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Saturday, August 5, 2017

NEP hijackers blamed for Malay divide

Activist Art Harun says there are Malays who get richer and richer and Malays who remain poor but are addicted to affirmative action.
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PETALING JAYA: The hijacking of the New Economic Policy (NEP) by the politically powerful has led to the creation of two kinds of Malays: the elite minority who keep getting richer and the poorer majority who are addicted to the policy.
This is according to activist lawyer Azhar Harun, who was commenting on a recent article in the Singapore Straits Times that said the NEP, introduced in 1971, had led to “a sense of entitlement” among many Malays and their leaders.
Azhar, who is better known as Art Harun, said this sense of entitlement could be associated only with those holding political power and their cronies.
“On the other side of the coin are the hardcore poor Malays who I don’t think feel a sense of entitlement because they get nothing,” he told FMT. “They get chicken feed but they are addicted to it nonetheless and they cannot survive without it.”
Art noted that according to the Federal Constitution, Malays and other Bumiputeras would be given special treatment “as the king deems reasonable”.
“Perhaps the time has come for us to revisit this reasonableness,” he said.
“For all you know, in 2017, after much study, we may form the opinion that 30% is not enough and that it should be increased to 35%. Or for all you know, it should be decreased to 15%.” He was referring to the NEP’s target percentage of Bumiputera ownership of the national wealth.
“The point is to find out what is reasonable in 2017. And when Article 153 of the constitution says the king must ensure all these things, you have to ask how the king does this. The constitution says the king acts on advice. Advice from whom? The prime minister or the cabinet?
“So it is really incumbent upon the cabinet to decide the degree of reasonableness. That’s how it is supposed to work.
“Instead, the NEP has been hijacked by political agenda, cronyism, nepotism and Ali Babaism. So it doesn’t work.”
Art said the insincerity of those entrusted with implementing Article 153 had caused the Malays to lose their competitive edge.
“Let’s say we open all university entrances today based only on merit. How many Malays do you think will be able to enter university?”
He said the failure of Proton Holdings Berhad was a reflection of the Malays’ lack of the competitive spirit. “Proton cannot compete because it is full of cronies who have been awarded contracts and who, on their own, cannot compete.”
Art stressed that he was not against affirmative action, adding that many advanced countries, including the United States, had implemented similar policies successfully.
“When I say things like this, people twist it and say I’ve asked for Article 153 to be revisited, to be abolished. No, I never said that. In fact, I’m a supporter of affirmative action.
“I think Article 153 was well-intentioned. The problem is that the policy we have in order to implement 153 has been implemented wrongly.”
Officially the term of the NEP ended in 1990. However, much of it remain in effect through other governmental policies. -FMT

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