In Malaysia, the Malays control the economy, The Diplomat writer claims


(Malay Mail Online) – Contrary to popular perception, it is the Malays and not the Chinese who dominate the economy here as they control major banks, government-linked companies (GLCs) and top posts in the private sector, a writer for The Diplomat said.

Bochen Han from the international current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region also highlighted income inequality among the Chinese, pointing out that there is little government support for impoverished non-Malays while the Malays are protected by pro-Bumiputera measures stemming from the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“Since the enactment of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the 1970s — a set of affirmative action policies for ethnic Malays aimed to reduce inequality between them and their ethnic-Chinese counterparts — the Malays have monumentally improved their situation,” Han wrote yesterday in an article titled “Malaysia’s Chinese diaspora: The other side of the story”.

“They control most of the major banks, including the central bank, the government linked companies (GLCs), as well as constitute the majority of the top professional and highest-paying occupations in the private sector,” Han added.

Han, however, did not provide statistics to back up her claim that the Malays hold most of the top posts in the private sector.

The Diplomat editorial assistant also said there is a “large number of Chinese” who are either below the urban poverty line or slightly above it, with wealth only concentrated among a few.

“Furthermore, while many of the NEP measures are still in force protecting the ethnic-Malays, there is relatively little government support for non-Malays in poverty. Correspondingly, there is a dire lack of academic study and census focus on the Chinese poor,” she said.

Han wrote that the perception of Chinese dominance in Malaysian society and of the Chinese poor has been obscured by census figures showing that the Chinese have it better.

“Census data from 2014 show that the average monthly gross income for the Chinese is much higher than that of any other ethnic group in the country.

“Adding to this narrative are lists like the Forbes’ 50 Richest, which consistently reveal that the majority of Malaysia’s richest are of Chinese descent (in 2015, eight of the top 10 Malaysian nationals on the Forbes’ list were Chinese),” she said.

According to the Economic Planning Unit, the mean monthly gross household income for the Chinese last year was RM7,666, compared to RM6,246 for the Indians and RM5,548 for the Bumiputera.

Han also noted that the Chinese have limited political power in the country.

“First of all, despite the lack of indication in the Malaysian Constitution, there’s no debate over the fact that the prime minister must be of Malay origin, meaning that Chinese political power will always hit a brick wall.

Furthermore, there is little support from the Chinese community for the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the voice for the ethnic-Chinese population in government. Political observers agree that, that while they are vocal in the opposition, the Chinese have a largely insignificant voice in Malaysian Parliament,” she said.

Tensions between the Malays and Chinese recently intensified after a government-sanctioned street demonstration last September that saw thousands of Malays rallying for their “dignity”, some of whom held anti-Chinese banners.