To start with, I would like to congratulate TS Anuar Musa, the Member of Parliment for Ketereh, Kelantan, for being re-appointed as the Chairman of Majlis Amanah Rakyat(MARA).
MARA is perhaps the Government agency which is closest to the heart and mind of the Malays. Most Malay households are expected to have certain ‘dealings’ with MARA in a way or another. MARA has benefited hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Malays.
MARA is a new name for Rural Industrial Development Authority(RIDA). RIDA was set up by the Government of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, then under the British rule in early 1950s to provide entrepreneurial development training and financial assistance, specifically to the Malays who were mainly rural-based.
After the independence of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the name of RIDA was changed to Majlis Amanah Rakyat(MARA). ‘Rakyat’ is the Bahasa Malaysia term for ‘citizens’. So, the phrase ‘Majlis Amanah Rakyat’ can be translated into English as ‘Citizens Trust Council’. For a multi-racial country like Malaysia,’citizens’ can mean citizens of all races and ethnic groupings in Malaysia.
Old RIDA was set up at a time when the British were persuading the Malay leaders, in particular UMNO, to agree to offer citizenship to over a million immigrants(then) from China and India who immigrated to the ‘Lands of the Malays’ Tanah Melayu during the British ‘protectorate’ rule, in search of peaceful existence and jobs opportunities. There was general fear among the Malays that they would be overwhelmed economically by the would be new citizens…worse still, politically. To alley such fears, the British set up RIDA, to assist the Malays to become entrepreneurs too.
Since then, and the time of name change to MARA after the country’s independence, MARA had progressed leaps and bounds…until it has become one of THE MOST IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS acting as ‘umbrella’ for the Malays.
For what MARA has achieved and become, MARA can easily be transformed into a ministry, the MINISTRY OF MALAYS ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT.