Malay elite speaks out against NEP

Reuters reported that  a Malay university professor, a Columbia UNiversity graduate, spoke out against the continuation of the NEP.

Another Malay elite and brother of our Deputy Prime Minister, Nasir ABdul Razak who is also the CEO of CIMB, has also called for a thorough review of the NEP just a few days ago.

This shows that more and more of the Malay elite  realise that the continuation of the policy in the present form will have a dire effect on our economy and our country.

The continuation of this policy, in the present form, will make our country lose its competitiveness in this era of globalisation where efficiency as well as every penny is figured in the cost of production of goods and services. Our economy will be marginalised if we continue with the policy. We need to convince more of our Malay brothers, especially the educated,  that the country must adopt a far sighted economic policy so that the economic cake can keep on expanding and so that everyone will have a much bigger share a decade from now.

I will post the article from Reuters here or you can read it from the link: 

FEATURE – Malaysia’s pro-Malay affirmative action stokes tension

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – University professor Azly Rahman has benefited from Malaysia’s affirmative action policy which favours ethnic Malays in education, jobs and business.

But he thinks it’s time the government abandoned the policy as he says few people have profited from such policies in the past decade and many Malays have been alienated by them.

“The policy is no longer serving the needs of a changing Malaysia,” said the 45-year-old son of a taxi driver, who attended a school for bright, poor
Malays on a government scholarship.

“The race-based paradigm of looking at restructuring society and alleviating
poverty must be radically revised,” said Azly, a Columbia University graduate who teaches history and world religions in the United States.

More than 30 years after it was launched, Malaysia’s National Development Policy to promote Malays risks becoming a flashpoint that splits the politically dominant Malays, unsettles racial peace and weakens the economy.

Discontent is growing as years of affirmative action have left a trail of failed Malay tycoons and struggling Malay-managed conglomerates.

At the same time, Malays — the policy’s target group — continue to constitute the poorest racial group in Malaysia.

The economic costs are mounting: foreign investment is falling as investors baulk at rules that keep strategic assets either in Malay or government hands.

Malaysia has also lost some of its best and brightest as non-Malays kept out of universities by racial quotas move to Singapore and other countries.

The state spent more than $3.1 billion in the past five years to rescue cash-strapped firms such as Malaysian Airlines, many of which were
privatised to Malay businessmen.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Pressure is growing for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party to address the future of the race-based policy. But it will have to juggle Malay interests while keeping minority races happy.

“It’s a thick minefield for UMNO to manoeuvre its way through,” said political expert Ooi Kee Beng, of Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian
Studies.

Malaysian affirmative action began after bloody riots between affluent Chinese and impoverished Malays in 1969 killed hundreds.

Malays make up more than half of Malaysia’s population of 26 million and are overwhelmingly Muslim, yet they own just 19 percent of the economy, well behind minority ethnic Chinese. The government wants Malays to own 30
percent of the economy by 2020.

The Chinese, whose ancestors came centuries ago as traders or mine workers shipped in by colonial rulers, make up 25 percent of the population, but
hold about 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

In the past, affirmative action created a Malay middle-class and made millionaires out of Malay fishermen’s sons.

But many Malays say that over the last few years, the policy has strayed from its original aim of fostering competition among the race and mainly enriched only a small elite, while many rural Malays still live hand to mouth in wooden huts.

Malays, also known as bumiputras (sons of the soil) gripe that well-connected businessmen — rather than deserving candidates — have been
handed billions of dollars in state contracts.

“Bumiputra millionaires are not self-made,” said Azly. “Many are proxies or “front-men and women” of the ruling party.”

Historian Khoo Kay Kim said “the implementation (of the policy) falls short
of the intention” as politicians practise political expediency to gain support.

“This policy is not just a policy intended to address major imbalances but it is also a political policy,” Khoo said.

FRAGILE RACIAL TIES

Complaints by ethnic Chinese and Indians of being marginalised have become more strident as the economic pie has shrunk, with Malaysia’s average growth having almost halved to around five percent from the rate seen in the 1990s.

This comes at a time of delicate race relations in Malaysia.

A tussle last month between state religious authorities and the non-Muslim family of a dead Muslim convert over his burial — the second such incident in about a year — has fuelled fears that the rights of minorities are slowly being eroded.

Going forward, Malaysia may have to forsake affirmative action or risk having its economy lag behind.

“Our competitors are forging ahead and we cannot afford policies that introduce distortions and inefficiencies on such a massive, and socially
unjustifiable, scale,” said Lim Teck Ghee, a former World Bank senior social scientist.

But few think Malaysia will abandon the policy just yet. Instead, affirmative action will likely return to its old aim of creating a Malay
industrial community based on competition.

“The implementation of the policy now has to take into account all the mistakes of the past,” said Shahrir Samad, an UMNO leader.

“It will have to avoid the concept of making individuals rich. They have to accept the fact that there’s no free lunch.”

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