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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Monday
): Malaysians should quickly get over the shock over Johor UMNO Chair and Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman extremist and irresponsible comments by telling him that it is not Bangsa Malaysia that is not acceptable consequences but Ghani himself that is not acceptable for rejecting the concept of uniting all Malaysians regardless of race or religion. This is the first time that an UMNO Menteri Besar has rejected Bangsa Malaysia because it threatened Malay supremacy or ketuanan Melayu.
DAP regrets that Ghani has even issued warnings of dire consequences by advocating a Bangsa Malaysia. He said that Bangsa Malaysia was unconstitutional could lead to political instability, was not acceptable because it meant a rojak (mishmash) of races in the country.
Ghani said, “As the Constitution clearly defined the races as Malay and others, there was no justification for demands for a united and single Bangsa Malaysia or a Malaysian race. The concept is seen as a threat to the Malays and the special position provided for them in the Constitution. Even if the term Bangsa Malaysia is to be used, it must only be applied in the context of all the peoples of Malaysia with the Malays as the pivotal race.”
DAP rejects Ghani’s contention that Bangsa Malaysia is unconstitutional when every citizen is accorded basic human rights under our Merdeka constitution in 1957 to forge a united nation. Clearly for a senior UMNO leader to reject Bangsa Malaysia is in itself unconstitutional becaust it rejects political equality accorded to all Malaysian citizenry under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.
DAP believes unity in diversity would unite a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Malaysia. By respecting the similarities and differences through integration and not assimilation, Bangsa Malaysia would strengthen national unity.
Clearly UMNO and Ghani are still falling back on racial politics to maintain their political control in government. It is ridiculous for Ghani to suggest that even if Bangsa Malaysia is used, the Malays shall be the pivotal race. By emphasizing on ketuanan Melayu, UMNO clearly continues to discriminates Malaysians and classifies them as first-class and second-class citizens.
This is grossly unfair as a Chinese Baba who was born and has lived in Malaysia for 10 generation is a lesser citizen with inferior rights to an Indonesia Malay who became a new citizen. Without political equality there is no justice. Injustice is contrary not only to the general election promises of BN and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi but also the philosophy of good governance.
Rejecting meritocracy system for an academic like Ghani is short-sighted and has no place in this era of globalization that stresses on competition and productivity. When other countries are trying to compete with merit and technological knowledge, creativity and innovation; it is sad that Malaysia are still trapped with outdated thinking that stresses on racial quotas.
This self-serving policies has resulted in a chronic brain-drain where all our talented Malaysians leave for neighbouring countries not because they do not love their country but because they do not have equal opportunities to maximize their potential. DAP congratulates Melaka-born Lee Hann Leng, a final year student at University of Melbourne pursuing double degrees in law and commerce, for winning a Rhodes scholarship to complete his Ph.d programme in Oxford University.
However DAP fears that abandoning meritocracy would not only fail to help the Malays but also be a loss to the country. UMNO has clearly revealed its strategy of blaming the Chinese as scapegoats for any failure in their policies.UMNO’s preferential policies have not worked but only widened the income gap between the rich and poor Malays.
Professor Dr Lim Teck Ghee estimates bumi equity ownership based on market value in Bursa Malaysia has greatly surpassed the 30% target worth hundreds of billions of ringgit. UMNO millionaire leaders dare not admit that the 30% target has been achieved just to avoid answering poor Malays this important question, “Who are the Malay beneficiaries of this hundreds of billions of ringgit?”
Malaysians are marginalized and suffer the worst income inequality in South-East Asia. The share of income of the bottom 40% of the population declined from 14.5% in 1990 to 13.5% in 2004 whilst the share of the top 20% of the population increased from 50% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2004. The income inequality between rich and poor bumis are the worst compared to other ethnic groups. That is why many poor Malays and non-Malays neither own shares nor APs..
Not every Malaysian is well-off like UMNO Youth Deputy President Khairy Jamaluddin who can borrow RM 9.2 million for his shareholdings or MCA Youth Deputy President Ling Hee Leong who can borrow RM 1.2 billion to purchase 3 listed companies or UMNO ADUN Datuk Zakaria who can build a RM 6 million “palace” without approval plans or as wealthy as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi who can transfer RM 50 million worth of assets in a divorce settlement.
For UMNO to continue NEP when it has outlived its due date of 1990 and achieved its target of 30% bumi corporate equity is clearly a political strategy to maintain the status quo to benefit UMNO. But Malaysians have clearly lost out from such a political strategy by UMNO that has only enriched the few UMNO and BN leaders at the expense of 26 million Malaysians.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP