The Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) claims that in 2004, the bumiputera equity is at 18.9%, and the Chinese 39%, Indians 1.2%, nominee companies 8%, others 0.4% and foreigners 32.5%.
Khairy Jamaluddin and other Umno leaders talk of the failure of the New Economic Policy (NEP) to fulfill its objective of 30% bumi equity compared with the 18.9% in 2004 and that the 9MP is the final chance to achieve it.
Prof Dr Lim Teck Ghee of Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli)'s Centre for Public Policy Studies, an independent think-tank, argues with facts and figures, and even the methodology the centre uses, to state that the bumi equity has reached some 45%.
Lim has in February submitted a report that showed as at Sept 30, 2005, the bumi ownership of shares in Bursa Malaysia amounted to 45%, or RM 325.08 billion, out of the market capitalisation of RM715 billion.
He indicated that if the bumiputeras had not sold off their shares, their equity stake would easily have been higher than the 45%. An estimated 40% of the preferential shares given to bumis were sold by them for profit gains.
We have yet to hear from Khairy or any other Umno leaders that the figure quoted by Lim was incorrect. So far, we only hear some disagreement from one or two academicians. But none of them have put forward any argument.
We hope the prime minister could share with us the methodology used by his administration in obtaining the 18.9% figure, now that this has been seriously challenged by Asli and other prominent academicians.
Indeed, Lim has openly requested those who disagree with the Asli findings to challenge them with facts and figures and the methodology applied.
In addition, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng believes that the 18.9% figure was incorrect because "the 18.9% bumi equity is based on par value of share capital of limited companies."
He said "the value of share capital is a false reflection of the real or true worth of the company. A more accurate assessment, though not the most comprehensive and objective test, would be to take the market value of bumi equity of all listed companies in Bursa Malaysia."
Guan Eng further argues that "the more important question then is therefore not attaining 30% bumi equity which has been achieved, but who amongst the Malays owns the 45% bumi equity of BN based on market capitalisation."
The writer is DAP central executive committee member and NGO bureau chief.