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Will another “gag order” be issued on public discussion on equity ownership if mounting pressures fail to get ASLI to withdraw the CPPS study that bumiputra equity ownership is 45%?
(Paliament, Monday) : Is another “gag order” like the one imposed on public discussion on Article 11 and inter-faith issues in the works with regard to equity ownership if mounting pressures fail to get the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) to withdraw the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) its study that bumiputra equity ownership is 45%?
This is the question uppermost in many minds at the latest turn of events after the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi came out with the warning on Thursday that the “inaccurate” CPPS “ study could incite anger” – followed by the manifestation of such “anger” in the past few days.
An Umno heavyweight, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Umno Vice President and Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry) has dismissed the CPPS study as “rubbish”, issued an ultimatum that Asli admits its mistake together with a demand that the government take “firm action”.
Muhyiddin made these statements in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia yesterday headlined “Jangan cabar wibawa kerajaan” and which was also reported as its front-page headline story, “Kajian ASLI ‘sampah’ – Muhyiddin mahu dakwaan Melayu kuasai 45% di tarik balik”.
Another Umno Vice President, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who is Malacca Chief Minister, has weighed in to mount pressure for Asli to correct is error, accusing the think-tank of “fooling” the Malays.
Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Husin had also joined in the chorus of criticism against Asli, accusing it of having an ulterior motive and seeking to “sabotage” the government’s national agenda.
Ominously, Gerakan President and Minister for Energy, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik seems to be supportive of such a “gag order” although publicly for very different reasons.
Speaking in Pantai Remis yesterday, Keng Yaik called for a halt to the argument over racial equity and wealth distribution and concentrate instead on wealth creation and transparency.
The Star reported Keng Yaik as saying:’
“In my 30 years of political experience, the issue of racial equity usually crops up only when the country approaches a recession.
“Stop worrying over racial equity as it will not solve the matter at hand – an impending recession and the lack of wealth creation for the country.”
Keng Yaik said that debates like these only fuel the perceptions that Malays always felt they did not have enough, the Chinese felt they had sacrificed too much, while the Indians felt that they did not have anything at all.
This has become a critical test for the Abdullah premiership on two counts:
The Prime Minister should heed the advice of Dr. Terence Gomez, research co-ordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), who said that “There is no need to racialise the discussion on equity ownership”.
Gomez confirmed that the CPPS report is the product of a professional study by a multi-racial group of scholars and consultants interested in contributing to the discussion on policy planning for the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
As the CPPS report was submitted to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and other government leaders in February 2006 as Asli contribution to the formulation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, why had the government and Umno leaders taken nine months to react?
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Asli Director and Prof. Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, CPPS Director have both welcomed an opportunity to discuss with the Economic Planning Unit where greater transparency and the disclosure of the methodologies used by the government and the think-tank can throw more light on the issues in dispute.
All Cabinet Ministers, whether Umno, MCA, Gerakan, MIC or other component parties, should speak up against any notion of a “gag order” on public discussion on equity ownership and demonstrate their commitment to an open society where rational discussion and debate can take the place of emotional posturings, outbursts and threats by irresponsible political leaders paving the way for Malaysia to advance towards a “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” nation.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman