Should politicians continue harping on the NEP? Koon Yew Yin points out that the Malays have made their presence felt in the professions and so there should be less insecurity all round.
I refer to the important speech by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the 2007 Za’ba lecture series on 26 July. That speech should be widely disseminated and made especially available to all politicians, policy makers and leaders of the business and civil service organizations.
In his speech Ku Li rightly emphasised that the NEP was only a temporary “safety net” for Malays as well as others who may have benefited from it. Its intention was not to provide permanent entitlements. Rather those who have become successful should not rely on incentives and privileges handed out by the government. This will not only weaken them but it will also deny others who are in greater need of assistance. Especially noteworthy was his point that “misuse of the assistance was delaying the process of producing learned and knowledgeable Malays”.
In fact, after over 30 years of NEP implementation, many Malays have already graduated and are more than capable of standing on their own merit without the safety net.
Where are the large numbers of successful Malays to be found, some sceptics may ask?
The easiest way to answer this is for the government to make available the statistics on Bumiputera employment in the higher occupational categories and in the professions. Such a table showing Bumiputera achievement was included in the Third Outline Perspective Plan document, 2001-2010.
That table showed that Bumiputras had already comprised 63.5 pert cent of the population for the Professional and Technical Category of employment by the year 2000 and 37 per cent for the Administrative and Managerial Category in the same year.
Similarly an accompanying table on Registered Professionals by ethnicity is revealing. By 1999, Bumiputeras already comprised 28.9 per cent of all Registered Professionals, and exceeded the 30 per cent mark in five of the eight listed professions, viz: doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons, surveyors and lawyers.
The table below shows the great strides that Malays have made as a result of the NEP, bearing in mind that they started from a comparatively low base.
Third Outline Perspective Plan 2001-2010 (p.53)
TABLE 2-8: Achievements in the Restructuring of Society, 1990-2000
Bumiputera Employment in High Occupational Categories
(% of total employment – 1990 and 2000)
Professional and Technical
Administrative and Managerial
Since 1999, the Government has poured even further enormous resources in Malay personnel training so we can expect even higher Malay representation in the most prestigious and well paying professions. So what are these numbers of Malay achievement in the professional, technical, administrative, and managerial categories like today and what are they likely to be projected to the year 2020 if current trends continue?
If this vital information was made publicly available, there will be less talk about Malay under-achievement and less insecurity within the Malay community that they are losing out to the other races. In fact they should be justly proud that they are most probably the majority ethnic community in many highly paid and prestigious occupations.
Finally, I would like to suggest that both a copy of Ku Li’s speech and the updated table be widely disseminated so that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and many other political leaders do not need to harp on the continuance of the NEP. To do so would only frighten away many foreign investors and demoralise our younger non-Malay generation.
Perhaps Aliran and other media outlets can help in this effort to educate our fellow Malaysians on the achievements of the NEP. At the Malaysian Press Awards night on 24 July 07, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said that an informed and knowledgeable society is instrumental in ensuring the success of our aspiration for a united nation, as envisaged by Vision 2020. In line with this, the media can play an important role in garnering the right information for shaping public perception of what the NEP has successfully achieved.
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