Home TA Online 2013 TA Online Bumiputera agenda, Malay agenda … BUT what we need – an agenda...

Bumiputera agenda, Malay agenda … BUT what we need – an agenda for all poor Malaysians

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What sort of message to a nation endowed richly with racial and religious difference, is the PM and his government sending to all Malaysians, wonders Patricia Martinez.

Photograph: thesundaily.my
Photograph: thesundaily.my

I resisted posting earlier on this New Bumputera Agenda from Najib, to replace the NEP, which morphed into the NDP and now is back under a different title.

I wanted to think carefully about it, in terms of what I feel and believe for our nation. Here is the gist of my reflections:

1. I am not sure why the critical coverage by most media and reactions is about how Najib’s image as a reformer will be dented, especially abroad. Perhaps speaking outright about race is dangerous again or still. But, more importantly, we must speak up. Not to reject anything positive wholesale, but to ask critical questions.

2. I do think Najib lost credibility a long a while ago anyway, especially with his own people, Malaysians, not just Malays

3 I have stated this over the years: although very young but into reading newspapers and politics (I remember asking my father what ‘rape’ was and he almost fell of his chair), I remember that:

I supported the NEP. I come from a rural area in Perak. I was conscious even as a child: Malays were poor. And I supported the NEP because it had two prongs, the second one: eradication of poverty irrespective of race. That’s not been “addressed”, has it?

The abject poverty of Indians on estates (I was raised on one for part of my life) appalled me, even though we were isolated in a lovely bungalow on the estate. My parents made sure we saw how “the labourers'” children live.

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I have been to Sabah and Sarawak a number of times for over 20 years. I don’t see ‘quaint culture’ and ‘natives’: I see people who have little voice and many so desperately poor and innocent that they are grateful just for paltry handouts once in five years.

4. But abuses, warts and all, the NEP has given us an educated, solid Malay middle class. That is justice. That ensures ethnic peace (although more and more Malaysians know, despite Umno/ Tanda Putera’s best efforts, it wasn’t so much about poor Malays revolting. As the archival papers published by Kua Kia Soong and others who have written about May 13 1969 show, it was more about a weak and disenfranchised government after the elections taking steps to secure power – whatever way that meant.

5. So, with all of this as context, why is this new sweeping policy for Malays only? Let’s be honest: the word “bumiputera” is being invoked, but it is about helping Malays: like the NEP, the bumiputera natives of Sabah and Sarawak will ultimately get little.

As a retired Statistics Department senior officer told me, whenever they want to talk about poverty, they use the word “bumiputera” to include the poverty statistics of the native Sabahans and Sarawakians. Whenever they want to talk about supremacy, elitism, difference …. they talk about Malays.

6. But it cannot be denied: there are still poor Malays. But also poor bumiputera natives. And poor Indians. And poor Chinese. And poor Lain Lain in the tourist trap called the Portuguese settlement.

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There are now generations of young Malaysians who have not experienced affirmative action, but discrimination to effect affirmative action against them – depriving many of all of their right to a good university education … the best way upwards and out of poverty.

And there is also that common term, “Umnoputras” who have benefitted from the abuses of the NEP.

6. So why this non-inclusive ‘Agenda’ now? UMNO GA coming up?

7. Has the indifference to us all in our beloved nation reached abusive levels, just to hold on to power?

Malaysia Day has just passed.

What sort of message to a nation endowed richly with racial and religious difference, is the PM and his government sending to all Malaysians?

Dr Patricia Martinez is a scholar based in the Klang Valley.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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Ed G
Ed G
24 Sep 2013 12.54pm

NEP, NDP, or whatever it is called, will continue to be in existence as long as this country is being ruled by a coalition with a supremely dominant race-based party. It is obvious that the raison d’etre of this listless party and thus the survival of its corrupted leadership rest purely on the support of a particular race-group. Therefore, these so-called affirmative actions will continue to be peddled with new names and abbreviations as proves that the party and its leadership is still at the forefront in championing of the rights and interest of the represented race; never mind that the new actions are just old wine in new bottles or that the other race-groups would be sidelined in the process. And as for Najib, he will be hard-pressed to reconcile this new action/policy with his 1Malaysia clarion call or National Transformation Plan (NTP), especially on the global platform. And, of course, all the skeptics and critics of these policies can take the consolation of being right from the beginning.

Jayanath Appudurai
24 Sep 2013 12.11pm

Agreed we need an inclusive Malaysian Agenda.
FYI, the Social Inclusion Act 2012 proposed by SABM-HAKAM and supported by 30 CSOs was ignored by political parties from both sides of the divide despite many attempts to engage them. Details at link below:-

We can only guess that politicians publicly eschew the politics of identity but privately cling on to it for survival!

najib manaukau
24 Sep 2013 7.52am

The turncoat Najib isn’t interested to help anyone, this include the Malays, he is out there screaming to help the Malays again for his own popularity. He is doing so just to show he is trying to help the Malays because the coming Umno meeting to select the president. How come it took him after so many years in the government to implement this policy ? If he had done that who would be there to object to such a good proposal and also why did it take so long for him to come up with such a good proposal ? Or is he admitting that his NEM (Never Enough Money) has failed to achieve the aim of it very badly, especially after 44 years. Even his father the late Tun Rajak, who came up with this idea believed that 30 years should have been enough to achieve the proposal. But now after more than 44 years, especially so when 50% of the time when it was under the egregious Mahathir, very little has been achieved. Will this also happen to this proposal or another excuse… Read more »

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