Monday, December 9, 2013

More preferences will undermine competitiveness – Sin Chew Daily

More preferences will undermine competitiveness – Sin Chew Daily

December 09, 2013

As always, the Umno General Assembly had stressed on the interests of Bumiputeras. For instance, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin pointlessly accused non-Bumiputera enterprises of discriminating against Bumiputera professionals; a Penang party delegate suggested that the 1Malaysia slogan should be changed to 1Melayu, called non-Bumiputeras the "second and third generations of immigrants" and urged the government to review the policy of converting the PTPTN loans into scholarships for first-class graduates as first-class graduates are usually non-Bumiputeras.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin actually responded that the Education Ministry was considering to make non-first class Bumiputeras eligible for incentives and discounts or have their loans converted into scholarships. Various remarks showed us a preference of maintaining the status quo and the unwillingness to reform and innovate, which are very much needed to drive national progress. It is indeed Umno leaders' responsible to defend Bumiputeras' interests but if they just blindly please the group, it will then be a misfortune for the country.

The convertible loan policy is mainly meant to reward graduates with excellent performance and the 67.3% Chinese graduates eligible to have their loans converted into scholarships gained their first-class degree based on their own efforts, with the recognition of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Meanwhile, instead of viewing the problem from a racial perspective and questioning the efforts of Chinese students, the authorities should review and find out why only 23% of Malay graduates are eligible to enjoy the convertible loan policy. Umno leaders should strongly urge Malays to strengthen their efforts in catching up with non-Bumiputeras. How could they make such absurd demands to pander to the group? Safeguarding Malay interests blindly will only continue eroding their competitiveness.

Many extremist remarks were of course meant for grandstanding, but irrational and illogical remarks have actually reflected a strong "walking stick" mentality among Umno delegates. Such a mentality wishing to enjoy privileges while refusing to reflect and reform is not only a major obstacle for the future of the group, but is also not conducive to national economic development.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had expressed his worries over such mentality and said that if they rely on privileges, they will become very weak; and if they use a walking stick, they can never stand. Unfortunately, the group has not only failed to throw the walking stick away but they seem to have been asking for more.

Umno leaders have failed to inculcate the younger generation the mentality to strengthen competitiveness but just keep trying to meet their demands, weakening their competitiveness. This is also why most Bumiputera graduates wish only to be civil servants or work for government-related companies. The fittest survives. It is the basic rules of biological evolution, as well as the survival principals in workplace. Competition is all about ability instead of relationship. Non-bumiputera enterprises see only ability and competitiveness instead of skin colour and race. If Bumiputera professionals are capable, why should they worried about not being appreciated by non-Bumiputera enterprises?

According to the The Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2013, our country was ranked 52nd among the total 65 participating countries, while Singapore was ranked world's second and Vietnam was ranked 17th. Does the government still wish to continue cultivating kampung heroes who are not able to compete on the international arena?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak vowed to be a modernisation promoter when he took over the office in 2009, promising to repeal preferential policies discouraging investment and scaring non-Bumiputeras away.

In September this year, however, Najib announced a series of measures to empower Bumiputera economy and now, he also said during the Umno General Assembly that Bumiputera privileges will be strengthened, requiring all government-related companies to include the Bumiputera economic empowerment agenda into the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). The need of affirmative policies is understandable but racial-based policies regardless of the consequences will cause the country to go backwards. After all, in the tough global competition, Bumiputeras must be self-reliant in order to face new challenges. - Sin Chew Daily, December 9, 2013.

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