The Asian Voice

Malaysia needs to reform its New Economic Policy: Sin Chew Daily contributor

The writer says that Malaysia's 2021 Budget has highlighted growing budgetary deficits and rising debts, and has appeared to be somewhat racial in its thrust.

With Malaysia's Budget 2021 presentation over, it is timely that a Second National Consultative Council be established to provide valuable inputs into the new five-year plan, says the writer. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - I believe that most concerned Malaysians will agree with the clarion call, "to have another system" by Datuk Seri Nasir Razak, in his talk to the Chevening Alumni recently.

He has called for three major reforms: to referee political competition, to have a clear separation of business, government and politics, and to introduce electoral reforms.

But I am sure these reforms are not exhaustive. We can add many more essential reforms including the revision, reform and even preferably the replacement of the old and outdated New Economic Policy (NEP).

The NEP was introduced by Mr Nasir's late illustrious father Tun Abdul Razak just after the tragic May 1969 riots. It was then the right policy and could have benefited our beloved nation much more than it has.

I served under Tun Razak and we understood and found the NEP to be necessary and fair to all at that time. Poverty was to be eradicated regardless of race and the restructuring of the economy was planned to be equitable to all.

But sadly, the NEP was later distorted in its implementation. Although poverty was reduced considerably, there are still serious pockets of dire poverty in many parts of rural Malaysia, especially in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Now other rural and even many urban areas in our country have Malaysians surviving from hand to mouth.

There have been also considerable financial abuses in the process of restructuring. This has led to so much cronyism, corruption, money politics and the callous wastage of public funds as indicated by several Auditor-General reports and the press.

The dreadful Covid-19 virus has exposed this poverty as well as economic and financial mismanagement even more today.

The 2021 Budget has highlighted the growing budgetary deficits and rising debts, and has appeared to be somewhat racial in its thrust.

This is most unfortunate. The question in people's minds is: how long can we go on like this?

Another system: reforms

Polarisation according to race and religion has increased. National unity has declined and there is general despair in the country, particularly over the ugly politicking taking place and frogging becoming the national political pastime!

So, we need to reform the NEP and replace it with another system in order to bring back more hope and confidence in the future and greater national unity!

Thus, we need to follow up with Datuk Seri Nasir Razak's proposal to establish a Second National Consultative Council (SNCC) as soon as possible.

The proposals of this SNCC should not be confined to mainly economic policies but cover all aspects of our future development as Malaysia Baru.

Malaysia Baru will have to outline our future aspirations. Do we want to be a Malaysia for all Malaysians or for only Malays and those who believe in ketuanan?

Should we not provide equal opportunities for all Malaysians based on their basic needs and not on race and religion? The Malays will still benefit most from a fair policy!

In fact, these very policies were envisaged by the late Tun Abdul Razak, and it will be a great tribute to his memory if his able and faithful son Mr Nasir continues with the high standards that his father set for us all, as Malaysians first!

With the Budget 2021 presentation over and the 12th Malaysia Plan in sight, and after 50 years of the NEP, it is timely that a Second National Consultative Council be established to provide valuable inputs into the new five-year plan.

The government will have to hold wide consultations to prepare a new plan that has wide consensus and not be confined to a small group of experts who may not be able to strike the right balance for optimum socioeconomic growth and fair income distribution for all Malaysians.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the Chairman of Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies. The paper is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media titles.

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