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Saturday, July 31, 2010

'Reformist' Khairy defends 'poor rich Malays'


PETALING JAYA, (Harakahdaily) - Barely a fortnight after attacking Malay right wing group Perkasa for being orthodox and veteran UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for being hypocritical, UMNO youth head Khairy Jamaluddin seems to have made an about-turn from his 'reformist' views and criticism of the New Economic Policy.

Khairy, responding to a recent proposal by DAP's Tony Pua to do away with the 7 per cent Bumiputera discount for luxury properties, defended the practice, arguing that Bumiputera entrepreneurs would otherwise only operate their businesses in the outskirts.

The Rembau member of parliament, who could not help taking a poke at Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for his "silence" over the proposal, argued that Bumiputera ownership of commercial premises costing RM2 million and above in urban areas would drop if Pua's suggestion were implemented.

“Statistics in 2007 show that Bumiputera ownership of properties is only 15.7 per cent. For commercial properties, the Bumiputera only own 29.2 per cent for business complexes and as low as 3.5 per cent for industrial premises. These statistics reflect an imbalance that is too obvious,” he wrote in his blog.

During a recent dialogue on Selangor's 2011 budget, Pua, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, suggested to the Selangor state government to stop giving discounts to Malays and other Bumiputeras for houses above RM500,000 and commercial properties above RM2 million, citing that the policy had been ambushed by middlemen to make a quick profit.

He however said the seven per cent discount should be retained for homes below RM500,000.

The suggestion immediately riled up right wing Malay paper Utusan Malaysia, accusing him of questioning Malay rights.

However, supporters of the proposal argue that if one could afford a RM2 million property, there is no need for the discount, which was meant to help poor Malays to own homes.

'They are not rich'

Khairy denied Pua’s claim that properties bought at discounted prices had been sold to brokers at higher prices, saying that the matter had more to do with implementation rather than policy.

Khairy's defence of the 7 per cent discount for expensive properties is likely to shift attention to his own stand on Malay upliftment, with one observer questioning whether the young UMNO leader was also trapped in an economic paradox "with no chicken let alone an egg", borrowing a phrase he recently wrote in an article lashing out at Perkasa.

While many have said that giving such a discount is effectively helping rich Bumiputeras instead of helping their poor brethren, Khairy took pains to defend the policy, arguing that owning a RM2 million property does not mean one is rich.

“Bumiputera entrepreneurs seeking to buy commercial premises worth RM2 million cannot be classified as 'rich', as well as those who want to buy houses costing RM600,000,” he said.

Writing in financial weekly The Edge recently, Khairy described himself as a reformist in wanting to see radical changes, and attacked Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali as an "orthodox" trapped in an economic paradox "with no chicken let alone an egg".

“(Perkasa chief) Ibrahim (Ali) represents the orthodox school, while I bat for the reformists. In a nutshell, he believes that there should be more of the same old affirmative action and I want radical changes to policy instruments that have in part failed in their objective of creating a competitive bumiputera commercial and industrial community (BCIC),” he wrote.

Khairy further wrote that the New Economic Policy should be relegated to the "policy trash can of history”.

The youth head had also locked horns with former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, suggesting that the veteran UMNO leader was stuck in a time-capsule and was not a 'liberal' as he was made out to be through his pro-reform statements.

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