One of my readers, klm, has written this comment yesterday:
I was going through a number of papers on Global Competitiveness. If one looked into the numbers, the potential of Malaysia is quite obvious.
In these studies, Malaysia is always slightly above average but never rises to the top 10. It looks like there is a permanent speed limiter holding the potential back. Hence, Dr Hsu’s question – what went wrong? Why is Malaysia consigned to be mediocre?
One way to look at it is to see the NEP and NDP as an in build speed limiter. NEP was designed to slow the progress to give the Malay community a chance to catch with the other communities.
NEP was not designed to use for long period. And it was designed to help those who needed help. Unfortunately, this was hijacked by the UMNO politicians and businessmen cronies for their own ends. The rest is history.
Unfortunately, Malaysia is now stuck with the permanent speed limiter……
Unfortunately, for the NEP shackle, many speedsters have to find other avenues. Hence the brain drain. Until and unless, the shackle is removed, this trend will continue.
Also, unfortunately for Malaysia, the world and it are on a superhighway. A vehicle with a speed limiter is not able to increase speed to catch up with others.
I think the analogy is very appropriate. Many top UMNO people know this. Many top civil servants know this, but they are just not bold enough to take the initiative to break this speed breaker.
The quota system as well as skewed implemention of the NEP has brought the country almost grinding to a halt.
Despite the boast by our leaders, the fact remains that we are in the middle rungs of all the countries in the world in term of GDP measured using Purchasing power parity. We are number 60 in the list of IMF. I suspect 40 years ago, we might have a better ranking, even though still among the middle rung countries. (refer wiki IMF list here).
Countries like Botswana ( a country in Africa), Libya, Trinida, Malta to name a few , are above us..
The quota system has acted as a speed limiter, and those inside the truck ‘Malaysian inc.’, regardless of ethnic originals, are all slowed down. Even those who were given handicap are slowed down.
Had we adopted a more liberal policy, the country ‘s per capita income would have gone up to within the top 30 at least, judging by our ‘contemporaries’ such as the tiny-dot-down-South, Taiwan, Hong KOng and so on.
Everyone irrespective of ethnic origin would have been richer, and the truck would have reached the destination of ‘developed nation’ much faster. And with a ‘developed’ infrastructure, everyone, again regardless of colour, would have benefited more.
Yesterday, our PM has finally taken the first step in doing away with the quota. He announced that public listed companies are now no longer bound by the 30% minimal bumi equity requirement.
There is still a requirement that among the 25% of the public spread if a company wants to be listed, half of it must be given to bumi. So for a company going for listing, it has to reserve 12.5 % for bumi shareholders, instead of the present 30%.
More importantly, after listing, companies do not have to be bound by this requirement anymore, and thus in effect, after listing, there is no more restriction on share ownership
I see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel now. Hopefully, this is the first of further liberalisation of the economy, as well as other fields such as education, human rights and public service.
For so long, the skewed NEP has acted not only as speed limiter, but also as a root cause of ethnic disunity and brain drain.
The original noble objectives of eradication of poverty regardless of ethnic origin has been hijacked and changed into a vehicle for manupulation, resulting in the present state of poor governance, mediocrity in all fields, and marginalisation of the real poor of all races.
It is true that the poor must be given help, but since in every group , there are poor and unfortunate people, any interventional assistance must be based on ‘needs’ and not colour.
So I welcome the announcement and hope that there would be more liberalisation towards a fair and equal society ,as well as more liberalisation towards a society based on respecting human rights.
My only reservation is this: Now that the speed limiter has been partially removed, and the truck is ostensibly allowed to move faster, will there be ‘obstacles’ and ‘detours’ put in place by those in charge of implementations (like what happened to the NEP)?
And will this partial removal of speed limiter be reversed if there are objections from the dominant party warloads? Will there be flip-flopping again as has happened so often in the past?