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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday
): Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s opening speech at the Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri delegates conferences here on13.11.2006 that no time limit will be set to achieve the Malay agenda to uplift the status of the race, as it was impossible to correct the 446 years Malays were oppressed under the rule of foreigners between 1511 and 1957 within a period of 20 to 30 years, is unnecessarily confrontational and contrary to the advice given by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to UMNO delegates to be mindful of the sensitivities of other Malaysians.
Malays oppressed for 446 years by foreign colonialists from England, Portuguese and Dutch does not give BN the right to do the same to non-Malays who were similarly oppressed by the same foreign colonialists. By talking of continuing the struggle through deploying every available resource for the sake of our people the Malays, Najib forgets that non-Malays are also Malaysians. Non-Malays are asking why they should be ”punished” when they were not the ones who oppressed the Malays but suffered worse oppression than the Malays, especially during the Second World War when the Japanese brutalized and tortured non-Malays. In fact, the same foreign colonialists who oppressed the Malays are treated better now by the government than their common Malaysian citizens who are non-Malays.
Najib’s remarks that there is no time limit to achieve the Malay agenda shows that the New Economic Policy, or the NEP which was supposed to end in 1990 is, is a “Never Ending Policy” that would continue indefinitely. This is contrary to the assurances that such quotas are only temporary and not permanent as well as a betrayal of the BN government making justice as the guiding principle of governance.
Worse the government has shown a willingness to lie or contradict itself to justify the necessity of a “Never-Ending Policy”. Najib’s attacks on Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s 'skewed study’ that bumiputra equity in businesses now stood at 45% is based on emotion but not on facts. He did not put forward facts nor reveal the methodology used by the government to rebut Dr Lim’s research conclusions. To-date neither Najib nor the government has produced any independent research to back its data unlike Dr Lim, whose findings are supported by Uiversity Malaya head of the Faculty of Business and Accountancy M. Fazilah Abdul Samad in a 2002 study.
Worse the government yesterday withdrew Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek’s earlier announcement in Parliament on 7.11.2006 of 36.64% bumiputra equity ownership in listed companies for 2005 as incorrect. This withdrawal is based on data produced by the technical committee of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi on 13.11.2006.
Effendi claimed that the correct figure of bumiputra equity ownership in listed companies for 2005 is 21.8% and not 36.64%. We have now two versions, one from the Finance Ministry and one from the Prime Minister’s department. Such self-contradiction is almost comical when both Ministries are headed by the same one person, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah himself. Does the right hand know not what the left hand is doing that they have to fight each other?
This ridiculous situation would be a good joke were it not a sad and serious reflection of the decline of professionalism in the civil service and independent data that is reliable and trustworthy. The retraction of the government of its own statistics show that statistics in Malaysia politicized and perverted to suit UMNO’s Malay agenda that the NEP 30% target has not been reached and requires to be continued indefinitely..
Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was right when he mentioned that the Chinese in Malaysia were systematically marginalized but he was half-right because he forgot to include Indians, orang Asli, poor Malays and bumis from East Malaysia. The NEP has resulted in corruption, political double-standards and discriminatory policies that widens income inequality and socio-economic injustices where only the few UMNO-putras or BN-putras rich benefit at the expense of all Malaysians, including poor Malays.
The United Nations Human Development Report consistently list Malaysians as suffering the worst income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia. This is conceded by the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) which showed 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.
Not many Malaysians, whether Malay or non-Malay are rich like UMNO, MCA or MIC millionaires. How many Malays own APs or shares or are millionaires like UMNO Youth Deputy President Khairy Jamaluddin who can own RM 9.2 million worth of shares or like Datuk Roslan Hashim who can spend RM 3.5 million for his wedding or Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi who can afford to give RM 50 million worth of properties to his former wife in a divorce settlement.
Not many non-Malays are as rich as MCA Deputy Youth President Ling Hee Leong who became the youngest billionaire at 27 years old when he borrowed RM 1.2 billion to purchase 3 publicly listed companies. Clearly to avoid answering the question by poor Malays demanding a share of the corporate bumi equity monopolized by UMNO leaders, Najib is trying to distract attention by claiming that the 30% target has still not been achieved and indirectly passing the blame to non-Malays.
As long as Najib and UMNO continues to rely on race and not needs as the basis for economic policy-making, Malaysia will not only suffer greater income inequality between the rich and poor but also be more divisive and unable to compete internationally in this era of globalization.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP