KUALA LUMPUR – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) called today for a clear end date for a new government programme aimed at improving the Bumiputera community’s income and wellbeing.
IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said that there is a need to shift away from race-based policies, as such policies only have a “declining relevance in a modern democracy such as Malaysia.”
“We need a clear target date when BETR 2.0 will end so that there is an urgency in implementing it. Without an end date, we will never know how far we have progressed and how much more need to be done,” Wan Saiful said in a statement, referring to the second edition of the Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap (BETR) launched yesterday.
“Eventually, we need to come to stage when all Bumiputera can stand tall and proud to say we have graduated from the assistance programme. At that time, assistance can be given based on needs, regardless of ethnicity. Then everyone will benefit. As the prime minister has said, it is not a zero-sum game,” he added.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched BETR 2.0 in an effort to strengthen the economic participation of the Bumiputera community.
Najib listed out five key transformations for the Bumiputera community under the roadmap, including a shift from only measuring the community’s absolute stake in the economy.
The PM said the benchmark for Bumiputera wellbeing must evolve from the New Economic Policy’s (NEP) focus on Bumiputera equity size in the corporate sector to more diverse factors, such as their average monthly wages and the number of qualified professionals.
Wan Saiful praised Najib over his calls for the Bumiputera community to embrace competition.
“Competition and being competitive, is good and not something to be afraid of. We must not continue protectionist policies which insulate or shield Bumiputera-owned companies from competition because that will bring more harm than good,” said the head of the libertarian think tank.
“To improve our standing in the regional and international markets, our products and services must be able to stand on par or be better than those of our competitors. It is not enough to be a ‘Jaguh Kampung’ (village champion),” he added.
– Malay Mail