A new needs-based plan must be reflected in our coming Budget and the economic plans that follow, writes Ramon Navaratman.
For a long time, there has been growing concern over the need to revise or even remove the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was adopted in 1971 after the infamous May 13 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 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 ethnicties and religions.
This is because:
- it is inherently unjust and immoral to discriminate against some races because they are not Malay or bumiputeras
- the poor are poor regardless of ethnicity and religion; and so any separate or different treatment will create and aggravate polarization and disunity – as it has already done so
- Malaysians who are poor will lose their patriotism and sense of belonging, if they are not treated like equal citizens
But when can we implement this new Malaysian economic policy?
Now that Putrajaya’s chief advisor Daim has spoken, when can we see a concrete plan for its introduction and see a schedule for implementation?
It must not be just a matter of mere public announcements and the expression of good intentions without real follow-up action.
The change in our affirmative action policy has been long overdue – so now there could be still concern as to whether this 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 bumiputeras 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 recessionary trends are rising all over the world – and in Malaysia too.
A fitting celebration
It is wonderful that both Daim and Anwar have come out clearly to push for a needs-based economic policy.
It will strengthen Mahathir’s prosperity-sharing policy, which he wishes to promote in our socioeconomic planning.
This new needs-based plan must be reflected in our coming Budget and the economic plans that follow.
Most importantly, there should be a plan for implementing a new Malaysia economic policy – which will definitely benefit the bottom 40% of Malaysians of all ethnicities and religions in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sararwak.
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 coming independence celebrations.
Selamat Hari Merdeka!