Home Civil Society Voices Can we improve the implementation of bumiputra policies?

Can we improve the implementation of bumiputra policies?

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Is it not now the right time now to review the quality of the implementation of all these past policies and especially their abuses, writes Ramon Navaratnam.

The Prime Minister of the new Pakatan Harapan government, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, rightly gave a firm assurance in Parliament on 14 August that the government would uphold the special position and rights of Malays and the special position of the natives in Sabah and Sarawak and the ethnic rights of other groups, according to our Constitution.

He added clearly that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is empowered to protect three areas that are special to the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, namely the public service, the economy and education.

He was replying to a parliamentary question from the BN MP for Lenggong, Samsul Anuar Nasarah. He further outlined the special areas of protection – as in “jobs in the public sector, the giving of scholarships and the issuance of permits or licences, under federal laws”.

Indeed all this is right and proper under our present Constitution, but has the time come to Improve the implementation of bumi policies, to make the attainment of the goals more effective and fair to all?

Review the implementation of policies

The question that now rises is, whether, after 61 years of questionable BN government and performance, which was rejected by the Malaysian voters in the historic 2018 general elections, is it not now the right time to review the quality of the implementation of all these past policies and especially their abuses?

Firstly, let’s examine jobs in the public service. We all recognise that we have a bloated public service that has, as the prime minister now claims, declined in efficiency and effectiveness over the years of BN rule. This is partly because the civil service has lost much of its former multicultural composition. How effective can any civil service anywhere be in serving the public and national interest, when it is not fully representative of the people it serves. How empathetic can it be?

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Will there not be more inbreeding in the civil service culture, as the civil service becomes more monolithic. Where would be the necessary internal checks and balances and how would there be more competition with the rise in internal protection and favouritism?

Hence the new Pakatan Harapan government would need to improve the racial and religious composition of the public service as soon as possible, if we want to progress at a faster pace.

Perhaps some kind of quota system is now essential, as the old systems of recruitment and promotion have not worked well!

Secondly, with regard to the giving of scholarships and training, please be more fair in the distribution among our many races.

This is a major source of frustration for all students, even bumi students who are from poor homes. Often, in the past, wealthy bumi students are known to have won scholarships over their underprivileged bumi and non-bumi brothers and sisters.

This is the kind of the abuse of the bumi policy in the past. There has to be more justice, as taught by all our religions and human values, by being fair to all bright and poor Malaysian students, regardless of race and religion, to promote real national unity.

Thirdly, the issuance of permits and licences have also been abused in the past. The most qualified bumis have not always been given licences and permits according to merit.

Often, unqualified and under-qualified bumis who were political friends and allies were give permits. This led to more corruption and cronyism and a wastage of our national resources and productivity and competitiveness. The liberal award of approved permits is a case in point. How many rich bumis were created who did not advance further than being mere rentiers and easy going traders.

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We have all sacrificed to help build a bumi entrepreneurial class. But where are most of the best qualified bumi businessmen and women today? They are mostly in secure government-linked companies, earning big salaries, without taking much business risk. So can they develop and grow as real entrepreneurs?

Under permits and licences, we can also include tenders and contracts that often were awarded to inept bumi contractors. They usually subcontract the tenders to non-bumi contractors. The consequent squeeze in profits, often led to more corruption, lower standards of performance and much more inefficiency.

All this abuse led to rising costs and higher prices, which the poor consumers had to bear. No wonder they reacted in the 2018 general election!

So we all hope that the new PH government will remove these abuses and help the genuine bumi businessmen and women from now on. Then even the non-Malays will be happier that special rights are being properly implemented.

And what is wrong in providing more contracts to able and efficient non-Malay businessmen and women, especially those who can form joint enterprises among all races to improve the effectiveness in the implementation of bumi policies.


After 61 years of BN rule, many if not most Malaysians believe that bumi policies, especially the implementation of these bumi policies, should definitely be improved.

This will be in the best interests of the whole country and especially the bumis, many of whom have suffered and lost out because of the kind of abuses practised in the past, as mentioned above.

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Mahathir has rightly suggested that “any proposed amendments on this (use of Bahasa Malaysia in the public sector) needs to be discussed and get the agreement of the Conference of Rulers, in line with Articles 159 and 38 of the Constitution”.

I think all Malaysians will agree that the prime minister and his new government should be strongly supported by the rakyat and all voters in his proposal and make the necessary amendments to move forward for greater progress.


I would also propose that a review of the implementation of all bumi and related policies should be undertaken as a matter of priority to ensure that the bumis and other races and religions are protected and are able to advance, as envisaged in our Constitution and in the spirit of our founding fathers.

This will be the main way to enable the new Malaysia, under the PH government, to become great again.

Selamat Hari Malaysia dan Malaysia baharu!

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