Mahathir: Need-based policy to continue, Bumiputera still “not as competitive”

(Focus Malaysia) – PRIVILEGES accorded to Bumiputera were indeed based on a “need” and should continue to be as such simply due to the fact that the Bumiputera “were not as competitive as their Chinese counterparts”, said former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this in an exclusive interview with Business Today whereby the question whether the current race-based New Economic Policy (NEP) should be replaced with a need-based one was raised.

“The Chinese have about 600 years of culture and they can survive anywhere. Wherever they go, they create Chinatowns but the Malays cannot survive as their culture is not competitive,” he was reported saying.

Previously, political analysts had pointed out that no political elite would want the NEP to end and would deem those who disagree with the NEP as an enemy of the state.

According to the article, while NEP was designed on powerful themes of wanting to create social concord and cohesiveness by “removing the underlying disparity of the races, the continual obsession with a race was only an excuse for the elites to enrich themselves”.

The former prime minister further alluded to the fact that a need-based policy must be seen from the perspective of the whole community and not just that of an individual perspective.

Using a football team as an example, Mahathir told the business magazine that one “cannot have a football team with those who are 12 years of age competing with those who are 18 years”.

The handicap, he added, would be too distant as the competition between the Malays and the Chinese were not on a level playing field.

However, Mahathir went on to point out that while Malays were the majority in the country, they provided stability in the government through UMNO and the Chinese “prospered with Malay rule”.

“The Chinese cannot rule the country because they did not have the numbers but with Malays providing good governance, the non-Malays too prospered,” he told Business Today, adding that a Malay-majority Government does not mean that non-Malays would be excluded.

Rather, it would be with the consideration of the Chinese and Indians as “we care for others”.

Still, various quarters had previously mooted the idea of moving away from race-based policies and parties.

They added that it was time to have a multi-racial party that would represent the collective interest of all the communities as opposed to looking at communal problems purely from their respective ethnic lenses.

However, Business Today reported that Mahathir had cautioned those with such idealistic aspirations that it was “not grounded in reality” and that what was important was that “political parties must reflect the aspirations on the ground”.

The people on the ground, it seemed, are not ready to accept that change.

According to Mahathir, this is evident when Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) – a multi-racial party – could not win the 14th general election to form a new government.

It was only when PKR worked with Malay-based party Bersatu that it was able to win the elections, he claimed.

On his outlook for the future of the country, Mahathir had expressed his exasperation at the level of corruption in the country.

People “were not working for the country…and there were many [people] who wanted to become Prime Minister and everything appeared to be rudderless”, he claimed.

Mahathir further told the magazine that the country will be abler to reset itself again in the 15th general election (GE15) but the people “need to support those who are not corrupted”.