Friday, January 2, 2009

What is the consequence if we cannot question the Malay preferential treatment?

Bobby my old friend emailed this must read article.

I refer to the presentation of a memorandum to protect Malay rights to the secretariat of the Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri on 29th Dec 08 by members of the Yayasan Aminul Ummah Malaysia. During the presentation, YAUM President Md. Radzi Daud was reported to have said that no one should question Malay preferential rights and privileges which had been entrenched in the Constitution.

Obviously certain groups have not yet taken to heart the results of the recent elections in Penang and in many other parts of the country in which at least half of the country’s electorate – including many Malays – rejected UMNO’s approach to the issue of NEP and other aspects of so called Malay entitlement and preferential treatment.

Why we cannot become a developed nation?
Only a few weeks ago, Dr Mahathir openly said that Malaysia will not be able to become a developed nation by 2020. All Malaysians must not be afraid to question why we cannot achieve this. Is the Malay preferential treatment the biggest obstacle?

The basic characteristics of a developed nation are economic well being, social cohesion, cultural freedom and political democracy.

An ethnic approach to wealth accumulation and distribution in Malaysia has underpinned national policymaking and implementation for over 38 years since the introduction of the NEP in 1970. In no other country in the world is there to be found a similar preoccupation with ethnic preference as seen in the longevity and wide array of NEP policies.

Many experts and laymen are of the opinion that continuation of the NEP – which currently affects virtually all aspects of the economy and human resource development – represents Malaysia’s biggest obstacle to competitiveness, social cohesion and meeting the goal of becoming a developed country.

But what are the true facts of NEP achievement or under-achievement?

Bumiputera achievement
Basing on conventional accounting principles, the Malays have already achieved the 30% target of Bumiputra equity ownership. Bumiputra presence in all the major modern sectors of the economy including banking, plantations, aerospace, defence, oil and gas, energy and utilities have not only grown tremendously but is also well entrenched. A strong Malay professional and business class had been built up during the past 30 years at an unprecedented speed – probably the fastest ever experienced by any marginalized community anywhere in the world - and this group no longer needs special crutches. Policy emphasis should now be placed on nurturing competitiveness and excellence for all groups in the country, especially the SMEs, to enable the country to meet global challenges.

Broad base of Malay professionals
In fact, after over 30 years of NEP implementation, many Malays have already graduated and are more than capable of standing on their own merit without the safety net. Where are the large numbers of successful Malays to be found, some sceptics of YAUM may ask? The easiest way to answer this is for the government to make available the statistics on Bumiputera employment in the Higher Occupational Categories and in the Professions. Such a table showing Bumiputera achievement was included in the Third Outline Perspective Plan document, 2001-2010. That table showed that Bumiputras had already comprised 63.5% of the population for the Professional and Technical Category of employment by the year 2000.

Malays should be satisfied with their achievement and be willing to dismantle the NEP.
The truth of the matter is that the NEP has been successful and the Malays uplifted. If this vital information were made publicly available, there will be less talk about Malay under-achievement and less insecurity within the Malay community that they are losing out to the other races. In fact they should be justly proud that they are most probably the majority ethnic community in many highly paid and prestigious occupations.

That this information is not disseminated is due to the lack of transparency of the official statistics provided to the public. Malaysia is badly lagging behind many countries in ensuring that its statistical system is accessible and transparent.

Let us remember too that Umno, the main beneficiary of NEP, does not lead but dominates.The party holds 22 of 31 Cabinet positions.

If the NEP is such an impediment to progress, why has it not been dismantled? The most obvious reason is that it is in the interests of the dominant elites that this policy be continued perpetually in its present form. The ruling party has enormous resources and tremendous capacity to co-opt or coerce dissenting elements that question the NEP into staying passive or compliant within the fold of the system.

Despite the official coercion backed by the notorious Sedition Act and ISA, many Malaysians have become increasingly restive, disenchanted and demoralized. Ethnic tensions are rising, deliberately stoked by those who want to keep their grip on power. To heal the division in the nation, the NEP, one of the mains causes of widespread disaffection among Malaysians who voted in unprecedented numbers against the Barisan Nasional, has to be dismantled.

Current economic scenario
Various international and national socio-economic indicators show that Malaysia’s economic future is getting more difficult and stormy. These indicators include recent global competitiveness, inward FDI performance, stock market capitalization, government inefficiency, business inefficiency, government intervention in the economy and corruption level. Other subjective indicators such as the sense of material well-being and security, socio-political stability, civic freedoms, religious tolerance, etc. also reveal a worrying situation.

The most important indicator is our GDP per capita. In 1970 when the NEP was first introduced, our GDP per capita was about the same as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. After 38 years, Singapore is 3 times, Taiwan is 2.5 times and South Korea is 2 times our GDP per capita. All Malaysians must have the right to question this poor performance of our nation and the policies such as the NEP that have been responsible for it.

All our political leaders must find out why and how these neighbouring countries can out perform us despite their lack of oil, gas and other natural resources.

The best way forward
All our political leaders, in both the ruling parties and the oppositions, should play less politics and concentrate on improving our national economy. They must not be afraid to discuss sensitive issues, like the Malay preferential rights to make radical changes. Only a new road map based on more equitable, enlightened and inclusive principles can bring out the best amongst all communities. Only a new social-economic order based on national unity, equity, justice and growth- one in which marginalized and vulnerable Malays and non Malays are provided equitable assistance, combined with a system of meritocracy that rewards the best, irrespective of race- can guarantee the future for Malaysia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come on lah Kula.The Indian caste system existed for such a long time in India.The poor got make any complains or not?No complain kan?In fact they just accept that they were born like that.No riot or whatsoever.I read somewhere that when the Govt in India want to give quota to enter uni to lower caste people, the upper caste tak nak bagi.Basically the lower caste people in India are despised just because they were born in lower caste family.In Malaysia, we never despise the Indians.Never see them as rubbish, untouchables, animals etc.We Melayu respect Indians because they can speak various languages very well despite their caste system.Quite ironic isn't it although caste system is alive in India, the country is growing fast.So what's wrong with the Malay preferential treatment?