Pakatan Harapan must acknowledge government shortcomings, says Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a plenary session in Singapore on April 26, 2019. He says the race-based New Economic Policy failed to address poverty even among the Malay community. PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim wants the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to recognise the failures of policies and the need to review several fundamental programmes.

Citing the race-based New Economic Policy (NEP), Datuk Seri Anwar said the initiative failed to address poverty even among the Malay community.

The NEP sets aside quotas in universities, government jobs and housing for the majority Malays and other bumiputera races to quickly reduce their poverty rate.

"Our policies have been proven to be wrong or have fundamental flaws. Abject poverty remains. There has been social mobility, but overall, we need a major review," he said in his speech at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KLSICCI) 90th anniversary dinner last Saturday (Sept 7).

"There is still grinding poverty, and it's worse for the Malays, Indians living in estates and rural areas. We must acknowledge this and review fundamental programmes," he said.

Mr Anwar said the government, particularly Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and the Economy Planning Unit, should recognise these weaknesses.

"One of the greatest disasters are failures of policies when you get the diagnosis wrong. You have a bad injury in the left leg and you get the right amputated," he said.

Citing the findings of United Nations human rights expert Philip Alston, who dismissed Malaysia's claim to having the world's lowest national poverty rate, Mr Anwar who is the Port Dickson MP, said he was not surprised.

"I found great difficulty to swallow that too. In any village in Port Dickson you go, be it Malay villages, Indian estates or Chinese fishing villages and that of the Orang Asli, all of them register much greater figures of poverty.

"What Alston has done, notwithstanding some misgivings, is not shocking to me. It's only shocking to those who have a clear disconnect. The caucus on reform is on the government," he said, adding that one must learn from why the previous Barisan Nasional government was rejected in last year's watershed general election.

"In our case, it was partly because of racist policies, condoning religious bigotry. We came out rejecting racial and religious bigotry."

Mr Anwar said Malaysia must move on to a new economic agenda based on need, which includes the need for the country to grow.

"Obsolete policies are based on race. We need new policies based on need," he said, adding that chambers of commerce must undertake programmes transcending race.

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