BUSINESSES should not be counted on to implement the government’s socio-economic agenda to uplift Bumiputeras, because profit should be the core motivation for a company, economist Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez said.
Speaking at a forum today during an exchange on Malay affirmative action policies, Gomez said profit-making and social work should not mix.
Serious businessmen would not want to introduce risk to their enterprises by taking on a government agenda, he added.
“We still don’t understand this simple matter… when people start businesses, they want profits.
“Businessmen don’t do business to get into social work. If they did, they would go bankrupt,” Gomez said during the forum Malaysia’s Dilemma: The Future of Race-Based Policies at the Youth Economic Forum 2019 conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
The prominent economist was taking questions about why the Malays were still behind economically, despite incentives from the government, and what was the best way to close the wealth gap between races.
Another forum panellist, Malay Economic Action Council CEO Ahmad Yazid Othman, said during the session that Malays were left behind because they were not helped by major corporations run by Malaysian Chinese.
Yazid named as examples, YTL Corporation Bhd and the Berjaya Group, which are run by tycoons Francis Yeoh and Vincent Tan.
This prompted Gomez to ask whether Malay corporate giants had helped the Bumiputera community.
Gomez said since non-Malay tycoons were being questioned, the same could be asked of Malay tycoons like Halim Saad, Tajuddin Ramli, Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir and Samsudin Abu Hassan.
Gomez said corporations should not be blamed if they did not implement the Bumiputera economic agenda because this was not their role.
Meanwhile, Yazid suggested that the government implement a “unity index” within private companies to ensure there was no racial discrimination in the private sector.
Such an index could indirectly help Malays when facing job discrimination in terms of salary and opportunities, he said.
“Companies that promote diversity and racial unity through policies that are fair for all races can be rewarded by the government,” he suggested.