Base affirmative action on needs, not race, govt urged
PETALING JAYA: While affirmative action shouldn’t be done away with completely, it should be prefaced on needs rather than race, say two prominent Malaysians.
Speaking at an online forum on the legacy of the New Economic Policy (NEP), former finance ministry secretary-general Mohd Sheriff Kassim and former CIMB group chairman Nazir Razak both agreed that Malays are now more capable of finding their own success than they were 50 years ago when the policy was introduced.
“The policy of preferential treatment (of Malays) should be reviewed so that they will be encouraged to compete on their own merit,” said Sheriff.
“From what I’ve observed, young Malays don’t like to apply for office jobs like in the old days, they prefer the rough and tumble of doing their own thing. With the digital transformation in this country, I see them doing amazing things to earn a living in partnership with their friends.”
He said the upcoming 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), which is slated to be tabled in October, is a perfect opportunity for the country to change its course.
“Hopefully, when the 12MP is tabled, the government will announce the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 to do away with the negative aspects of social engineering and focus instead on inclusive policies based on needs instead of race.”
Sheriff said that some groups, through no fault of their own, need government intervention in order to improve their circumstances, and should instead be the ones who are offered improved opportunities.
Nazir said the NEP’s extension in 1990 coincided with a bull run in the stock market, which allowed Bumiputeras to take advantage of the 30% corporate equity target the government implemented under the programme.
“You didn’t need to work very hard (to get rich), you just needed to get some shares at a discount from the government or non-Malay community … hard work became optional for Malays.”
He said that removing race-based advantages would even be welcomed by many fellow Malay business leaders, as “they’re fed up of being seen as beneficiaries of a handicap”.
However, reforms have been difficult to implement, he said, as a “small but powerful” group who reaps the rewards of the NEP through high-ranking appointments and preferential treatment for contracts has been a staunch opponent. FMT
PETLAING JAYA: Government-linked companies (GLCs) are in urgent need of reform, and such action should include the shutting down of those which are not performing, Mohd Sheriff Kassim said.
The former finance ministry secretary-general said that while some of these GLCs played an important role in the country, too many had become non-essential and, worse, damaging.
“Some GLCs are important because of their development roles and strategic importance to the economy. The top 20 GLCs are also a good training ground for Malays to become corporate executives and should be retained,” he explained during a webinar on the legacy of the New Economic Policy (NEP).
“However, those that are non-essential and non-performing should be shut down, as they are taking away from the private sector because of the unfair competition. Many of these bad GLCs are not self-funded.”
He said this was particularly true of small GLCs that operate at state level.
Sheriff also lamented the way politics had become intertwined with the economy through these GLCs.
“Lately, some have become too politically-connected through the appointment of board positions.
“The country’s reputation for corporate practices will worsen if the politicisation of GLCs is not stopped,” he warned. FMT
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