Malaysia’s affirmative action failures should be a cautionary tale


IT’S NO secret that the African National Congress (ANC) took on the Malaysian state-sponsored ethnic affirmative action policy, and amazing how the outcomes are almost identical.

Sydney Kaye, Cape Town (BD LIVE)

In 1970 the Chinese Malaysians held 27.2% of the economy and, in spite of the billions spent on boosting the native Malaysians, now control 40% (mainly at the expense of foreign plantation and mine owners) while the bulk of the native Malaysians have hardly benefited at all.

This has been explained by the policy, which began benignly but became a crony system that benefited a few well-connected individuals, who in turn “looked after” the political class.

For example, a Mr Tajudin, a son of a farmer who has no expertise in airlines but is the “protégé” of the finance minister, has run Malaysian Airlines into the ground in spite of numerous bail outs. In the field of education, a former education minister explained that although 60% of the places at universities were reserved for native Malaysians only 5% would get those places if they were selected on merit because of the deficiencies in basic education, and that therefore substandard graduates are produced.

The problem has been exacerbated by a culture of entitlement where the beneficiaries have come to expect “free education, a civil service job and subsidised housing and car loans”.

And of course corruption: The prime minister, Najib Razak, has been under pressure because of a sum exceeding $1bn found in his bank account, which he brazenly attributed to a personal donation from a member of the Saudi royal family. The nation was outraged when the attorney-general (a political appointee) cleared him of wrongdoing, while the former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, resigned from the ruling party saying it was a party “dedicated to protecting Najib”.

Naturally the government is blaming foreign newspapers for planning regime change. The prime minister has removed critics from his cabinet and blocked media that reported the allegations, and the authorities have criminally charged whistle blowers.

Race relations have steadily got worse between the majority group and the Chinese and Indian minorities, as has the economic drive, as a direct result of a dictatorship of the majority, which believes that it has the right to do anything, discriminate against minorities and be above the law.

Does this sound faintly familiar?

Read more here