Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UMNO plays racial card again

UMNO vice president, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam criticized former Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng's statement that the need for the New Economic Plan (NEP) no longer exists. [Malaysiakini, 30/9/08]

On September 28, Chua who is challenging for MCA's presidential post in the party polls next month, called for the Barisan Nasional government to reconsider the relevance of the NEP with the present needs of the country.

"After 38 years of its (the NEP) implementation, the Malay middle class is now large and secure. The need for the NEP therefore no longer exists, and the Constitutional rights of all Malaysians should be restored," he said during his manifesto launch. [Bernama, 28/9/08]
However, he also affirmed that only the aspects of poverty eradication of the NEP should continue to remain in order to effectively tackle future economic challenges.

The NEP has been a controversy onto its self; being accused of reducing the non-Malays to second class citizens through the ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) ideology in the implementation of the policy . The NEP was first introduced in 1971 by then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak and was set to target 30% Bumiputra equity of the country's economic pie. After nearly 38 years of its induction into Malaysia's socio-economic structure, official government statistics revealed that the NEP did not meet its objective after all. As a result, the failure of the policy was not only a subject of debate for the non-Malay communities but also for the general Malay populi. The NEP itself was seen as an excuse for certain individuals to enrich their cronies; providing avenues for day-light nepotism in government projects.

However, Chua's statements against the NEP came under fire from UMNO vice president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam. He said that Chua was merely taking cheap shots in wooing more support in his bid for party presidency. According to Mohd Ali, Chua's statement was an "old tactic" of gathering support by criticizing the Malays.

"The objectives of the NEP was clear which is to eradicate poverty. All races have indeed benefited from the policy. Chua must find a better way to gain support; not by criticizing government policies that are alleged to only benefit the Malays," he said. [Bernama, 29/9/08]
Mohd Ali also said that during Chua's tenure as Health Minister, he did not succeed in solving the shortage of medical workers and specialists in Malaysia.

Now consider the following:
  1. How does commenting on the NEP which was alleged to have benefited all races, be a form of criticism against the Malays?
  2. Did Mohd Ali fail to understand that the NEP was designed as an economic stepping stone for Bumiputras (including the natives) and not just the Malays?
  3. What has Chua's failure to address the shortage in medical workers got to do with the NEP?
Mohd Ali might be playing the racial card again in his attempt to discredit Chua. On the other hand, Chua's recent reproach on the controversial government policy could also be his tactic to rake in more votes in his party presidential bid. Either way, Chua's statement certainly made more sense than Mohd Ali's.

Something has got to be wrong; when the objectives of the NEP were yet to be met even after 38 years of its introduction. UMNO politicians like Mohd Ali reasoned that the NEP had benefited the Malays by bridging the economic disparity with the non-Malays. True - but only to a certain extent.

Malaysians do not hide the fact that poverty is still very evident in rural Malay and non-Malays communities. However, in order for the NEP to succeed, the "benefits" of the NEP should not be given at the expense of the other communities. The discriminatory practice of the NEP to benefit certain quarters has been heavily criticized by many for creating an unequal socio-economic playing field.

Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman also opposed the overly-ambitious policy which he deemed as "an attempt to fill the target without thought for the ability and the capability of attaining it."

The Founding Father also said that "some became rich overnight while others became despicable Ali Babas and the country suffered economic set-backs." Though the Malays of high or low income levels are entitled to the same benefits of the NEP, "entitlement" does not necessarily rake in "equal results". Here is an example:

Under the NEP, Bumiputras are entitled to discounts in real estate. As the brochure on the left shows, Bumiputras are entitled to 7% discount regardless of the income group they belong to.

Now, if the NEP was truly meant to "reduce the wealth gap", how does a Bumiputra of the lower income group afford to buy the million ringgit building in the first place? Wealthy bumiputras take advantage of this by buying real estate at lower prices and selling them again at the normal price.

Wouldn't it make more sense to offer the similar discount to not just Bumiputras but also to Malaysians who are of the lower income group? That way, it would certainly be more effective in bridging the economic divide between the different social classes of the country.

The benefits in the real estate sector is just one of many radical provisions enshrined in the NEP. To read more about the NEP, check out Wikipedia's article on the Malaysian New Economic Policy.

To conclude, there is clearly no solid basis now to argue that the NEP was a success as statistics have proven otherwise. The policy had indeed fallen short of its expectations to eradicate poverty on a national scale. Malaysia has been riding on a faulty engine all these years when the government still assures the general public that it is still Formula One worthy. In the 2007 UMNO General Assembly, Education Minister and UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein quoted from a local study; saying that at current rates, it would take 120 years for the Malays to achieve income parity

Gee, 120 years? Something in the NEP is definitely not working right, ain't it?

3 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    Aiyoyo! Rich malay can afford rm1.5million villa still want 7% NEP discount? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bumi_discount_mod.jpg This is NEP abuse! Mana boleh?

  2. Anonymous said...

    Do you know that Only MCA, MIC are really the supporters of NEP. Even the Malays are trying hard to get out of the crutches syndromes created to disadvantage them. With the crutches given out by BN the malays will forever be a handicap and have no choice but to find support from BN. Its like A drug you are addicted to it.
    So MCA is like a punching bag, they are paid be the punching bag. How can you allowed MCA the slave, I mean the punching bag to open their mouth. So MCA pleas shut up.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Today our minister is enjoying his hari raya at his best luxury. I wonder whether he has any conscience towards the suffering of the people he has placed under ISA detention. If the spirit of this holy season is to forgive and forget, it definitely is not showing by the minister and the ruling party in the government, eventhough they are muslims! Can he and the ruling party ask themselves whether they really believe that these people are capable of threatening the security of the country and overthrow the government? If they think that these people can instigate unrest, how about letting the citizen of this country to have a say about such presumption? The minister and the ruling party always like to claim to have the majority support in their action but the truth is they may not even have the majority suppot of their own members within the party to act in such an uncaring and unforgiving manner. If the minister and the ruling party do have some decent human character, the least thing they can do is to free those under ISA detention without trial and allow them to face the proper court of law in this country. Is it that difficult to do the honourable thing as a human being towards another?

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