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Five   reasons why UMNO Youth  proposal for revival of New Economic Policy must be taken seriously and not treated dismissively  as mere rhetorics by two UMNO Youth leaders to garner transient political mileage

at the  DAP forum on “No More NEP” held at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

by Lim Kit Siang  

(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): There are at least five   reasons why the UMNO Youth General Assembly proposal last month for the revival of the New Economic Policy  (NEP) must be taken seriously and not treated dismissively as mere rhetorics  by two UMNO Youth leaders to garner  transient political mileage, viz:

  • The adoption  of the UMNO Youth proposal for the revival of the New Economic Policy  by the UMNO General Assembly the same weekend;
  • The rubber-stamping of the UMNO Youth proposal as  the “New National Agenda” by  all the 14 Barisan Nasional Youth wings in a joint meeting within a week.
  • The endorsement of the UMNO Youth proposal by the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council within two weeks of the UMNO Youth General Assembly on 20th July 2005.
  • The acceptance of the UMNO Youth proposal as a “fait accompli” by top MCA and Gerakan leaders as representing Barisan Nasional policy, with none of them questioning or challenging the proposal, despite the intense campaigning in the MCA and Gerakan  party elections.
  • The role and involvement in the past few years in the  strategizing and formulation of the revival of the NEP as the  “New National  Agenda” by one of the original formulators of the New Economic Policy 35 years ago – Tan Sri Dr. Just Faaland. Faaland is a member of the International Advisory Panel of experts recently announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to advise the Malaysian government how to handle the economic challenges of globalization.

It would appear that the UMNO Youth proposal for the revival of the NEP has quickly become “national policy” without much discussion inside the Barisan Nasional or any consultation in the country.

In the Barisan Nasional, the debate has moved from policy level to the question of implementation, with MCA and Gerakan leaders seeking and the Prime Minister giving  assurances that the  “New National Agenda” to revive the NEP would be implemented in a manner that would be  fair to all.

This is however putting the cart before the horse, as before the nation enters into a discussion on implementation, how to ensure that it would be fair and just to all, there should first be a national consensus on whether the “New National Agenda” for the next 15 years  should be the revival of the NEP.

The 48th National Day which Malaysians will be celebrating in six days’ time has been cast under a cloud by two recent controversies –UMNO Youth’s demand for the revival of the NEP and the furore over the purported call by the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik for the abandonment of the Merdeka “social contract”.

Although the Prime Minister quashed the “social contract” controversy before it got out of hand, the latter had highlighted the serious  situation where top UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders are quite ignorant about the Merdeka “social contract” reached by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of independence as the bedrock of the nation.

As for the former, Malaysians should not have short memory and forget that the NEP had been the  major cause of national division and   racial polarization in the seventies and eighties and the main reason for the serious scourge of  corruption even  today.

One result of the NEP in the seventies and eighties was the mass emigration of Malaysian professional overseas, which was contemptuously dismissed by  top Barisan Nasional leaders at the time  as “good riddance to bad rubbish”.

Are the present Barisan Nasional leaders going to have the  same attitude if the revival of NEP so undermined public confidence as to result in a second “brain drain” in the nation’s history – in an era of information society and knowledge-economy when the countries  of the world are competing to attract the world’s best talents to their shores?

The Prime Minister gave a very inspiring and uplifting speech at the UMNO General Assembly last month, speaking about excellence, meritocracy, integrity, the attributes of  competitiveness for Malaysia to face the challenges of globalization.  Unfortunately, this perspective was not matched by the UMNO General Assembly proceeding which sent out a most jarring, exclusive and inward-looking message in  trying to revive the old agenda of bumiputras versus non-bumiputras when the new challenge should be Malaysians versus the rest of the world.

The Malaysian people and civil society should send out a loud and clear message that there should be the fullest national consultation before any policy decision is taken whether the NEP revival should be the “New National Agenda” for the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the second-half of the 30-year Vision 2020.  With two years to a half-century Malaysian  nationhood, there should be a high-level and representative commission to chart the future and strategies for the next 50 years for a united, progressive and prosperous Malaysia – which should form the basis for a national debate when Malaysia celebrates our 50th National Day in 2007.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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