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Whether there should be a revival of NEP should be a decision taken after full and proper discussion and consultation involving all Malaysians and not just by UMNO Youth

Media  Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Monday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pledged that the government would be fair to all Malaysians to allay fears and disquiet created by the UMNO Youth demand for the revival of the New Economic Poliacy (NEP) at the recently-concluded UMNO General Assembly, which seemed to have received the support of the UMNO leadership before any Cabinet approval or Parliamentary sanction.

The first step to implement this pledge of “fairness to all Malaysians” is to accept the important principle that whether there should be a revival of NEP should be a decision taken after full and proper discussion and consultation involving all Malaysians not just by UMNO Youth.  This is why a National  Consultative Conference involving all political parties, professions, NGOs, racial and religious groups should be convened for this purpose.

Secondly, just as Abdullah said UMNO, and the Government it leads,  “is merely trying to complete its unfinished business and is not interested in taking away anybody’s rights” when referring to the proposal for the revival of the NEP, it must equally be accepted that any criticism or even opposition to the revival of NEP must not be equated with being anti-Malay or anti-national but out of concern for  what is in the best interests of the nation and all Malaysians regardless of race  confronted with the increasingly competitive challenges of globalization.

In the past week, the most significant aspect of the genesis of the  New Economic Policy (NEP) had been overlooked, ignored or forgotten – that while the NEP had a two-prong objective of eradicating poverty irrespective of race and the restructuring of Malaysian society to eliminate the identification of race with vocation or location, the  overriding objective of NEP from the very first day of its promulgation in 1970 was to achieve national unity.

This means that the most important measure in the evaluation of the NEP must be its success or failure to fulfill its overriding objective to achieve national unity – and this must also be the yardstick  in the discussion of  the pros and the cons  of the proposal to revive the NEP. 

When the New Economic Policy was introduced in 1970, it was envisaged as a 20-year programme.  With UMNO Youth’s  proposal for the  revival of the NEP for 15 years from 2006-2020, the 20-year NEP is going to become a 50-year programme. 

At the recent UMNO General Assembly, voices were raised for the upping of the 30 per cent target of bumiputra equity stake to 50% and more. 

Shouldn’t  all these important issues  be the subject of a  rational national discussion, not so much for  a Malay Agenda as the formulation of  a Malaysian Agenda?

The 20-year NEP had failed in its overriding objective to achieve national unity, or 46 years after Merdeka in  1957 there would be no need  to introduce the national training service and 48 years after Merdeka to propose the revival of NEP or NEP2.

In postulating  a 30% bumiputra share of corporate stock ownership, UMNO Youth has not addressed  two matters:

  • the   target of 30% ownership of corporate shareholdings by Bumiputras was but one and not the “be-all and end-all”  target of the NEP, whose overriding and overarching objective was  the achievement of national unity; and
  • the target of  30% equity share for bumiputras had  been achieved by the end of the 20-year NEP in 1990, if the Malays had not sold off their share ownerships from bumiputra quotas for quick capital gain and shares held by nominee companies which were  mainly bumiputra interests had been taken into consideration.

It is a matter of grave concern that criticisms and dissent about the UMNO Youth’s proposal for the revival of the NEP are being equated with being anti-Malay and anti-national, which is totally inimical to the overriding NEP objective to achieve national unity in multi-racial Malaysia.

The Prime Minister should ensure that the Malaysian public are not intimidated from voicing out their true and heart-felt feelings and responses to the UMNO Youth proposal for a NEP2 as the silencing of legitimate criticisms and dissent can only  result in  national alienation and division and not the achievement of  national unity - the highest objective of the 20-year NEP.



*  Lim Kit Siang,Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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