I applaud Nazir's consistency in calling for a review and re-examination of the New Economic Policy (NEP).
"My worry is that when the government is trying so hard to help the Bumiputeras, it may hamper and undermine their future and achievements. When you give them contracts and money easily, you are actually undermining the spirit of entrepreneurship.”
I fully support Nazir's observation. Over the last 3 decades, especially in the last 28 years since the Mahathir's administration, contracts were given out to Bumiputera contractors without a proper mechanism to evaluate their performance and progress.
Worse, a huge number of contracts went to the same few companies undermining many other Bumiputera companies. Since 1997, GLCs, mostly run by government nominees, have established their own subsidiaries to move down the value chain and compete for smaller contracts against local SMEs. Consequently, Bumiputera SMEs are not well developed. Less than 30% of all SMEs (595,000 registered companies) are controlled by Bumiputeras.
NEP had lost touch with its main objectives i.e. poverty eradication and socio-economic restructuring of society.
What can we do to help a sustainable empowerment of the Bumiputeras? Nazir added, "We should be spending more on education. And in terms of financing, access to it should be extended, not giving out free financing. This subsidy thing is just not right. You are actually encouraging a subsidy mentality.”
Education is an area which we have not seen much improvement or innovative change. Since 2004, Hishammudin has been largely rhetorical when comes to proper rethink of our education system. Like other ministers of education, Hisham did not have a comprehensive strategy to ensure our diverse education systems can be synergised to complement one another.
At the tertiary level, the appointments of non-Malay vice-chancellors are superficial and will not change their culture. A friend, who is a post-doctoral fellow at a top local university, told me how grants and funds are misused and contributed little to the pool of intellectualism.
If we want to succeed a change of mindset if needed. Weed NEP out of our tertiary institutions and employ the best to teach in them. Hishammudin, with his preoccupation of Keris (a Malay weapon) now behind him, should have more time to spend on reinventing our education system. He should work closely with the Minister of Higher Education.
Nazir sums up: While there is no denying that the NEP had been successful, Nazir questioned its sustainability.
“Is it not the time now to review the policy? Everybody accepts the need for some kinds of affirmative action but it must be implemented in a way that does not undermine economic progress."
"What is important is to apply the correct policies in this day and age. Nowadays, the world is open to just anybody.” he said.
Well said. Are we ready for globalisation and to compete with the world's best?