The Chinese and Indians screwed up

There is some chatter going on in the Internet regarding the New Economic Policy (NEP) so I thought that maybe I would address this issue. Some readers, however, have said they are incapable of reading my 3-4-page articles. Some say they only read the titles and then start posting comments based on the title. For the sake of these people who want to read brief articles, today I shall try to be as brief as possible.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In 1981, Tun (then Dato’ Seri) Dr Mahathir Mohamad took over as Malaysia’s Fourth Prime Minister.

Soon after he took office he invited members of the Malay and Chinese Chambers of Commerce for dinner at the Equatorial Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. He then placed five Malays and five Chinese at each table for ten and made us all sit alternate to one another.

Dr Mahathir then told the Malays that the NEP had run for more than 11 years and had less than nine years to go before it ended. And, as promised, it will end in 1990 because it is not fair to the non-Malays to extend it beyond 20 years. Hence the Malays need to be prepared to face this day.

Dr Mahathir also told the Chinese that they would need to work with the Malays and help them achieve the aspirations of the NEP so that the government can end the NEP in 1990 as planned. If the NEP ended far short of the target, then this might create a lot of dissatisfaction, which is not good for the stability of the country when one race harbours a grudge against another.

In 1991, Dr Mahathir proposed that the Third Bumiputera Economic Congress be held at the PWTC where the various races, political parties from both Barisan Nasional and the Opposition, Malay-Chinese-Indian Chambers of Commerce, associations, societies, movements, NGOs, etc., could sit down for three days to discuss the ending of the NEP and how the government should face the post-NEP era and address the various short-comings in the social reengineering experiment of 1970-1990.


At this Congress, which was held in January 1992, the audience was shocked by the public quarrel between Anwar Ibrahim, the then Finance Minister, and Rafidah Aziz, the Trade and Industry Minister. These two Ministers plus the other members of the Cabinet could not agree on a common policy.

The non-Malay members of the Congress, in particular the Chinese and Indians, did not put forward any proposals and attended the session merely as silent observers. They just listened to what the Malay participants had to say without contributing any ideas.

Eventually, the Congress ended without any concrete proposals other than the 20-point Memorandum from the Malay Chamber of Commerce (which Raja Petra Kamarudin presented to Tan Sri Sanusi Junid), which the government accepted as merely an Addendum to the main Resolution from the Congress proper, which was that the Congress left it to the government to resolve the issue of what to do in the post-NEP era.

For all intents and purposes, the Congress failed because the Cabinet Ministers, the non-Malay participants, the members of the Opposition parties, and the Chinese and Indian Chambers of Commerce, did not contribute any ideas and proposals that the government could consider and adopt as Malaysia’s new policy post-NEP.