The Rise Madurai, seeks to launch a new wave of The Rise in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Rise Malaysia will continue the momentum of The Rise Madurai to facilitate exchange of ideas amongst the members of our Tamil community. The movement will resonate with the aspiration of the global Rise movement to revive the spirit of entrepreneurship deep rooted within the Tamils.
The replication of a similar event in Malaysia is crucial especially in steering the Tamil community in Malaysia, particularly the youth, towards economic and social advancement.
The Rise Malaysia is hosted by DHRRA Malaysia. For over a decade, DHRRA Malaysia has been committed to community development efforts especially of those in vulnerable condition. The Rise Malaysia constitutes DHRRA Malaysia’s continuous commitment towards advancement of the Tamil community.
TC: What are your objectives with this event?
SS: Guided by the theme “Empower, Connect and Grow”, the 3-day global summit aims to realize the following objectives:
To EMPOWER Tamil-speaking entrepreneurs and professionals with the required skills, knowledge and expertise to emerge as the leader in their respective field
To CONNECT worldwide Tamil-speaking entrepreneurs and professionals through the establishment of a global business referral network
To reflect on the future direction of the movement to foster the GROWTH of the global Tamil-speaking community
TC: Does the summit only take place in Malaysia or are there other locations?
SS: The 1st summit took place in Madurai in December 2018. The Rise Malaysia is an extension of The Rise Madurai. The Rise Malaysia is hoped become an annual event to connect and empower Tamils as a community. Other country members may take this up to host The Rise in their home countries – for only then the local opportunities can be further explored.
TC: Can you highlight some success stories that have come out of past events?
SS: The Rise Madurai was a success where we saw participation by members of the Tamil community from 17 countries. As a progress, The Rise Malaysia will bring together representatives from 22 countries. During Rise Madurai, 40% of the delegates experienced direct benefit through instant business contacts and the rest indirectly benefitted.
TC: What can attendees expect from this year's event?
SS: Malaysia is a gateway into Asia Pacific and venturing into Malaysia provides a pathway to other developing countries in the region to tap into new opportunities.
- The summit will offer numerous international franchise opportunities
- It aims to establish an Asia Pacific Tamil Angel Network - to encourage and support start-ups.
- The Rise Global Virtual Office - a virtual network
- Launch of The Rise Mobile app - for delegates to connect; access to delegate directory.
- More than 50 international speakers from varied backgrounds
- Rather than sharing what has been done before, The Summit will identify gaps and needs– creating a marketplace of opportunities
- Participation and support from Government agencies and political parties
TC: Why is it important to create networking opportunities for the Tamil community?
SS: There is a common saying that when an individual man develops, then the whole community will develop. However this has created gaps. This has to be reversed – when the community develops…every individual in the community will also develop. Therefore, The Rise is an attempt to bridge the gap, especially between successful individuals and aspiring talent. Tamils have done great things individually but it is important to foster collective achievement. Therefore, networking is an important stepping stone.
TC: How are you ensuring that young Tamils and women are represented (there's usually a low participation at events like these)?
SS: The speakers at the summit are fairly represented both by gender and age. We are encouraging young people and women to participate in the event; we have released promotional videos featuring young people and women to attract their interest.The summit has invited speakers to provide inputs and opportunities in current field of interest for those groups such as Agrotechnology, Block Chain, IR 4.0 etc.
TC: What is your future vision for The Rise Summit?
SS: The Rise should become a household name where the Tamil Community is identified as business community - a community of value that is supportive of one another.