Prominent economist Edmund Terrence Gomez has questioned the government’s decision to go back to implementing affirmative action for Bumiputeras when this policy had failed to produce the desired results.
While saying it was acceptable if the government wanted to fall back on the race-based policy, he stressed that this needs to be debated to ensure its effectiveness.
He said Mahathir himself had openly admitted in 2003 that his Bumiputera policy had failed before he stepped down during his first tenure as prime minister.
“Have we really had a thoughtful and serious debate about how to make it work if we still want to keep it? Are there avenues we can use?
“If you want to find a mix, okay, let’s find a mix. But what is that mix? They haven’t decided that yet.
“Instead, the policy recommendations that are coming out are exactly like what we saw in the 1980s and 1990s.
“All I’ve seen in the Shared Prosperity Vision policy is a dichotomy between the Bumiputeras and the non-Bumiputeras again. There are no real ideas on how to get it right.
“If a policy has failed in the past, why are we repeating the same policies again?” he asked during a panel discussion at the Youth Economic Conference here today.
Malay Economic Action Council CEO Ahmad Yazid Othman, who was also on the panel, had highlighted that major corporations like YTL and Berjaya Group had not done anything to help Bumiputeras.
This drew a reply from Gomez, who asked if prominent Bumiputera corporate figures such as Halim Saad, Tajuddin Ramli, Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir and Samsudin Abu Hassan had done anything for the Malay community.
He emphasised that businesses were not set up for social work but are profit-motivated, adding that businesses would go bankrupt if they totally focused on helping a particular community or cause.
“So let’s get these facts right. If businesses are for profit, I’m not going to force you to do social work because I know that they cannot take these kinds of risks.
“And their primary interest will be the well-being of the company because they need to ensure that their companies can grow.”
Source : FMT