NEP under attack: Dr M to the rescue

(FMT) – PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the New Economic Policy (NEP), the controversial socio-economomic restructuring affirmative action programme launched in 1971.

Taking the critics, including Anwar Ibrahim, to task, the former premier said NEP had been denigrated by opposition politicians to the point that it appeared to be the worst policy ever conceived and implemented.

“While (prominent economist) Ramon Navaratnam blames NEP as being the cause of foreign investors not coming to Malaysia, Anwar condemned it for the abuses and corruption involved in its implementation,” he said in a blog posting.

“Anwar loudly proclaims that NEP benefits only the cronies of the government and that the contracts, Approval Permits (APs) and licenses given out under NEP involve corruption.

“He makes it sound as if NEP did not benefit the Malays and other bumiputera at all,” he added.

However, Mahathir admitted that a few of the recipients of APs, contracts and licenses might know the leaders of government or were members of Umno

“And there may be corruption involved in some cases but the charge is not warranted because in most cases, the benefits of NEP has been enjoyed by almost every Malay and bumiputera. In fact indirectly and in some cases directly it has benefited the non-bumiputera as well,” he said.

Giving them education

For example, Mahathir said, every Malay child was helped in his or her education with free text books and often with free meals.

“Schools are built in the remotest areas where before there were no schools. Hostels are built for mostly Malay and other bumiputera children so that they can live a better life and are able to study in better surroundings then in their homes in the villages,” he added.

For the qualified, the former premier noted, tertiary education was readily accessible, with huge numbers of scholarships.

As a result, he said, many of the children of poor families or of families unable to pay high fees, now held university degrees, were highly qualified and many were professionals.

“Before only 5% of the doctors in Malaysia were Malays and bumiputera, now 40% of them are Malays,” the doctor-turned-politician said, adding that it was the same with other professions.

“Just count the number of students in public universities in the country and those abroad on scholarships and one will appreciate how NEP has benefitted the Malays and other bumiputera in education,” he said.