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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ambiga: Parties in power have agenda to keep people poor

Former president of Malaysian Bar says poverty and racial politics are carefully constructed agendas to keep certain quarters in control over the people.
Ambiga-Sreenevasan-poorKUALA LUMPUR: Human rights lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan has accused certain quarters holding the reins of power in Malaysia, of deliberately keeping people in poverty to make them believe they are dependent on those ruling over them.
“When you are poor you are very susceptible to fear, and those in power can easily keep their grasp on power by telling you that you are dependent on them and by giving you the occasional handout,” she said.
The former Malaysian Bar president said although the New Economic Policy (NEP), implemented in 1971 as an affirmative action programme was meant to get Malays out of poverty, there were still many Malays in the category.
“Why is there still poverty among the Malays? Many of them are still very poor.
“They are poor because it suits the agenda of some to keep them that way,” she claimed in her speech at a forum titled “Envisioning the Future Beyond GE14” held at Connexion at Nexus, Bangsar South City here today.
Ambiga, who is also former chairman of the election reform group Bersih, added that the Malays were not the only ones experiencing poverty as others like the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, were also affected.
She said those in power did not care about the plight of minority groups that were contributing to the prevalence of poverty among their people.
She added that racial politics was also a similarly carefully constructed agenda. “It’s been around for a long time and it works,” she said.
In August, Singapore daily The Straits Times reported that abolishing affirmative action for Bumiputeras would be politically impossible as many Umno leaders and Malays still felt they needed it.
Several prominent Malays have since then spoken up against continuing policies promoted under the NEP, including Centre for Global Affairs Malaysia (Icon) president Abdul Razak Baginda and activist lawyer Azhar Harun.
Azhar said he was for affirmative action but the NEP had failed to deliver its objectives because of the manner in which it had been enforced.
There was also a general consensus among non-politicians, who have commented that it would be politically suicidal for any politician to criticise the NEP. -FMT

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