Malaysiakini Letter

Daim has finally said it - now please do it!

Ramon Navaratnam

LETTER | For a long time, there has been growing concern for the need to revise or even remove the New Economic Policy (NEP) that was adopted in 1971 after the May 13 infamous riots.

Anwar Ibrahim had asked for the NEP to be revised to a needs-based rather than a race-based policy both in content and actual implementation.

Now Daim Zainuddin has finally supported this major change to a needs-based policy. This is important as presumably, he has the full backing from our prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is close and mostly listens to Daim.

This public shift in policy thinking will be widely and strongly welcomed by most fair-minded Malaysians of all races and religions.

This is because:

1. It’s inherently unjust and immoral to discriminate against some races because they are not Malay or bumiputera.

2. The poor are poor regardless of race and religion; and so any separate or different treatment will create and aggravate polarisation and disunity, as it has already done so.

3. Malaysians who are poor will lose their patriotism and sense of belonging if they are not treated as equal citizens.

But when can we implement this "New Malaysian Economic Policy" (NMEP)?

Now that Putrajaya`s chief advisor Daim has spoken, when can we see a concrete plan for its introduction and see a time schedule for its implementation?

It must not be just a matter of mere public announcements and the expression of good intentions but without real follow up action.

The change in our affirmative action policy has been long overdue. So now, there could be a concern as to whether the new change in economic policies will be seriously and faithfully implemented?

If indeed these needs-based affirmative action policies, which benefit the Malays and the bumiputera mostly, are delayed in their adoption and distorted in their implementation, then great doubt and distrust will arise and spread across our country.

This will be bad especially when there are rising recessionary trends all over the world and in Malaysia too.

It is wonderful that both Daim and Anwar have come out clearly to push for a needs-based economic policy.

It will strengthen our prime minister`s ``Prosperity Sharing Policy`` that he wishes to promote in our socio-economic planning.

This new needs-based plan must be reflected in our Budget 2020 and the economic plans that follow.

Most importantly, there should be a plan for implementing the "New Malaysia Economic Policy" (NMEP) that will definitely benefit the Bottom 40 of Malaysians of all races and religions in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Then we shall all see less polarisation, greater harmony and stronger national unity sooner rather than later.

This revision of the NEP will benefit all poor Malaysians. It will also be a fitting salute, tribute and celebration of our 62nd Merdeka at the end of this month.

Selamat Hari Merdeka ke-62!

The writer is chairperson, Asli Center of Public Policy Studies

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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