Saturday, September 3, 2011

The NEP and the downfall of Malays | Free Malaysia Today

The NEP and the downfall of Malays

Mariam Mokhtar | September 2, 2011-FMT

The NEP may have caused an increase in the wealth of the Malay urban middle class but on the whole, many Malays remain poor.


Dr Mahathir Mohamad came to the defence of the New Economic Policy (NEP) when economist Ramon Navaratnam and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim condemned the NEP for discouraging foreign investment and for promoting corruption.

However, Mahathir failed to note that the NEP, like many of the government’s other programs with catchy, meaningless acronyms are only publicity stunts which fail to address the underlying problems that face many Malaysians, principally the Malays.

He said: “There may be corruption involved in some cases but the charge is not warranted because in most cases, the benefits of NEP have been enjoyed by almost every Malay and bumiputera. In fact, indirectly and, in some cases, directly it has benefited the non-bumiputera as well.”

The former prime minister’s selective amnesia serves him well. The NEP’s short-term benefits may have impressed his Cabinet colleagues but in the long term, the NEP has disadvantaged all other Malaysians.

The warped policies have destroyed racial harmony and in East Malaysia, the bumiputeas are more desperate than ever. There is increasing resentment against the Malays who many believe, have squandered the benefits they have been given.

The NEP may have caused an increase in the wealth of the Malay urban middle class but on the whole, many Malays remain poor.

Despite the housing privileges and discounts, how many Malays can afford to buy houses? How many possess the business acumen to sustain a business without going bust in the first year?

Undeniably, those who benefit the most are Umno cronies, whilst the majority of Malays remain marginalised, hoping that things will get better, only because Umno says so.

Thus, many live in hope and some shun jobs because one day, they hope to become rich without putting in any effort.

The business incentives may have given the Malays a kick-start in life but many did not use them wisely. They did not reinvest the money in the company but instead spent it on the teak desk, the gold watch and the Mercedes car.

It was not just his work that was a sham. His private life was just the same. There was no personal responsibility and those Malays who entered into polygamous marriages with two or three families to support, invariably ended up with dysfunctional families. The kids would be feral, without a father figure and no rĂ´le model in their lives.

Many of the children do not have a family life to speak of and education is not an important factor in their lives. Many grow up lacking aspiration and become adults who are just as irresponsible.

There are some decent people amongst this lot, but they are trapped in the system, with no way out.

Moving forward together

Mahathir claimed that under the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) scheme, the settlers were much better off with higher incomes and children who were better educated.

He failed to note that there were serious issues that have cropped up. Few of the children of the original Felda settlers want to make a living off the land like their grandparents or parents did.

The social problems are many and Mahathir may have praised the businesses and jobs that the children and women have gone into, but none of these are to do with the land.

They are things like tailoring or aircraft maintenance, which are totally unconnected to Felda.

It would have meant more if some of the children had diversified into the downstream oleo industry like soap making, bio-diesel fuels or some other small-scale cottage industry from the palm oil that they produce on their farms.

Mahathir said: “The settlers have much higher incomes while their children are much better educated. All these are due to NEP”.

Like the NEP, Mahathir has not addressed the problem of what happens to the small holding of the Felda settler as his children have no desire to carry on the tradition and many farmers resort to hiring foreign workers to make a success of the land.

Projects like the NEP are doomed to fail. Most important of all, the Malays will get a hammering from the other races and very few people will appreciate the efforts of the Malays who have struggled on their own to achieve their ambitions.

How many more stupid acronyms must the Malaysians endure? When will this government realise that helping only one section of the community is detrimental to the nation, as a whole?

As a society, the Malays must accept that we must move forwards as one nation. That means that we include the other races in our policies.

The system that our leaders have implemented for us isn’t working.

Not if making it easier for the Malays means never having to learn to do things the hard way, never having to take responsibility for themselves and not having to follow the rules that most of us have to go by.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr Kula,

    I am a voter in your constituency. It has come to my attention that you are in support of the conversion of a Hindu burial ground into a public crematorium. Was this land not given to the Ipoh Tamils in 1919 by the British?

    The Management of the temple in Buntong is merely a caretaker for a land that has over generations been used as a Hindu burial ground. Why is the management therefore making a decision without a referendum and support from the Tamilians in Ipoh?

    As a Hindu, Tamil and registered voter in Ipoh, I would like the opportunity to voice my opinion. I am NOT in support of giving up land that should effectively be used for carrying out the final rites and rituals in a manner respectful of Hindu customs and beliefs.

    Your thoughts and views on this matter would be truly appreciated.

    Thank you.