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18.9% or 45%, poor Malays will remain poor
Published:  Sep 28, 2006 5:07 AM
Updated: Jan 29, 2008 10:21 AM

Asli's study, while illuminating, does not solve the problem of the poor Malays. As long as the Malay masses remain poor there is need for affirmative action - used as an excuse by the Malay elite to grab the lion's share.

On Reveal bumi equity calculations, gov't told

Yin Ee Kiong:

The comments made by Zainol Abidin of the Malay Chamber of Commerce that Asli's figures cannot be right as they differ from the government's is naive. He fails to see the point that Dr Lim made - that Asli's figures are open to scrutiny, just as the government's figures should be.

Only when there is transparency will we know the truth about the 30%. Hiding behind the OSA is most unhelpful and will only arouse further suspicions about the government's claim. Zainol's other comment that the 30% does not "depict the success of Malay businesses" is a different matter. It merely means that despite the advantages accorded to Malay businessmen and the assistance given by the government, Malay businesses still cannot hack it.

Maybe there should be a different focus which encourages a more competitive culture amongst Malay businesses instead of spoon feeding. Mollycoddled as they are today, Malay businessmen will never learn to compete. The government recognises this, which is why Badawi and Mahathir talked about crutches and wheelchairs and a culture of dependency. However, recognising the problem is only part of the solution. Taking action is the other - something neither leader has the political will to carry out.

Concerning UPM economics lecturer Judhiana Abdul Ghani's comment that the fruits of the NEP "only focused on a small group while the rest does not enjoy it": this again misses the point made by Asli that the target of 30% has been reached or even exceeded. However, she has a valid point: indeed - the NEP has benefitted the Malay elite (Umnoputras) disproportionately to the rakyat.

It is estimated that 80% of Malay wealth is held by 5% of Malays. This is after 35 years of crony economics. Cronyism is still as bad today as it was during Mahathir's administration. If the NEP is supposed to bridge the gap between the Malays and the others and to eradicate poverty irrespective of race, then we need a better distribution system.

Rich Malays don't need discounts on house purchases nor scholarships for their children: they should be made to stand on their own feet. Government assistance should in future be means tested, not race tested. That means, all Malaysians below a certain income level should be given government assistance.

The problem now is not so much the interracial socio-economic gap but the intraracial wealth gap. The present system will not only create a racial divide but also a class division as the rich become richer and the poor poorer. While I sympathise with Judhiana, I think it is for Malays like her to take it up with the government since the NEP is meant to benefit people like her.

Asli's study, while illuminating, does not solve the problem of the poor Malays. As long as the Malay masses remain poor there is need for affirmative action - used as an excuse by the Malay elite to grab the lion's share. Asli should come up with a study to show how the Malay rakyat have lost out and what exactly is their proportion of their communal wealth today.

For instance, talking about Malay shareholding is meaningless when most ordinary Malays cannot afford to buy shares. Whatever shares are held in their name by government agencies does not make them rich. It only benefits the trustees who are only accountable to those who put them there and not to the community - it is another gravy train for the elite. Similarly having Chinese or Indian billionaires does nothing for the poor Chinese or Indians.

To focus on the racial division of the "goodies", only further divides the races. It would have been better if Asli had focused on the class division between Malaysians. Malaysians of all races can identify with this issue and find common ground. Affirmative action must be used for what it was intended, to uplift the poor, not to enrich a few Malays and their Chinese and Indian cronies. Poverty is a class problem, not a race problem.

Kaisim: We can go on arguing on the topic of bumi equity until the cows come home and still find no satisfactory answer. Why does the government hide the real figures from the people? Let this issue be transparent. Compile proper records and let the people know. It looks simple enough.

We have just crossed 49 years of Merdeka and still walk with a 'tongkat', asking for help under the NEP until there is no end. The NEP does create ample opportunities for the majority of the rich people but not so much for the poor. I have lived long enough to see how this programme is being abused by the very own people who call themselves bumiputera.

Banana: With reference to UPM economics lecturer Judhiana Abdul Ghani's comments in the above mentioned article, I think she is absolutely correct, and I quote "...what's most important is to let more bumiputeras acquire that said equity".

As measurements go, I don't think the 30% equity target of the NEP addresses this issue at all. In an extreme example, even if one single bumiputera owns an entire 30% equity, then the target would have been achieved without Judhiana's ideal being fulfilled while if 29.9% of the equity were to be equally shared by all the bumiputera, then the 30% target would still not have been reached, regardless that every bumi would have a share of the pie.

Therefore, should there be a secondary measurement (together with the necessary policies and action plans) in place so that we can achieve the lofty target set by Judhiana?

MO8: Asli had come up with 45% bumiputera equity while the UPM lecturer disputed it and said that the new shares issued are held by a small group of individuals, or GLCs. And the Malay Chambers of Commerce had disagreed with Asli's percentage without giving any reason other than saying that the government report of 18% to 19% should be correct.

Let's first look at the logic of the UPM lecturer's argument. Whose fault is it if the shares are not spread to a wider section of the Malay population? How the cake is divided is left to the government ministries, particularly Miti. If the cake is divided in such a way as to benefit a few people or a few government agencies like the GLCs, why blame the other races?

Another point to note is that 30% of shares be set aside for bumis is a requirement for the listing of new shares. So, what has happened to the 30%? And mind you, new shares have been listed on the stock exchange for decades. Hence, there is no logic for the Malay Chambers of Commerce to state without facts and figures that the 45% quoted by Asli is incorrect.

Yet another point must be borne in mind. Like other shareholders, bumiputera shareholders, from time to time, when prices are good, do sell off their shares and make a profit from them. Are we to conclude that those shares should not be counted in the equation? Speculators and even investors in the world markets, not only in Malaysia, do sell their shares. So, the equity percentage could shift in either direction - up or down - just like the market. Thus, the only way to measure equity is at the point when shares are allotted to individuals and groups.

On Bumi equity: Prof disputes study

LSKong: The prof's response is indicative of the already obvious poor state of the academia in this country. It is especially sad that he is a lecturer in supposedly one of our more prestigious universities, UKM.

By questioning the race of the researcher(s) and/or the organisation that commissioned the study, as opposed to the methodologies used in the study, the credibility or completeness of the data used in the study, etc, Prof Shamsul spoke more like a politician than an academic.

If the esteemed professor from the our esteemed UKM cannot see the irrelevance between the objective(s) of the study and validity of the results and findings, I would go so far to say that he probably should consider a career in practicing politics instead of teaching it. At least, that way he will likely do less damage to the future generations of this nation.

The days when judges were judges first before all things and academics are neutral intellectuals before race and religion have really passed us long time ago. We are definitely more third world than many developing countries in these aspects.

Sadirah K: It is alright for the don to question the research findings but to ultimately discard it on the basis of race is rather unbecoming. To add insult to injury, and to claim that there is an agenda behind this, is grossly unfair. On this basis, all research findings in this country can be questionable. Come on, don, we expect better from you than shooting off the hips without first studying the research.

The Asli's report calls for an independent verification of the study undertaken. With the Statistics Department totally under one race, how can we get an independent evaluation if we are to accept the don's logic!

The bumiputera community has done well under the NEP. They have progressed and it is clear for all eyes that in some areas they have even achieved more than the 30 percent target. However, it may be equally true that there may be areas where they have not reached this target.

Why can't we be honest and express the truth? We can attend to those areas that still need attention. At the same time, we can also help Malaysians of other ethnic origins to achieve certain targets. Why not? The cake is big enough and there is no need to quarrel about it.

Huang: A university lecturer mentioned that he was skeptical of Asli's figures and asked a few questions like who did the survey, why they did it, and what not. He did not give any substance to his argument. Instead, it's all hot air. Bring out your figures if you dispute the findings. Why should you care who did the study.

Are your figures the same as Asli's? Or do they differ? And in what way do they differ? Are both parties using the same measurement?

Is he aware that for every listing of shares, 30% of the shares are reserved for bumiputeras. On top of that, those unsuccessful bumiputera applicants could bid again in the second balloting meant for the general public. This means the bumiputeras have two bites while others have only one.

Whether the 30% bumiputera shares are sold or locked up is anybody's guess. So, are we going to discount those shares sold? If so, there is no argument about 30% bumiputera equity because the situation is fluid: the percentage changes all the time as speculators and investors jump in and out of the stock market. This happens all the time.

Louis Lew: Yet we see another narrow-minded, ethnic-base, emotional-filled response to academic research by a so-call "prof". It is a real reason for us to worry about our higher education institutions filled with "profs" that throw threatening, racially-biased comments. Instead, as an academic, the prof should argue his theory/belief with facts and figures like an academic, not with emotions like politicians.

By providing facts and figures to prove Asli wrong, the prof will help.

  1. Convince the non-Malays that they are not taken for a ride.

  • Inspire the Malays to working harder to achieve the 30% equity.
  • Set example to his students of academic reasoning.
  • Save the country, prof!

    On Supp Youth leads charge against leaders

    Mirian: As a Sarawakian who has only voted for Supp candidates all my life, I would like to say this, even if Supp would not to listen:

    The people of Sarawak like to have a say in who run the city and municipal councils. We want the practice of "rewarding" council positions to political allies to stop. Yes, that includes all political parties in Sarawak.

    If Supp Youth thinks it has a more suitable candidate for the mayor job, let's hear about it. Go tell the people why a Supp man is a better than the man who was selected. And when we are at it, Supp might as well tell us the qualifications of all the current Supp mayors and councillors, beside they being Supp men and women.

    What's wrong with having a technocrat as the new mayor?