What is the point of reforming bumiputera policies?

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.” ― Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

COMMENT | The spat between the MCA and DAP about the upcoming bumiputera congress comes at an interesting time. As reported in the press, Daim Zainuddin has claimed that the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has recommended changes to the bumiputera policy to “get it right this time”.

Of course, if Harapan chooses to make the recommendations from the CEP public, it would save us a whole lot of time but strangely, accountability and transparency do not seem to be the goal of these reform ideas.

Who knows? Maybe this bumiputera congress is all about the “positive mindset change” and change of policy that the council hopes its recommendations will deliver. But really, the idea of the MCA and DAP – two Chinese power structures – attempting to outdo each other when it comes to these issues, is ridiculous.

Each is operating under a specific set of imperatives when it comes to dealing with Malay power structures. Ketuanan Melayu is still the bogeyman, and neither party comes out clean in this squabble. If Umno attempted to have this congress had it retained power, DAP – not Amanah or PKR – would have been firing salvos at MCA and MIC.

These two dingbats can argue over which non-Malay power structure spooks the Malays more. However, last year, Wan Saiful Wan Jan (who is now a Bersatu political operative) had already argued that affirmative action policies were morally wrong.

What I really like about Wan Saiful’s piece, beyond his candour, is that he stakes no middle ground. He argues against affirmative action as something morally wrong and does not attempt to soften the stance by pandering to the politically correct narrative of a “needs-based” approach.”

But this fight is really a sideshow. Actually, so is the idea of reforming this policy. It is pointless attempting to define this policy as anything other than a system of discriminatory practices that is the foundation of maintaining political and religious power in mainstream Malay politics. We are not merely talking about a system of rules which could be reformed but rather a mindset that has not only crippled the majority but also the non-Malay minorities....

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