Now, Umno rep wants 67.9pc Bumiputera quota

(MM) – An Umno delegate today asked for the 30 per cent quota for Bumiputera equity in business to be more than doubled to reflect the country’s population breakdown and deal with what he described as “disturbing emerging issues” in the economy.

Malacca delegate Datuk Akhbar Ali told the Umno general assembly that it is only fair to revise the quota upwards, since the Bumiputera community account for 67.9 per cent of the country’s population of 28 million.

“We need to translate that into a new benchmark for our future planning and targets. If we take that 67.9 per cent as the new benchmark, imagine where we will be,” he said during the economy debate.

The current 30 per cent quota was implemented under the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970 to narrow the gap in business equity ownership between the Malay and Chinese communities.

The NEP was created as a response to the deadly racial riots that rocked the nation’s capital on May 13, 1969, and was supposed to run for 20 years ending in 1990.

The government has, however, continued to retain elements of the NEP, amidst growing discontent among non-Bumiputera communities over what they described as a free ride for well-connected Malays into big business.

Akhbar today argued that despite all the policies put in place by the government to empower the Bumiputera community economically, they still lagged behind the non-Bumiputera.

Taking the example of land ownership, he said the Bumiputera community collectively own just 42.5 per cent of the total land area available in the country.

Citing the Wasiat Raja-Raja Melayu or Will of the Malay Rulers — which was issued at the same time Malaya declared independence — Akhbar said 50 per cent of the land sans mountains and lakes was to be Malay reserve land, while the remaining half would be up for grabs by all communities.

“Based on this, the Bumiputera should own over 50 per cent of the land, but the figures show that Bumiputera land ownership is not even at 50 per cent,” he said, while asking party President and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to provide a detailed racial breakdown of land ownership in every state.

Akhbar also highlighted the widening gap in household income between Bumiputera and Chinese households, claiming that the average Chinese family earns RM1.45 for every RM1 brought home by a Malay household.

He said the Umno-led federal government must channel as much help as possible for Bumiputera wage earners, who make up the bulk of the Bumiputera economic pie.

The Malacca Umno liaison committee secretary said wage earners comprise 69 per cent of the entire Bumiputera community, with nearly three quarters of that figure falling in the country’s bottom 40 per cent of the economic strata.

He acknowledged that the onus falls on the Bumiputera community to take advantage of all the opportunities provided by the government to uplift themselves, but stressed that the policymakers must also work doubly hard to give the Bumiputera economic empowerment.

“We must bear in mind that growth without equity will only widen the (economic) gap, while equity without growth will only breed poverty,” he said.