Kuala Lumpur, Jan 3 Malaysian Indian leader S. Samy Vellu will begin his new assignment this week as his country's special envoy to South Asia by seeking more business ties in the infrastructure sector.
He will be in New Delhi on Thursday leading a 150-member Malaysian Indian delegation to the ninth Bharatiya Pravasi Divas (PBD), the annual conference of the Indian diaspora from across the world.
His office announced on Monday that he is to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he had met during the latter's Malaysia visit last October, besides other Indian leaders to explore opportunities for Malaysian entrepreneurs.
He will hold talks with high-ranking Indian government officials on the sidelines of the Jan 7-9 PBD to prepare the ground for more opportunities for Malaysian businessmen to venture into India, the statement said.
His new assignment will also take him to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, Malaysia's official news agency, Bernama, reported.
Samy Vellu stepped down as president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the country's largest party of ethnic Indians, after serving as its chief for 31 years. The 74-year-old politician was appointed in December 2010 as special envoy to India and South Asia by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
The MIC is a constituent of the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition and Samy Vellu had been works minister for long before losing a parliamentary election in March 2008.
Vellu is expected to follow up what the Malaysian prime minister discussed during his India visit in January last year and later, when Manmohan Singh visited Malaysia.
Vellu said that in the past 10 years, Malaysian businessmen had played a significant role in infrastructure development in India, completing projects worth about $20 billion but that the figure had dwindled of late.
Manmohan Singh had said during his visit here that India, which plans to raise its investment target in infrastructure projects to $1 trillion, welcomed greater Malaysian participation given Malaysia's strength in the sector.
In its 11th five-year plan which ends in 2011, India has targeted investment in infrastructure of $500 billion and hopes to increase this to $1 trillion in the 12th plan, Manmohan Singh was quoted as saying by The Star.