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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, September 17, 2001: Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the chief of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), says he was worried about the declining Indian population as it could directly reduce the political voice of the community. He said the community's population of 10.3 per cent of all Malaysians has now been cut to 9.4 per cent of the 23 million people. While acknowledging the socio-economic reasons for small families, he said fewer Indians meant lower political bargaining power for them. Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said that while it advocates bigger families, the MIC also wants Indian families to equip their children with better education. His concerns reflected those of Chinese community leaders who are just as worried about declining birth rates in their community. The Chinese today form 24.6 per cent of the population, compared to 37 per cent prior to the country's independence in 1957. The MIC is the biggest Indian political group, with seven representatives in the 193-strong parliament within the ruling, 13-party Barisan Nasional coalition.