Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Najib, Meritocracy, Quotas & The NEP

At a dinner organised by the MCA and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM), the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has not only announced a new “National Scholarship” category that will be based on merit, but more importantly he had also hinted at removing quotas in all economic sectors in Malaysia by admitting that “having quotas is not the right way and is not good for Bumiputeras”.

We fully supports all efforts to improve the economic livelihood of all poor bumiputeras and Malaysia, and believe that the quota system as has been implemented under BN's New Economic Policy (NEP) has failed the bumiputeras for it has promoted a rent-seeking culture, and entrenched cronyism and corruption among its politically connected beneficiaries.

Therefore, we are willing to provide full support to the Prime Minister to eliminate the inefficient and ineffective NEP quota system, and in its place promote meritocracy, not only for scholarships, but in all sectors including education and the economy. The policy on meritocracy should be complemented with an affirmative action policy based on needs, and not race.

However, the goodwill and sincerity of Najib's statement is put to question when on the very same evening, his Deputy Prime Minister, continued to stir Malay racial sentiments with the clarion call that “Umno will fight to the last drop of blood to protect Malay rights” in his speech in Pagoh, Johor. Taken together with the Prime Minister's own persistence in Malay and Muslim unity talks with PAS, raises the question as to whether the Barisan Nasional government is continuing the policy of singing a different song to a different racial audience.

This divide and rule concept also clearly flies in the face of the 1Malaysia concept being preached by Najib, as UMNO continues to place Malay unity and Malay rights above everything else under its “ketuanan Melayu” concept where all other BN component parties and ethnic groups are subjugated to the authority of UMNO.

We would like to call upon the Prime Minister to put his words into action by delivering a Ministerial statement in Parliament to call for the removal of the quota-based New Economic Policy and to replace it with a New Economic Agenda which promotes meritocracy and a needs-based affirmative action policy to help all poor, regardless of race, creed or religion.

I'm sure Pakatan Rakyat will give the Prime Minister our full support in Parliament to ensure that such a New Economic Agenda bill is approved as the new economic paradigm for Malaysia. We believe that a just, fair and equitable economic foundation will serve the interest of all Malaysians and will be the best approach to improve the competitiveness, competence and livelihood of the bumiputeras.
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