Around 13,000 people flocked the Putrajaya International Convention Centre yesterday in a large scale celebration for the 150th anniversary of Telugu Heritage in Malaysia.
The event was graced by many luminaries from Andhra Pradesh which includes politicians and members of the ‘Tollywood’ film fraternity, with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak serving as the chief guest.
Organized by the Malaysian Telugu Association (TAM), the 12-hour event drew audiences from all over the peninsula, as the local Telugu community attempted to channel their needs and aspirations to the leaders in attendance.
In his keynote address, Najib pledged that the government would provide adequate support for the Telugu community.
“I have set up a special committee that specially oversees the problems that are plaguing Malaysian Indians,” he said.
He also added that if he makes a promise, he will ‘keep his words’.
Najib also stressed that the next 10 years would be crucial for the country.
“At a growth rate of 6 per cent every year, we will achieve the status of a fully developed nation in 10 years,” he said.
Najib, who is the first ever Malaysian premier to grace a Telugu community event, reiterated that his 1 Malaysia concept is a ‘guiding philosophy’ and not a ‘slogan’.
The attendance was so overwhelming that the organizers ran out of tags for the show. The PICC main hall, which can only fit 4,500 people, was housing an excess of 9,000 people by the time Najib gave his speech.
The remaining attendees had gathered at a second hall where a live coverage was played to them.
Upon arrival, Najib had to first pay a visit to those in the second hall before entering the main hall.
“This is the first time in my 35 years as a politician I had to enter a second hall before coming into the main hall,” he added.
TAM supremos used the opportunity to share the needs and desires of the Telugu community who attended the program.
Chief advisor and Masterskill Group CEO Edmund Santhara Ramanaidu called for more ‘recognition’ and ‘opportunities’ to be given to Telugus.
He had also stressed that before seeking external help, high income earners among the Telugu community should first contribute back to their own society.
TAM president Achaiah Kumar Rao meanwhile clarified that TAM does not have vested political interests and only channel their needs through political parties that serve Indians’ well being.
“We have asked for a lot before but we always receive way less than what we ask. It is not enough for our social needs,” he said.
Najib had also elaborated that he will invite Kumar Rao to his office to further discuss the needs of the Telugu society.
This event marks 150 years since the arrival of Telugus in Malaysia, where they were mainly employed in rubber estates.
“When our economy relied on rubber, you are the ones who provided the latex,” Najib added.
MIC president Samy Vellu, PPP president M. Kayveas, and Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is affectionately called ‘Bapa Telugu’ due to his vast contribution to the Telugu society, were the others in attendance.
There were also ministers from Andhra Pradesh, the High Comissioner Of India to Malaysia, along with delegates from Mauritius, United States, and Singapore.
A muhurat (film launch) for a new Telugu movie took place where the inauguration of the film was followed by a small scene being shot on the stage at PICC.
Prominent Indian actors Poorna and Naresh made a special appearance and acted out the scene live in front of the audience.
Actors Balakrishna and Sai Kumar along with singer P. Suseela also made respective appearances.