MOST Malaysians, especially the bumiputras, will welcome the statement made by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in the Channel News Asia interview recently that “Affirmative Action is still needed to bridge the gap and avoid conflict between bumiputras and other races”.
This has been the policy adopted in our socio-economic planning and implementation since the New Economic Policy was introduced in 1970.
However, the socio-economic scenario has improved considerably over time. The Affirmative Action has significantly reduced the risks of conflicts that can be caused by socio-economic and wealth disparities.
Today the gaps between the bumiputras and Chinese and many others have been largely narrowed.
The greater challenge now is the growing gap in incomes, standards of living and the quality of life of the rich and poor between Malaysians of all races and also within ethnic groups. There are very poor Malays, Chinese, Indians and other Minority Groups all over Malaysia! It’s more a national issue and not confined to any racial group as such!
Appeal to PM
Thus many Malaysians, regardless of race, l therefore appeal to the prime minister and his able Cabinet, and the wise Council of Eminent Persons, to review and revise the NEP, to adopt and adapt to the new socio-economic and political realities, after their most impressive and welcome electoral victory.
The economic disparities or socio-economic gaps are based more on income disparities rather than race differences. Since we are blessed with a new government after 61 years of the same government, this is the New Malaysia Era (Malaysia Era Baru). Therefore we will need to express the vast political tsunami, and see change in more practical socio-economic terms for a better future.
Hence, the new government will need to adopt more socio-economic policies that are income based and related to fulfilling the basic needs and human rights of all Malaysians. Our new policies need to be founded on our sincere conscience and religious values of fairness and fraternity, for all Malaysians.
We can no longer afford to be exclusive, but have to be inclusive in all our policies and implementation, for all Malaysians and not only to some exclusive groups to benefit from our future national development. We now have to be much more inclusive in all our policies and practices or we will revert to past policies and practices, which were rejected by the voters!
New Malaysia Economic Policy (NMEP)
Indeed, the new government in the new Malaysia could devise and introduce a New Malaysia Economic Policy (NMEP) that will contribute to a more genuine and sustainable national unity. The previous NEP had, unfortunately and regretfully, caused much national division, disparities and disunity, not only between our races, but also within the bumiputra/Malay and other racial and minority groups, all over the country.
While we would follow the advice of the prime minister to accept that Affirmative Action is still needed in Malaysia, we fervently hope that our new government will now ensure, more than ever before, that all Malaysians, regardless of race, who deserve Affirmative Action treatment, will enjoy the new Affirmative Action.
This new Affirmative Action should be meant for all deserving Malaysians, based on basic needs, not race. Most Malays/bumiputras would also gain by this needs based affirmative action policy, while the poor non-Malays would also benefit from the new and revised NEP.
This New Malaysia Economic Policy is essential, in order to promote greater national unity and a more peaceful, prosperous, progressive and happier New Malaysia (Malaysia Baru).
We pray that the Almighty will bless and guide the new government leaders, to be fair to all Malaysians and especially all the poor and underprivileged Malaysians.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Court of Emeritus Fellow, MIM
Asli Center of Public Policy Studies
This article first appeared in Thesundaily’s Letter’s section on 27 June 2018.