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MP SPEAKS | Struggle for better Malaysia is unfinished business

MP SPEAKS | An elected representative who is doing a Masters programme in a local university asked me yesterday what I thought of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

I spoke about the NEP in my first speech in Parliament 51 years ago in February 1971 where I declared that the DAP supported affirmative policies to help the poor and the backward but it must be based on need but not on race.

I said that the DAP is “dedicated to the abolition of poverty and economic backwardness regardless of race” and that we want to create a “classless community of Malaysians based on fellowship, co-operation and service, where there is no exploitation of man by man, class by class or race by race”.

I said DAP supported any measure which will help better the lot of the Malay poor but we were strongly opposed to the use of NEP to enrich the new Malay rich and powerful to make them richer while the mass of peasantry and poor were exploited as ever.

I coined the word “Umno-putra” in the eighties to describe the abuse of the NEP to benefit the Malay rich and powerful at the expense of the Malay poor, while the non-Malay poor were ignored and disregarded.

We can now judge the fruits of the NEP after half a century. Although originally given a 20-year time frame, it proved to be impossible for the Umno-putras to end their passport to wealth and power and it has continued for half a century.

Let us leave it to future historians and sociologists to investigate whether there is any link between NEP and firstly, Malaysia’s degeneration into excessive racial and religious polarisation in the 21st century and secondly, the deterioration of Malaysia into a kleptocracy, but the fact of Malaysia’s decline is the past half-a-century is indisputable, losing out to one nation after another - Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

At the rate of present decline, we may even be overtaken by Indonesia and the Philippines in the coming decades in international competitiveness, the rule of law, the separation of powers, good governance and an effective and efficient government if we do not buck up.

Our poor performance in the last two years in...

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