Has Umno really failed the Malays?

This 20%, 30%, 60%, etc., NEP target is nonsense. There actually should be no fixed target. It should be a moving target that changes when the world changes. We cannot have a statistic target when the world is dynamic. That was the mistake of our planners 50 years ago back in 1970.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Someone named ‘Avienne Alice’ posted the following message in Malaysia Today:

The majority of Malays who are not in Umno did not benefit from the NEP. It is only Umno cronies and family members who benefitted greatly. This is already proven since its implementation. Just scrap it and replace with better policy. Want the solution: hire people like Ebit Liew and Caprice.

Avienne Alice

I visited Avienne Alice’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/avienne.alice.3and it looks like a fake page or a page of one of the DAP Red Bean Army (RBA) cybertroopers. Nevertheless, this type of message (the Malays never benefited from the NEP or New Economic Policy) has been posted so many times over the years that I thought I should address it once and for all.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on the other hand, said as follows:

READ MORE HERE: https://www.sinarharian.com.my/article/124302/BERITA/Nasional/Jika-saya-tak-bersuara-masa-depan-orang-Melayu-gelap-Tun-M

The impression that Mahathir is creating is he is the saviour of the Malay race and single-handedly he is saving the Malays from extinction like what is happening to the Australian Aborigines or Native Americans.

Let’s be very clear about one thing. The New Economic Policy or NEP has not failed. And anyone who says it has is either ignorant or lying. But then most people look at the NEP merely from the point of view of businesses and shares in listed companies or on the stock market, or measured against Malaysia’s market capitalisation.

No, the NEP is more than just shares in companies or businesses that Malays own.

The only thing is, the NEP was good for its time, 50 years ago. Since 1970, times have changed, so we need something new and something different to meet the needs and challenges of this modern world.

The NEP in its original form is no longer suitable for today’s global and digital world. Banking, trading, education, communications, news, entertainment, shopping, and much more, are all internet based and those who are not on the internet die off. And the NEP cannot help those Malays who still insist on pasar malam businesses. Even the sex trade has gone online.

In 1950, the infant mortality rate in Malaysia was 30 per 1,000 births. Today, it is only 5 per 1,000 births. In 1950, life expectancy was 56 years (you died not long after you retired). Today, it is 76 years (you finish all your EPF money and go broke long before you die).

Malays used to have many children because the infant mortality rate was high. Hence if you have just one or two kids, like the Chinese, you might end up with no kids by the time you retire. And most people need these kids to look after them when they get old, weak and/or sick. Today, Malays can safely have two kids because the chances of them dying early like back in 1950 is very slim.

The NEP is not just about wealth creation or about churning out millionaires and billionaires. Of course, some who walk in the corridors of power have exploited and abused the NEP to get rich. But this happened not because of the NEP. This happened because they had political power and/or connections.

All this would have still happened even if there was no NEP. It is not the NEP that is at fault. It is human greed. As long as money is their God, corruption would exist. Even during the time of Yap Ah Loy corruption existed. The only thing is, during the time of Yap Ah Loy, the Chinese bribed the British. Today the Chinese bribe the Malays. And in China, the Chinese bribe the Chinese.

The NEP, however, is not just about making one race rich. It is also about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor (for all races). It is also about improving the quality of life (as seen in the longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate). It is also about educating the Malays.

And this is the most important aspect of the NEP: educating the Malays.

About 100 years ago only the sons of the elite and royalty would expect to receive a higher education

About 100 years ago, education was reserved for mainly the Malay elite. ‘Normal’ Malays would expect an education only up to standard six (like one-time Deputy Prime Minister Tun Ghafar Baba). Those who went to London and came back to Malaysia as a barrister, like my father, were a mere handful. Malay doctors, engineers, architects, lawyers, etc., were very rare.

Today, five million Malays have received a higher-tertiary education. Throw a stone into the air and chances are it would hit a Malay professional. Some of the leading heart surgeons who can replace your damaged heart with a mechanical-artificial heart are Malays.

In the past, only a few Malays owned bicycles. Today, almost every house has a car and many households own more than one car — and the bicycles they own are for recreational activities and cost more than RM10,000 or RM20,000.

Many use the 30% of the economic pie target as the yardstick to measure the failure of the NEP because currently it is only 20% and not 30%.

Okay, in the first place, why 30%? If the Malays are 60% of the population, should it not be 60% instead of 30%? Who decided it should be 30%? In fact, it could even be 20% — which means that the NEP target has been successfully met.

This 20%, 30%, 60%, etc., NEP target is nonsense. There actually should be no fixed target. It should be a moving target that changes when the world changes. We cannot have a statistic target when the world is dynamic. That is the mistake of our planners 50 years ago back in 1970.

More importantly, when they set the target at 30%, it was supposed to be 30% of a certain size economic pie. Over the last 50 years, the pie has increased in size. If the target is 30% of the original size pie, then probably it is now 500%, not 20%.

But then Malaysia’s economic pie is moving in size as well. So, we are trying to hit a moving target. Hence our ‘gun’ must also move in tandem with the target.

For example, let’s say 50 years ago Malaysia’s market capitalisation was only RM500 billion. Today, Malaysia’s market capitalisation has grown to RM2 trillion.

In 1970, the NEP planners set the target at 30% of RM500 billion. Today, it is 20% of RM2 trillion. Hence, in real terms the Malay share of the economic pie has actually increased beyond what was targeted, although in percentage terms it appears like it has decreased.

Anyway, the Malays started at just 1% at the time of Merdeka. Today, it is 3% in terms of personal wealth and 20% if including trust agencies. It is still short of 30%, no doubt, but we cannot say the Malays have gone backwards. They have just moved forwards slower than planned.

But when the planners sat down in 1970 to plan, they did not know that the world would face the 1985 recession, 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, 2008 recession and 2020 Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Man proposes, God disposes, as the saying goes. So, say “insyaAllah” every time you propose something lest divine intervention interferes with your plans. Hence can we blame Umno or the government for the “failure” of the NEP when in the end what happens is an “Act of God” (and insurance policies do not cover Acts of God)?