29
Apr
09

Sinchew: Is it bye-bye 30% bumi equity for good?

Without this “30%,” perhaps Malaysian companies could emerge more energetic, the ecomomy could grow faster, the Malays could be more competitive, and non-Malays could be less dejected and unsatisfied.

By TAY TIAN YAN/Translated by CHONG CIEW JU/Sin Chew Daily

Don’t know since when Malaysia has become a country of “30%.”

To set up a company, we must have 30% bumiputra equity; to list a company on the stock market, we must have 30% bumiputra equity; and to bid for a government project, we also must have 30% bumiputra equity.

All these are done in the name of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

Having said that, “reserved 30% bumiputra equity” has never actually been gazetted in the 1971 New Economic Policy.

The objectives of the NEP were: to eliminate poverty regardless of race; and to restructure the society and do away with the identification of race according to economic activity.

There is no problem with the policy itself, and the guiding principle is absolutely correct.

But, in the executive orders that follow, the very crude ‘30%” has been universally employed to achieve the targets of NEP.

Government officials hold dearly to the “30%” to slice up the economy. They pick up their parangs, axes and electric saws and chop up the companies into pieces.

Politicians and those with good relations with the government are fast grabbing this “30%” bounty. Without having to put in the slightest effort or making any real contribution at all, they unashamedly share the 30% benefits.

“Without the bondage of this “30%,” Malaysia could absolutely be a more united, harmonious and progressive country.”

As such, many companies which are vibrant, innovative and with great prospects are either nibbed in the bud or left struggling for mere survival.

In order to achieve the 30% target, the country has paid a hefty price over the past few decades.

Many local and foreign investors would rather dump their money elsewhere than to have their 30% plundered. Many companies choose not to expand their businesses lest they are put into the restructuring list, while others have to reluctantly swallow the 30% equity arrangement, making compromises in their company equity, management and vibrancy.

The majority of the Malay community has not really benefited from the 30% bumiputra equity policy, which benifits only a handful of privileged individuals, allowing these privileged few to take the lion’s share of the benefits. This has further widened the gap between the haves and haves-not within the Malay community itself while creating entrenched class confrontation.

Without this “30%,” perhaps Malaysian companies could emerge more energetic, the ecomomy could grow faster, the Malays could be more competitive, and non-Malays could be less dejected and unsatisfied.

Without the bondage of this “30%,” Malaysia could absolutely be a more united, harmonious and progressive country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has started to lift this bondage which has enslaved Malaysians for nearly four decades, allowing Malaysians to feel instantly invigorated and relieved.

But to be truly emancipated, more “30%” needs to be lifted. Besides, we must also keep an eye on non-compliance in our bureaucratic system as well as backlash from the vested interests.


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