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Media Statement by Dr. Chen Man Hin in Seremban on Sunday, 5 July 2009:

Reforms must be liberal, must promote a competitive and meritocratic society

Reforms by Prime Minister Najib Razak are not liberal or modern enough to propel Malaysia to be competitive to meet the challenges of a global world

PM NAJIB RAZAK have introduced a series of reforms in an attempt to transform Malaysia to a high income country. He has slimmed down the NEP by reducing the 30% bumiputra equity quota to 12.5%. He has also curbed the powers of the Foreign Investment Committee and substituted it with a smaller committee.

To reassure the bumiputras, he has retained the 30% bumiputra equity target, but will use different modes to achieve the objective.

It is a pity that the PM has not understood why the 40 year old NEP has failed to help poor Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians. The average poor Malay household only earn about RM3,000 per household or only RM500 per person (in a family of 5). Admittedly, the NEP enriched Umno cronies who became obscenely rich, while the Malays in rural areas are still mired in poverty.

PM Najib should learn from the NEP experience

The 40 year old NEP slowed down economic growth since it was implemented in 1971. In 1957 at independence, Malaysia had the second highest per capita income (PCI) in Asia, after Japan. The World Bank has statistics that showed the per capita income slowed down since 1971, and has fallen behind S Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2008, Malaysia has a PCI of US$6,000, while S Korea has US$19,000, Taiwan US$17,000, Hong Kong US$30,000 and Singapore US$34,000.

It was Malaysia’s natural resources that saved the day, otherwise our pci would be much lower in the company of banana republics.

The causes

1.The NEP drove away foreign investors, and last year our FDI was only RM46 billion, and estimated to fall by half this year. Thailand has more FDIs than Malaysia.

2. The bumiputra quota system. Bumiputras have been showered with quotas from the day they were born, they were pampered in every field of personal endeavour. The quota system has engendered a dependent psychology which has affected their performance in education, in jobs and in business. In other words, the country is moving at 50% capacity, and resulting in a low per capita income. If all citizens have put their shoulders to the wheel, the per capital income (nominal) should be near US$20,000 as in a developed country.

The old formula of quotas and bumiputraism has failed to bring prosperity

PM NAJIB has himself admitted that the NEP quota system is outdated and not productive any more. However he did not advocate a new philsophy for the country. Instead, he did say that in the future, the 30% target is still the objective, and a new model is contemplated to achieve that. This is unbelievable. What he is proposing would be equivalent to reviving NEP, in which case, he is condemning Malaysia to another 40 years of economic stagnation and the plight of the poor will get worse.

Time to adopt a culture of meritocracy and competitiveness

We live in new global age where race is neutral and where nations interact on the principle of competitiveness, accountability and transparency. We must have good governance, because in the new era the investment climate must be liberal, open, corruption free and judicial independence.

The ability of the indigenous people, whether Malays, Dayaks or Ibans are as good as their Malaysian brothers and sisters. Statistics show that 50% or more are professionals, engineers, doctors, accountants and corporation executives, many are doing well in service industries.

Education is the key to success for all. The next is discipline and hard work. These are the same qualities of successful people in other countries, especially developed countries in the States, Europe, Japan, or India.

China is the classic example of success. from a poor communist country, she has become the third richest country of the world because a former premier, Deng Xiao Peng promulated four modern liberalisation policies of a free market economy. The people put in a lot of hard work and discipline. China, it is predicted that she will overtake Japan in 2010, and become the world’s second richest country.

Malaysia can be a developed country also, if it modernises like China and is united like one people as Malaysians, no ketuanan melayu and no bumi and non bumiputras.

* Dr. Chen Man Hin, DAP Life Advisor



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