Mukhriz stands firm on NEP

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Mukhriz Mohammad today stressed that he will defend the New Economic Policy (NEP) even though the government plans to liberalise the country’s economy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had recently announced that the government will be lifting the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity requirement for 27 sub-sectors in the services industry as part of Malaysia’s commitments to international trade agreements.

This, however, has left some in the Malay community worried that the NEP will be abolished.

“I feel that we should not be too nervous that the New Economic Policy will bit by bit be loosened. I am one of those who have always promoted NEP before I become a minister.

“So it is certain that I will defend (the NEP) because I truly believe that this policy has brought development to all of us and even though it specifically benefits the Malays but the rewards can be experienced by all, Malays or non-Malays,” he said.

NEP is a controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the prime minister’s late father Tun Abdul Razak in 1971. The programme was aimed at closing the economic gap between the Malays and Chinese but many have argued that the NEP has only benefited a few.

Mukhriz promised that the NEP will not be ignored but would continue to be prioritised by government.

“Therefore I ask those who are worried that the NEP will no longer be prioritized with the liberalisation of our market, we will always continue prioritizing the NEP and at the same time, I am confident that there will be more new opportunities not only in terms of employments when the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) comes into our country,” he added.

Mukhriz told reporters that local companies are prepared to face foreign competitors as the country’s market is already open.

“The response we get from them is that actually our market is already open but the policies are not in accordance with it. That is what is being done by the government, to make our policies in accordance with our practice.

“That is why they are ready to face this challenge and at the same time, NGOs representing the service sector ask the government to continue helping local companies so that they will able to compete with foreign companies and that we are not only able to export our products but also services,” he explained.

The International Trade Minister was earlier present to launch the Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Forum and Expo organised by Perdasama in PWTC.

He told the audience that the government expects the economy to perform better in the second half of the year as the fiscal stimulus package will take effect and that the government has put in place several measures to counter the global recession.

“The government has adopted pro-active fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the slowdown of the Malaysian economy.