It is official then - the New Economic Policy (NEP) is here to stay indefinitely. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said so in his opening speech at the Umno general assembly - that infamous yearly event where Umno politicians get to amplify their sense of self-importance and feed their masochist tendencies, often through obscenely shameful displays of racism.
The irony in this whole issue is that most Malaysians have long suspected that the NEP vehicle will never be stopped; only Umno politicians continue to delude the rakyat and themselves by giving the impression that when the right time comes, the NEP will be disbanded.
However, even if the question of the ultimate fate of the NEP was left open and unanswered, the door for any discussions pertaining to any aspect of the NEP is shut tight. The act of questioning the validity of the NEP has long been a taboo for both the Malays and non-Malays - the non-Malays risk being labeled as opponents or threats to the integrity of the Malay race while the Malays risk being branded as traitors to their own race for doing so.
In the view of the Umno politicians, only they - the so-called Umnoputras - have the wisdom, skills and determination to tinker, oversee and make statements about the NEP; it is perceived to be purely their exclusive domain. It does not matter to them that the NEP - which originally sought - to address the economic imbalance between the Malays and non-Malays and in the process become an instrument for national unity - has now become one of the dangerous divisive factors among Malaysians each time it is discussed.
It does not matter to them that the NEP is seriously compromising the competitiveness of the country as a global economic player and threatening to reduce Malaysia's attractive to foreign investors in the long run - damage which is considered to be worth it in the name of protecting the integrity and status quo of the Malay race.
It does not matter to them that the long dependence of the Malays on the perks and quotas provided for by the NEP has left the Malays wanting for more, complacent and under-performing besides feeding their own bloated sense of supremacy, behaving like little sultans in their own private fiefdoms.
It does not matter to them that two independent research studies have shown that with the right methodologies in place, the value of the Malay equity has long surpassed the targeted 30% set by the NEP proponents early in the 1970s. Even the figures released by the government showed the Malay equity share value hovers somewhere around 36% before it was hastily withdrawn and replaced with a new lower figure.
If the government cannot even get its own statistical data right, much less even consider the results provided by others, how will they know whether the NEP is giving the results they are hoping for? How will we know the direction the NEP will eventually take the nation into the future if we are in effect flying blind? The government's shifty attitude in divulging the accurate value of the share of Malay equity is akin to the act of the changing the goal posts in mid-game and reeks of something fishy that stinks to high heavens.
This act has also reinforces the long-held suspicions that the NEP is nothing more than a conduit for the well-connected to consolidate their wealth and gain easy money. It is then no wonder that most Umno politicians go all out of their way to religiously defend its apparent relevance - their very survival depends on it! Personally, I do not mind if some poor rubber tapper in the middle of Kedah are benefitting from the NEP; but the obvious situation to us all now is that such people are not.
The NEP - which has been reincarnated under different guises over the years - has been vulgarised, its original aims have long been betrayed. It is now nothing more than a facade, a pretense to generate wealth rather than to redistribute it. Its original noble intentions have been skewed to satisfy the whims of a select few whilst jeopradising the future of the country on the whole.
The implementation of the NEP - being a bold social engineering programme it is - needs to be continually and regularly monitored, its effectiveness evaluated to ensure that it will not take us to where we don't intend to go in the first place. Therefore, the lack of transparency on the government's behalf and the blanket ban on any dialogue pertaining to the NEP are disappointing to say the least, and irresponsibly reckless at most.
How long will the government turn a blind eye to this matter of national importance, I do not know; but one thing for sure, the rakyat are blind no more to such transgressions. Nonetheless, one thing is clear: the more Umno and the government in general tries to push for and justify the continuation of the NEP - which has degenerated into something totally different and passed its expiry date - the more hypocritical they will look and the stronger the backlash they will get from the rakyat, both from the Malays and non-Malays.
When that fateful time comes, when the tipping point is reached, the fallacy of this whole thing will be revealed and hopefully then, a new chapter in our country's history will begin.