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Najib, Syed Hamid Albar and Hishamuddin should have the courage to hold a dialogue with Thierry Rommel that the New Economic Policy (NEP) is stifling our economy are backed by facts and not use emotional sentiments to hide the truth


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Monday): DAP advises Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razah, Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar and BN Youth President Datuk Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn should have the courage to hold a dialogue with EU's ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Thierry Rommel on whether his contentions that the NEP is stifling our economic progress are backed by facts and not use on emotional sentiments to hide the truth. If Rommel is wrong why not refute him with the facts and the truth.  

BN leaders should be reminded of the famous words of Samuel Johnson, “patriotism is the last refuge of a soundrel”. Strong statements by BN Youth relying on nationalistic sentiments that Rommel is irresponsible, meddling in internal affairs of Malaysia and not to be tolerated reveals deep-seated fears of the truth as well as an ingrained inferiority complex. Reason not emotion should be the basis for evaluating Dr Rommel’s views, which is worth revisiting. 

 “Rommel attributed Malaysia’s slowdown in drawing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to a lack of a level playing field for foreign companies “even when they are in a partnership with bumis”.  

 Together with an inefficient public service, corruption and the questionable and unchecked practices of Malay preferential treatment, it had also dampened the business environment and economy of the country, he added.  

 Rommel said the government is using the NEP as an excuse to practice "significant protectionism of its own market," including the automotive sector, steel, consumer goods, agricultural products, services and government contracts.  

 While the public service delivery system lacks efficiency, responsiveness, transparency and accountability, corruption as well as the questionable and unchecked practices of Malay preferential treatment also plague the business environment and economy of the country, he added.  

 In urging Malaysia to re-look its pro-Bumiputera policies to attract European investors, Rommel warned that opening up a public debate on the NEP would incur short-term political risks. However, Rommel said such risks can be managed through transparency, dialogue and education.”

Syed Hamid feels that what Dr Rommel said was not based on facts but DAP doubts he can rebut a single sentence of what Dr Rommel said above. Such failure has clearly induced an impotent rage until Syed Hamid claimed that EU’s overall investment and trade volume with the EU is very high. This is contrary to what is stated in the official website of the Delegation of the European Commission to Malaysia,

“From the EU’s perspective, the importance of Malaysia as a trading partner has fallen over the years as well. Whereas in 2001, Malaysia accounted for 1.7% of EU’s total imports and 1.1% of EU’s total exports, the percentages have fallen to 1.4% respectively 0.9% in 2005.  In 2005, Malaysia’s exports to the EU amounted to €16 billion, its imports from the EU to €9.2 billion, resulting in a trade surplus in favor of Malaysia of €6.8 billion.” 

In view that Malaysia enjoys a favourable trade surplus with EU of 6.8 billion euros or RM 78.2 billion in 2005, it is wise to weigh Dr Rommel’s views today that,

“I’m not looking at an added economic advantage for any group but rather at the big picture, both the positive and negative effects when it comes to EU and Asean FTA negotiations, of which Malaysia is a key member.  We should not link trade policy with bumiputra policy.” 

Whilst Malaysia may send protest notes to the EU, such action is warranted when there are justifiable grounds. However by trying to present the NEP as efficient, competitive, pro-trade, encourages a level playing field and equal opportunities lacks logical justification and may instead harm relations with EU, which may prove costly when it affects our favourable trade surplus with Malaysia.


* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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