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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Zaid: No 'cakes' for underclass in 'upper class' bumi economic congress

Nothing useful or relevant will emerge from the Bumiputera Economic Congress (BEC2024) for the underclass of society, according to Zaid Ibrahim.

He said this is because policies in Malaysia do not cater for the underclass.

According to the former law minister, local governments and municipal councils “go all-out” to cancel licences for numerous reasons.

“Earning a living is hard, but they make it harder,” he said, responding to an article published in Malaysiakini which underlined how the congress could help the underclass.

In a Facebook post, Zaid said the main reason for cancelling licences is the breach of conditions.

“But when you put so many conditions that you know cannot be fulfilled when you issue them, it is easy to revoke them.

“Let’s say the condition is to operate the business yourself. For the upper class, the licence will not be revoked as the government knows the upper class never uses these licences to do business themselves.

“Have you ever heard of timber licences, mining licences, and sand operating licences issued to the upper class being operated by them?” he asked.

Whereas, he said, the underclass who obtain licences to do business in the Selayang market would be punished for making a few hundred ringgit by renting out their licences.

“Let’s say the condition stipulates no foreigners can operate using the licence. How do foreigners come here in millions if it is not for the manoeuvrings of the upper class?

“Yet the underclass will be punished if they rent their premises/licences to these foreigners for a few hundred ringgit a month,” he added.

Therefore, Zaid said the poor and underclass have a bleak future because the upper class is well-entrenched.

Fair share of cake

“Those attending the congress tomorrow come from the upper class.

“They are not about to slice the cake but prefer to grow it,” Zaid said, referring to Second Finance Minister Amir Hamzah Azizan who said the congress aims to improve and grow the “economic pie” for the benefit of the community.

“As we speak, more licences and businesses of the working class will be cancelled or closed due to poor business conditions. But I am sure the situation will be different for the upper class. Their cake will grow for sure,” he added.

The three-day congress, the eighth since 1965, will start today at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).

Yesterday, The Star reported that despite decades of bumiputera-centric policies, statistics showed that the aims of the congress, including ending poverty among Malays and bumiputera and increasing their incomes for them to be on par with other communities, have not been met, although there has been significant progress on the former.

The report noted that in 2022, the median monthly household income for a bumiputera household was RM5,793 while it was RM6,627 for Indian families and RM8,167 for Chinese families.

According to the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), while bumiputera made up 65.1 percent of all households in 2019, 71.4 percent of them were in the B40 or lower income group.

Decades of development programmes to grow bumiputera businesses also failed to yield the desired results, with most remaining at the medium, small, and micro scale. - Mkini

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