(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The clarification by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of the statement by the Economic Adviser and executive director to National Economic Action Council (NEAC), Tun Daim Zainuddin a day earlier that the governmentís proposal to allow non-Bumiputeras to acquire stakes in Bumiputera companies is temporary and in certain cases only is most disappointing.
It is indicative that the government is not ready for the concept of new bumiputras which I advocated yesterday, so that Malaysia can go beyond the old bumiputera and non-bumiputera distinction and recognise all Malaysians as the new bumiputeras who swim or sink in the same boat
I had hoped that the NEAC would dare to give this bold idea serious consideration, recommend it for adoption by the Cabinet and Government, and better still, get it incorporated into the Yang di Pertuan Agongís Royal Address as government policy when declaring open the new session of Parliament on March 23.
My hope has proved to be premature, as with the clarification by the Prime Minister, it is clear that the government has no intention to go beyond the old division of Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras and to boldly implement the concept of Bangsa Malaysia in Vision 2020 and recognise all Malaysians as the new bumiputeras.
The clarification by the Prime Minister also raises questions about another assurance which had been given by the government, and repeated by Daim, that there would be no "bail-out" of any company.
Mahathir said investment agencies like Permodalan Nasional Berhad has limited capacity to acquire shares in Bumiputera companies facing problems. He could not say how many companies were expected to be affected, adding: "I dare not say, but we want to save them. Otherwise, they will face big problems."
For a start, the government should make public a list of the companies which "face problems" and which has the approval of the government that they should be "saved".