MTEM: Abolish NEP at your own peril, Anwar

MTEM: Abolish NEP at your own peril, Anwar

PUCHONG: The Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) warned PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today not to replace the New Economic Policy (NEP) with a needs-based policy.

In a statement, MTEM chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman said that anyone who wishes to become prime minister of Malaysia requires the support of the bumiputra community.

“Affirmative action in Malaysia needs a racial dimension to prevent racial inequalities from being swept under the carpet.

“Malaysians have tolerated a racially divisive school system long enough and we continue to do so. So, for us to be colour blind when it comes to economic policy is bizarre.

“And the support of the bumiputera is important to any prime minister of Malaysia,” he said.

Last week, Anwar announced that he will accelerate the transition from race-based affirmative action economic policy to needs-based policy when he becomes the prime minister.

“This is the position of Pakatan Harapan. This is the position of the prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“What I need to do is to accelerate the process… I am equally, if not more committed in terms of reducing inequality and elevating the position of the poor,” Anwar was reported saying.

The former deputy prime minister added that the NEP, conceived in the 1970s, is now obsolete.

Dismissing Anwar’s argument, Yazid urged the Port Dickson MP and fellow Malaysians to understand history before making snap judgements against the NEP.

Yazid reiterated that the bumiputera community are still lagging behind in terms of economic development compared to other communities.

He also cautioned Anwar that if the latter does not address this concern, the backlash from the bumiputera community would swift and severe.

Citing statistics, the MTEM leader claimed that the capita income in 2014 for bumiputera was only at RM16,066 a year, while the non-bumiputera community enjoyed RM74,067 per year.

He also claimed that the bumiputera community only owns 26.1% of housing assets in Malaysia while the non-bumiputera own 63.3%, although the bumiputera population is three times larger.

Yazid also defended the bumiputera discounts for property developments.

“It is easy to judge the discount of five to 15% for bumiputera buyers of property to be an unacceptable form of racial discrimination, but this shows that those making this judgement are ignorant of the original intent of this policy, which was not to provide free and unearned lunch for bumiputera.

“The rationale for a bumiputera discount is to compensate its buyers. A property bought under the bumiputera quota will not be worth as much as a non-bumiputera quota property in the same area.

“As such a property can be sold without constraint to bumiputera as well as non-bumiputera,” he said.

Although admitting that NEP has it flaws, Yazid argued that it would be unwise to make any new affirmative action policy without a racial dimension attached to it.

“Race blind affirmative action may be alright to improve the wellbeing of those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

“But such an approach will be less effective to narrow the economic gap at the top between ethnicities,” he said.

Yazid maintained that communities who are already well-leveraged due to historical circumstances are likely to remain or become even better leveraged in the future.

“This permanent concentration of wealth among the same group of people is not healthy and is especially toxic in Malaysia, as the well-leveraged in Malaysia tend to come from a particular ethnic group or from politically connected bumiputera and Indians,” he claimed.

MTEM is an umbrella organisation representing over 50 Malay economic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the national level.

It represents about 500,000 Malay businesses in Malaysia.

By G Vinod